Posts with the category ‘Author’s Desk’

The Magic of Gift-Giving

Scandinavian, Christmas, books, chocolate, norwegian-Americans, Dolls House, Nora Helmer

In my novel Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, my heroine Nora Helmer ends up spending a winter on the harsh Minnesota prairie helping care for a family of Norwegian immigrants. They settle on a very poor farm, and struggle to gather hay and make improvements before the snow comes. By Christmas, the family is facing its first holiday without their mother, who died just as they started their immigration journey in the spring. There are few stores nearby and even fewer people. It’s a long way from Nora’s former cozy apartment in Kristiania with a Christmas tree lit… 

Essay Questions

Henrik Ibsen, Doll's House, Norwegian Americans

I had the privilege recently of talking with a group of British high school students who were studying Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. Their teacher, a wonderfully literate young man, invited me to speak because he thought my book Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House could help his students better understand the historical and literary context of Ibsen’s play, something they would need to write about during their upcoming A-level exams. As an English-teacher-wannabe, I loved this idea. The teacher sent me a list of essay questions and suggested I pick several to discuss. I wasn’t sure I… 

The Weight of Creative Work

Henrik Ibsen, Searching for Nora, Norwegian History, Norwegian Immigration

Whenever I give a book talk about my novel Searching for Nora: After the Doll’s House, eventually every group gets to the important question: Are you working on your next book? If so, when will it be out? Some people ask if I’m writing a sequel to Searching for Nora, and – if so – can I share some tantalizing hints about what happens to Solvi and Rikka and Ivar and Bobby? Surely they find each other in America, they say, looking at me hopefully, as if this suggestion might prime my creative pumps. Others ask if I’m working on… 

A Silver Medal for Searching for Nora

searching for nora, IPPY award, doll's house, Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian Americans

The hardest thing about writing a book is marketing it, particularly in this day and age. Compared to the quiet and intense focus of the writing process, marketing takes chutzpah, salesmanship and an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about cold-calling prospective groups, arranging appearances, and handing out chocolates (and smiles) at Barnes and Noble in hopes that a few people might stop for a look. Not easy in the best of circumstances. But marketing a book during a pandemic? Please. Some people say the shut-down has given them more time to read, yet others report feeling too distracted to relax with a… 

Writing Historical Fiction: Challenges and Surprises

Norwegian history, Oslo, Norwegian Americans, Ibsen, Dolls House

Last Sunday I was supposed to be giving a talk at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book Festival. As a featured author, I planned to talk about the challenges and surprises of writing historical fiction. Then came the coronavirus, and it was all cancelled. But if I can’t stand on a stage, I can still share my ideas about researching and crafting a story set in a different time. For me, the greatest joy of writing historical fiction is that it lets you avoid writing, for days and weeks at a time. Any excuse to research another question –…