27 Nov 2010

Inspired by bathroom line ...

I was standing in line outside a Ladies Room in a Department store today. It's boring. Because of the Christmas rush, there's loads of people, and long lines.
So what to do?
When I'm bored, I get flashes of inspiration. While in a line my mind wanders - I mean, what else are you going to do when you wait? I can't write anything, I left my phone in the coffee shop, I forgot my book, and I never talk to strangers.
But I had a wonderful idea, funny and light. So probably perfect for a short story. Sometimes it's easy to see what kind of story lives in the idea. A complex idea leads to complex story, a novel or even a series. A light and fluffy story - sorry about that. This story involves cats - so perhaps something for a magazine.
I haven't written anything on the story yet. I'm just playing with it in my mind. If it goes away, it wasn't any good, if it stays, I can make something out of it. But I love this period. Playing with the idea, looking at it, trying different angles, shuffeling point of views and scenes to see what works best - it's great fun.
Perhaps by tomorrow I'll try it on the page, see where it goes. I'm in love with it, so I think it's going to fly!

4 Nov 2010

New books ...

It's official! We will publish a new horror story for children i February 2011; The Park. It's pretty spooky and has been a delight to write. It gives me a sort of balance to the romance series I'm working on. It's just plain fun to do something totally different. The manuscript needs some more work, but that's fine.
My new series is coming along just fine too. I had a two hour meeting with my editor on Wednesday - a very good meeting with lots of fun and constructive feedback - so it's looking good. I have a plan to finish it the coming week ...

15 Oct 2010

New book

New book is going very well, actually. There's a lot of research involved and there are times I wonder why I read so much when I know I'll use so little. But I don't know what I'll use or not use until I find it, and even then I might not use it until years later. In something else entirely.
I have to keep reminding myself that whenever I read an historical book, I love the details. I love to hear about how they dress, what the houses looks like, the shape of the landscape, the colours, the sounds and what the city/village looked like. It's important for the feel of the period. How else can I be transported to a time I don't know anything about, but love to read about because of a great story?
So I gather my facts like a little squirrel (okay, so not so little ...), and stow them away in folders and books, on the computer and in the bookshelves. Until one day, that one piece of information, will make a scene perfect.
Or so I tell myself when I sit in a dusty library with an ancient book from a time when they wrote funny and they couldn't spell.

27 Sep 2010

Long days ...

These days most of my time is spent on proof-reading with a deadline looming on Friday. Writers have different approaches to the process of writing. Some like it all, some prefer the research, some love the words on the page, and others - myself included - prefer the development of the story and the ideas. Frederick Forsythe doesn't like writing. He puts a lot of effort into research and then plans his story in detail before writing it in three weeks. Dean Koontz rewrite and rewrite - sometimes forty times - before he's satisfied. (How he gets the time, I can only guess).
Dorothy Parker sums it up beautifully: I hate writing. I love having written.
I couldn't agree more.

5 Sep 2010

Work in progress

I'm about halfway through the last book in a series I'm writing in Norwegian. This is the 11th book, and I'm finding it quite the challenge. The last book should be as good as the first - of course they should all be good - but when the production time for each book is about 5-6 weeks, something has to give. Mostly it's the outstanding literary qualites, excellent language and well- thought out storyline.
So what's left? Well, that's a good question. 
Tempo for one thing. I don't have time try out different storylines and mostly have to go with whatever pops into my mind. Sometimes that gets me to places that keeps the story moving in a good tempo. Other times I have to backtrack and rewrite despite the frustrations and the quick sideglances at the calendar. It's excellent training for the imagination, by the way. Keeps the old brain alert and focused - often on the border of insanity - but it's good. I also have to trust my characters to move the story along. That's good too. Characters are funny people - they live their own lives so to speak, and I just have to trust I have done enough ground work to keep the flow going. The trick is not to have too many characters, otherwise you are bound to forget someone ...
The series has been a joy to write. Yes, I've been moaning about the short deadlines, I've battled "keyboard elbow", and sometimes I've just been sitting in front of my computer, staring at the blank screen for hours. But the truth be told, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I had no idea I would be capable of writing a book in such short time. Now I know because since January I've written 6 books! Once you know that, there's no holding back.
Natalie

30 Aug 2010

A good day ...

This is a good day.
 Every day a manuscript leaves the house on it's way to the editor, is a good day. I love the feeling. Of course I immediately start to worry about what she'll say, but that's just ... static.
I have a very good feeling - the story is good, the plot works, the words are all in the right place, and I love our characters. It should be fine.
She'll love it.
I hope.
To quote Dorothy Parker: I hate writing. I love having written.
I know exactly what she meant ...
This manuscript is the third horror story for children, age 9-12. Working title: The Park.

