Monday, February 27, 2012

Racing deadlines

Absolute silence around here. Sorry. It seems like I've been racing deadlines since... Hm. Can't remember when the clockwork suddenly wound up so tightly. August? September?

Aketur II

First to finish the translation, then edits, then more of same. I rush through routines and sandwiches with pbj and edits, and the weeks just slip by. But this one Sunday in January we managed to sneak in a trip to the park to go sledding. Here's the robotfighter and his beloved Tante Line.

And me? Why didn't I go sledding?

One small step
Well, behind the little polar expedition hero, that's me at the bottom of the slope, drinking coffee with my mother. I'm the red bell-shaped one.

Tick, tock. The race is on!

In other news, this made me cry today:

The Little Hands of Asphalt - Fitzcaraldo from APPARATET on Vimeo.

It's one of the bands my brother plays in. So good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The deal with the deal

I’m sorry about the conspicuous silence. For the longest time I’ve been dying to tell you, and then, when I could, I just clamped up.

I could blame it on deadlines and kid with a nasty cold and press (Yikes! So strange being on the other end!) and Christmas preparations and all sorts of things, big and small. But honestly, I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I took the weekend off(ish), did some Christmas shopping, did some mental de-cluttering, watched Cars and wiped noses with Magnus, oh, some three hundred times. And still I feel a little off-kilter. In fact, I feel a little like Fuller in Home Alone, squished up behind that chair. Only happy.

Because… dear me. I can’t even claim that this is a dream come true. I may have said with some confidence that I was going to be a fantasy writer when I grew up, I may have quit my job, even, to get there, but I never imagined something like this.

I know it’s been inching nearer for quite a while, first with the suggestion that I should try to write a summary in English and translate a few chapters, just to see how it went. The suggestion came from my childhood friend Thomas, who’s quite new in the publishing business, but who turns out to have a fine nose for such things. He does things like pick up the Norwegian rights for Game of Thrones and American Gods before anyone else has realized they're going to be TV-series and connected the dots. All Thomas knew about Twistrose was what I’d told him, rather clumsily and very briefly, at a dinner party. But he knew at once (or so he claims). I really didn’t.

Then I signed with Jane Putch, the most amazing agent in the universe, again through the suggestion of good friends. I knew she accomplishes spectacular things. But when the deal with Dial happened, I was floored.

And yet, with the Publisher’s Weekly note, everything sort of hit me like a frying pan. A nice frying pan, mind you, one that has been frying bacon and brussels sprouts. (What? You don’t like brussels sprouts? Not even with hot bacon, butter and brandy? Huh.)But still quite hard. Like I said: I’m Fuller (but without the soda concerns, promise).

So now I have to shake off the dizzyness and get back to my routine, quickly. Twistrose may already be out this time next year, which means that I should promptly develop serious multitasking abilities, or give up sleeping or, you know, quit procrastinating. Ha.

What, now? Okay. Now.


Photos by Line Almhjell.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The softness of November

Christmas star
Conversation between tiny boy and his mother in a gift shop. They are looking at Christmas decorations piled up in baskets and boxes, and the boy removes his mitten, closes his hand around a shiny bauble and shudders: "Soft!"
The mother arches her eyebrows. "That's not soft, is it, sweetie?"
"Soft inside, Mommy," the boy replies. "I'm soft inside the heart."

Me too, little boy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Delicious, delicious secret

Lite fnis
Oh. I have the most delicious secret. And no, it's not that I need another haircut (because yikes).

Can't share yet.

But I'd say it's rather marvelous stuff, the kind of stuff that would make my knees watery if I could travel back in time and whisper it into my 20-year-old ear.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My secret reader

Stockholm stadsbibliotek
From time to time I’m asked why I write.

It’s not because I want to create something that will last, or to see my name on the well-cracked spine of a book in a library, though these, too, are excellent reasons. It’s not because I have no choice. I can while away hours and days, lose myself in the everyday little: sparrow gazing, daycare runs, transactions and translations. It’s certainly not because I find it easy, or because I can’t think of anything else to do with my life. Writing costs, and having tried other paths, I’d say it’s pretty dear.

No. It’s because of her. You see, in the corner of my study, there is a big armchair. In the armchair sits a girl of eleven.

