Posts with the category ‘Author’s Desk’


Why There Are No Dogs in Searching for Nora

white dog to illustrate blog

That’s my dearly departed dog, Rex: a sweet, loyal collie mix who always knew when to cheer me up. Nearly everyone loves dogs, and many people enjoy reading about them and their deep-felt relationships with their owners. Given that, why didn’t I put a dog in my novel Searching for Nora?  It would have been a surefire way of warming up the narrative. A dog could have humanized the humans, led to interesting plot opportunities, and provided Nora with a friend when she desperately needed one. Ah, and therein lies the rub. I had a photography teacher once who banned… 


Harvest Time on the Prairie

Pioneer Life, Little House on the Prairie, Norwwegian Americans, Searching for Nora, Thanksgiving, harvest, prairie

It’s not clear how many of the nineteenth-century settlers on the American prairie celebrated the official Thanksgiving holiday, which was not established until 1863. Many families must have had harvest feasts when they were finished gathering in what the land had produced, and as most settlers were religious in their orientation, they probably gave thanks to God. But the truth is, prairie harvests were often not that bountiful. Most settlers planted a cash crop – usually wheat – and many planted some corn and alfalfa to feed their livestock, as well as garden vegetables that would keep through the winter,… 


In the Land of Lutefisk

Norwegian Americans, coffee mugs, Norwegian culture,

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

Henrik Ibsen, Nora's Creator

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?

potential titles for my book Searching for Nora

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…. 


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