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 the process of writing a novel, however, authors learn to follow their own vision, despite what the critics might say. Because every editor and reader will want it a bit more like this, or a bit more like that. By the time you launch your book, it should reflect your best effort to knit together the writerly knowledge and advice you’ve absorbed with the story you want to tell and the wisdom you bring to bear. Hopefully that is what you’ve accomplished.
But that’s a high standard, and when you launch you may not be sure you’ve met the mark. Because you won’t know until you have readers. To live, a book needs readers. When you launch your novel, you’re asking people to listen to your story. You’re inviting them into the world you have conjured, that’s been living in your head and heart for years. And once they give you their attention, it better be a damn good tale.
So here is the tale I wanted to tell, the story of a strong, complicated woman who struggles against the patriarchy of her day to find her own true self. She travels from the gutters of 19th century Norway, to the challenging emptiness of the Minnesota prairie, searching for family, love and purpose. Along the way, a second story of another Norwegian woman from another era is braided together with the first, a story that reflects and expands the original. My two heroines – Nora and Solvi – have lived in my imagination for years. May they now live in yours.
Wendy Swallow, Aug. 28, 2019
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- Five Surprising Things I Learned about Norway - May 5, 2021
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- Nora and Solvi, the Movie - November 16, 2020
- Essay Questions - October 1, 2020
- The Weight of Creative Work - September 1, 2020
- Nora and the Shadow of Prostitution - July 11, 2020
- A Silver Medal for Searching for Nora - June 2, 2020
- Writing Historical Fiction: Challenges and Surprises - May 4, 2020