Her hair is cropped too short, and little spindly tufts are sticking out in weird places, mostly because it won't occur to her to wet her hair in the morning for several years still. But she doesn't pay the random curls any attention, she is too absorbed in her book. The pages keep turning, like the ticking of a very slow clock, and her eyes are shining, and it'll only be three more days until she puts the book down and says, "That was wonderful. What's next?"

If it were the eighties, in a small place too insignificant to be called a town, in the middle of Norway, the answer would be, “Nothing. After the Grey Havens, there’s nothing.” But it’s not, and I’m here typing like crazy so I can answer, "This is next. The Twistrose Key. You will love it."

Of course, the world has changed and expanded around her since then. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Plain Kate, and there are so many places to visit now that she may never have to sit there, stunned and lost, fearing that the time of adventure is already over.

And yet it is always her I write for, not for myself, and never for the people looking over my shoulder.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Random curls

For the longest time, I just ran out of words. But after a while the path divides into two; those who lost someone that day go down the bleak, tangly one. Everyone else goes down the other, where caramel lattes and morning kisses and sparrows on your café table still make you grin.

And random curls. Random curls especially.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oslo 22/7

Yesterday, in our apartment on Grünerløkka, I felt the blast. I walked to the window, thinking it was the mother of all thunderclaps. No rain. And then the sirens.

My Pan's office is 30 meters away from the blast. His window is gone, the facade is warped and broken. The whole building is burnt out. If it were a regular Friday, he would have been there, because he never goes home early. But it wasn't a regular Friday. It was in the middle of the general vacation, and my Pan was hiking in the mountains. When he came home last night, I felt ugly alternate realities peel away right there. He's safe. Some of his colleagues were not so lucky.

My brother in law works in an independent record store only two blocks away from the blast. He was bending down to pick up something, right underneath the big windows, when the bomb went off. For some reason the windows didn't shatter, they just rattled around in their frames, even though windows broke everywhere along that street. He didn't get cut by glass. His co-worker was not so lucky.

My friend was on his way home yesterday afternoon. He contemplated going into a supermarket to pick up a couple of things, but decided that it could wait. How many minutes did that save him? Four? Five? Six? He crossed Einar Gerhardsens plass. Five minutes later it blew up. That woman with the ponytail on Dagsavisen's cover today was not so lucky.

I didn't know anyone on that island. I can't bear to think about that island. If I close my laptop and turn off the tv, I can attempt to shut it out, now that there are no more helicopters rushing to the hospital . So many - so many - are not so lucky.

Today I'm sitting here, shivering in all my luck, and all those parents, brothers, sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, family, and friends rim every thought. I feel that I should do something. That I should help in some way. But my bloodtype is not the desired one. So instead I take my child to the park, and I'm not afraid. We have ice cream. I meet the eyes of strangers, to see if they, too, are tearing up.

I won't go into politics and tolerance and the press coverage here, though there is much to be said. Øystein Runde's post (in English) is a start.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Drive car fast

Mags is putting together his first little sentences.

Mommy, what sayed you?/Mamma, hva sidde du?
Mommy, what you do?/Mamma, hva gjøre du?
Don't want to./Vil ikke.
That sure was good./Var godt, ja.
Drive car./Kjøre bil.
Drive car fast./Kjøre bil fort.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My summer vows

History of life

Ack, I'm so busy! I hardly have time to spell my name right. I'm language editing the second part of the Norwegian translation of A Game of Thrones, and the deadline is July 1st, and due to some chicken-poxy hiccups, I'm behind schedule.

So these days, I just stay at my desk, all crazy-haired and wild-eyed, tearing through the pages like an insufferable, know-it-all whirlwind. But every few hours, I glance up and see the trees outside and remember that my summer holiday is only eight days away. Or is it seven? Gah! Must dash. Must whirl. But in the meantime, here are my summer promises. I will:


Eat sweet morello cherries.


Stay in the dappled shade.

Lemony Snicket III

Spend time at the cabin.


Read by the ocean.

Hilser på

Visit friends.


Stay healthy.


Lie in the grass.


Stay up too late.

Oh, and the photos are of course by Lin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seeds that bloom in the rain

There's such a terrific rain in Grünerløkka today. The sort that makes strangers smile at each other as they huddle under newspapers and parapets, waiting for the tumbling grey to relent so they can brave the puddles and go to work. On days like these, I wish I could spirit my beloved Dromedar across the mountains and years.

