Posts with the category ‘Author’s Desk’


In the Land of Lutefisk

While researching my novel Searching for Nora, I was often asked “are you Norwegian?” The book is set in Norway and Minnesota, and so I traveled to both places to interview scholars, historians and Norwegian American descendants. The Norwegians, in particular, were curious about my heritage and sometimes spoke Norwegian to test my understanding. But I could only offer a faint smile, because I wasn’t Norwegian American any more than I was Italian American. I didn’t grow up attending lutefisk dinners in a knitted sweater and singing Norwegian table graces. Along the way, however, I came to wish I had…. 


CHANNELING IBSEN

The very first word of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the play my book is built upon, is “hide.” Nora Helmer, the heroine, is talking about hiding the Christmas tree from the children. But that one word opens a door to how she prevaricates, shades the truth and masquerades as a silly, incompetent wife. Indeed, as the play unspools, it’s clear that all the main characters are hiding things from each other. This gap between appearance and what is actually true grows with each act, and finally splits the Helmer’s marriage apart. The entire disaster starts with that single command,… 


What’s In a Book Title?

While promoting my novel Searching for Nora last week, I got an interesting question: how did I come up with the title? Ah, the title. It seems like that should be the easiest part of the book to write. In the movie version of a writer’s life, you see the author slip a piece of paper into a typewriter, roll it into place and, click clack, type in the title. Then they start writing. Or, if they are going to be ambushed by writer’s block, they stop after the title. The title should be obvious. The title should be easy…. 


Launching my Book

My new book, Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, officially launches today, which is exciting but also a bit harrowing. It’s like sending your five-year-old off on the school bus for the first day of kindergarten. Will your kid do well in the big world? Will she make friends and prove helpful to others? Will she come home crying or jump off the bus with a smile? Novels, after all, are like people: complex and idiosyncratic, with hidden beauties and often obvious flaws. Not everyone likes every person, and not every person likes every novel. At some point in… 


Why Write About Nora Helmer?

Photo of the door of an historic apartment in Oslo, like the one Nora Helmer slammed at the end of Ibsen play A Doll's House.

I wrote Searching for Nora because I couldn’t stop wondering what Nora Helmer – heroine of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House – might have done after slamming the door on her family and bourgeois life. Would she set up house-keeping in a garret and send for her children? Flee to Denmark to become a bohemian and pose for painters? Or walk to the harbor and buy a ticket to America?


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