Nedre Bakklandet - HDR - BW
I would open the narrow, white door of the café, and the bell would ring, and my favourite table with a view of the cathedral would be free. Because who ventures out in such weather? Only me, and the silent blonde girl with her tattered paperbacks, and the barista, who grins and starts my cardamom latte without even asking.

Smiling back, I shrug out of my rain gear: my grandmother's thick, white oilskin jacket, my "southwester" hat, already steaming in the warmth of the tiny room. And there's cookie jazz playing, and the blueberry muffins are fresh from the oven, and heavy drops are pelting the cobblestones outside.

As I sit there, trying to glimpse the green of the cathedral spire through the mists, an idea blooms in my head. What if a story began, right there, across the street, in the red, crooked house I've always pictured in that empty lot. What if it starts with a girl, staring out into the rain, unaware that she is already dreadfully late. I smile a little to myself. And then my latte is ready.

Photos: Lin and johnsarelli

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fairy tales do come true

Remember the insane publisher party I told you about when my friend and agency sister Laini went to London? Well, here's what happened when she went to Book Expo America, the biggest book fair on the continent. That continent. You know. Just read it.
Magnus says: WOW. Magnus is right.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Looks like very old magic

Veien hjem
My friend Heidi often says that all of Norway looks like Narnia. I understand, but I don't agree. As a child, I never fell in love with Narnia as much as I did with The Lord of the Rings. There was always a sense that I was being tricked, that Lewis didn't truly believe in his world the way Tolkien did. Narnia just didn't feel real enough. It didn't feel true.
En hestehale
Of course, Norway does not look like Middle-Earth, either. It doesn't whisper of elves and dwarves and a peaceful time under the stars. But Norway has its very own flavor of magic. A green, old, wild sort of magic that gathers under mossy pines between towering mountains.
The road
Or a gray, cold sort of magic that washes over rocks and shores along the coast, swirled up by seabirds.
Bad omen
Or a knowing, watchful magic that lingers under bridges and barns and old stone walls.
Låve komplett med fuglekasser og traktor
I secretly hope that some day, someone will say: Oh, all of Norway looks like Sylver. To which I would reply: On the contrary. All of Sylver looks like Norway.
All photos, as usual, by Lin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A trip to the cabin


One of the many good things about family vacations is that Lin and her camera are there to capture them. This Easter, we went to our new cabin on Tustna, an island in the Atlantic Ocean not far from Kristiansund. It's so pretty there. Just look:

Sett fra fjell

Here's the view from the mountain that rises behind the cabin, Knubben. It's quite a climb, but I think it only took Lin and Eiv about two and a half hours to get up there. I didn't go, preferring to laze about on the sundeck...

Etter frokost

Which feels a lot like this, only this is a photo from last summer. I read 'Breaking Dawn'.

Ved foten av fjellet

The weather was mostly unusually fair, but we had one day of misty rain, where mountains and ocean were lost in layers of veil. We just stayed inside the cabin and ate chocolate and played yatzee.

Ut av nattskogen

This is the tiny copse that we have to pass through to get to the cabin. It's so dense, I've named it the Night Forest.

Varm grå

And here's the little bay just along the shoreline, where there are farms and houses and a small, sheltered harbour. While we were there, the landspace warmed from weary grey to fresh green.

Årets krokus

A gaggle of giggling crocus. They can be rather silly, you know.


One day, our friends Cam and JohnE picked us up for a trip on the glassy ocean in their very nice boat. Magnus came, too, but I do believe he prefers puddles to all that water.

Gårsdagens glitter

Because there truly is a lot of water, and air and light. So, does anyone want to come? It's even nicer in the summer.

Manglende klovdyr

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ketchup days and butter days

nearly empty sauce bottles
Usually in the morning, my Pan makes himself a cheese sandwich before running off to work. Usually, it's Norvegia cheese and butter and nice bread. But sometimes, if it's been a particularly bumpy night, if Magnus has been up or sick or fussy, if there's a deadline at work, if he's late already, if the stack of bills is tall, he substitutes the butter for ketchup. Cheese, bread and ketchup.

So if I come into the kitchen and the red bottle sits on the counter, I know. Uh oh. It's a ketchup day.

Lately, there's been a lot of those, not only for Pan, but for Magnus and me, too. Viruses galore. Asthma. Hospitals. Eye problems. Messy house, messy work, messy nights and ketchup days.

All right, spring. Bring on the butter.


Photos: Minimalist101, Line

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Second generation wolf

A post on tollipop's blog about cousins got me thinking.
When I was a kid, we always went to grandmother's farm for summer and Christmas vacations. I adored my sweet, patient, kind grandmother, not to mention her tins of chocolate sheet cake and cookies that always waited under the bench in the hallway. But even more, I loved hanging out with my cousins.
Looking back, I'm amazed our parents seemed so relaxed as we roamed around our grandmother's farm like a pack of unruly wolves, getting into trouble every other minute, making so much noise I think we scared off every owl and fox between the mountains. Før morellsesongen
But man, we were happy. Those sled rides, those games in the attic and orchard and fields and woods! We kissed cats, we chased cows, we splashed in the icy stream. SommerungenslørThat's the kind of parent I would like to be. One that facilitates roaming and noise and adventure. I want wolf cubs.
Ulv (joda)
Magnus has had a rough winter, but at least there's this: When I ask him if can howl like a wolf, he always answers: "Aooooooooooo!" It's a start.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The shivers

She dreams of water
I just finished 'Menneskehavn' by John Ajvide Lindquist. For those of you who don't know the name, he's the author of 'Let The Right One In', which I hope you have seen, the Swedish version, please. 'Menneskehavn' hasn't been translated into English yet, so I don't know what the title will be, but literally it means 'Human Harbor'.

Lindquist mixes realistic settings in modern day Sweden with horror, delving into modern myths like vampires and zombies, but always with a fresh, somber and deeply chilling angle. He's good. He's really good.

This time it was ghosts. Ghosts and creatures of the dark sea. Combined. Man.

I'm not going to say that I don't scare easily, because I do. I scary so easily, I can't watch horror movies. There and then I laugh (a little shrilly perhaps), but I always dream about them afterwards. Nightmares when I was five, nightmares now. Silly imagination.

(Actually, wonderful imagination. Thank you, Great Imagination Dispenser, for those extra couple of squirts. I do love them.)

'Menneskehavn' is the scariest thing I've read in a long time. It was a gift from a friend, and I hadn't read the back before I started it. (I like to do that sometimes. It's like running in the dark.) So when the main character slowly realizes that the presence he senses in his old summer house on the Swedish coast is in fact his dead six-year-old, I cringed with him. When he finds out that the ghost is connected with the dark waters right outside his walls, my belly stung. Dead children and the ocean are definitely on my top five most frightening list, along with women in white nightgowns with hidden faces, old clocks, and porcelain dolls.

At one point, I stayed awake most of the night because I was too afraid to go to sleep. And Magnus still wakes up 10 times every night and my Pan and I have to split the night into shifts just to get by, so one night of lost sleep is A LOT.

Then I spotted Magnus's red winter suit hanging on the bedroom chair, and well...

I think you should read it if you can.

Now for shivers of a more pleasant sort: You have to read what happened to my friend Laini when she went to London to meet the British publishers of her next book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Good heavens. The costumes alone!

(Photo by my fantastically talented sister Line, as always, and this time the photo is of her as well).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In which I get my four-year-old heart broken

I have some grave news about pacifiers. They're not for 37-year-olds.

I remember the day I stopped using one very well. It was my fourth birthday, and my father was tucking me in, and we agreed that I was a big girl now, too big for pacifiers. He turned off the light and I curled up to sleep, feeling both proud and completely lost.

My dad must have been so relieved, he'd been trying to get me to quit for quite some time. Once he took me up on deck of the boat back to Trondheim from the windswept little peninsula where he worked as a teacher. He wanted me to throw the pacifier in the water, so I would know that it was really, truly gone. Eager to please my dad, I plucked it out of my mouth and let it go over the rail. I watched with mounting horror as my pacifier, my love, was swallowed by the churning wake, so thoroughly that it didn't even re-surface before the wake was lost in darkness. Of course I wailed all the way to Trondheim, a good ninety minutes, and our first stop when we reached the city was a pharmacist's.

And now, having watched the stars in Magnus's eyes whenever his darling 'mem' is brought out, I was convinced that I remembered correctly: Nothing in the whole world could be more comforting and soothing.

So I tried it. It was dry, rubbery, awkward and not a little bit exhausting.

Which is not to say that the hole in my four-year-old heart is mended. Not at all. On the contrary, even. I guess some memories are best left alone.

UPDATE: Magnus would like to point out that mothers are clueless.