19 Aug 2010

On the subject of rewriting

We are in the final stages of our new children's book. The story is in place and working very nicely. It's a horror book, so it has to be dark and spooky - which it is. It can be difficult to know how far we can go before giving the readers scars for life, but at the same time, children are different. Some children love to get spooked, and these books are for just those children. The books a popular with boys, so that's a good thing.
But back to rewriting.
It's a double-edged sword, isn't it? You want your story to be the best it can be, and at the same time you really don't want to go back into it. When I've finished one of my stories, I really don't want to start on page one and start hacking at it. I just want to start on a new story!
Since we are two writers on one story, we have different approaches to this. Anan attacks every word, he doesn't let anything slip away, and uses an hour on one page. I have no patience for that. I run through it, tired from the writing, and I miss the finer points.
I know rewriting is necessary and important. There's only so much time an editor has to use on one manuscript and so it's the writers job to do the best job he/she can do. The rewriting is easily the most important job - apart from writing the story, of course. Otherwise it would be like using a lot of energy on digging out the diamond, and then not bother to cut it.
I totally get that. I just lack the patience. Lucky for my, my wiriting buddy loves words and he loves polishing them until it sounds perfect.
It takes longer and it's really exhausting, but when our manuscript is sent to an editor, there's not that much work left. Editors love that!
And then I can finally start on a new story  without having to stop because of editorial demands.

12 Jul 2010

Summer ...

Oslo is hot and humid, inviting thunderstorms and heavy showers - and it's so difficult to write! My tempo slows down, it's like the keys on the keyboard are doused in syrup. I don't work well when it's too hot, I have to admit. I work, of course, but everythings seems to take so much more effort.
I have two manuscripts to finish this month, and although they are both progressing fairly okay, I would be happier if they progressed a lot more than fairly.
I need a new brain ...

29 Jun 2010

Looking for inspiration ...

My newest project is driving me reasonably nuts. It's not a bad situation, the stress of getting the story together is a great tool for inspiration. I keep running story lines through my head, testing this solution and that angle, and sometimes they're bad, sometimes there's diamonds in the dust. The important thing is to keep the motivation going  when the mountain is very high and I've fallen down for the millionth time ...

14 Jun 2010

Denmark!

Great news for us!
The Changeling has been picked up by Rosinante, a Danish publisher. That means that all three of our children's books are sold to Denmark. How cool is that?
The new one - also a horror story - lives under the working title of "The Park", (I know, not the best title, but I'm sure we'll come up with something better as we progress). We have a delivery date of August 2nd, so that it will get printed on February 1st next year - hopefully it will be accepted, and also sold to Denmark.
It's nice when this happens, gives us a boost and is really inspiring.

Keep it moving - the art of query letters ...

The most important thing to do - apart from actually writing manuscripts - is to keep the material moving. Sending our words out into the world and see what happens. So we have decided to do just that and the past few days we've spent time making a query letter. It's is difficult. We've done this quite a few times - anyone serious about their writing has to do this, and so there's much energy and agony over every word and phrasing.
The intention?
To get an agent or a publisher to ask toi see more of your stuff. So how do we do that? By being as straight forward and honest. No flippancy, no bragging, no overly self-praise. The material has to speak for itself, but you also need to convince the agent or publisher to want to read it. If the query letter is full of spelling mistakes (very important for us second language English speakers), or it's a "glory to us" letter, the person who reads it will most likely never make it to the second paragraph. In other words, the letter shouldn't sound to desperate, but not to "whatever" either.
Jeez - they should have classes in this ...
Anyway - the letter will be sent out this week, and then the wait for the phone call begins ...
Thankfully we are so busy with new and ongoing projects, we will (ha, ha) manage to put it out of our minds and be a bit que sera, sera about it.

1 May 2010

Enjoying a peek at our book at
the Oslo Airport March 2010

Autumn 2004, Cheltenham, UK - Waiting for the bus to town ...
A trainride to ... somewhere in the UK - 2005

Research at the British Museum, London
Preparing for interview with Harlan Coben, London
Photographer: A. Singh

4 Mar 2010

Not exactly Shelley ...

Ode to Spring!

The snow is in grey and filthy heaps on every street corner and open space. The monstertrucks with their gaping jaws spit snow over pavements and parked cars. My car is held hostage until warmer weather. Everytime I go to the grocery store, it's an extreme sport event. The pavements are sprinkled with lumpy ice and the icicles drip their icey warnings before they drop like silent bombs and explode – on someones head or on the ground, sending up a shower of shrapnel. The wind is sneaking around corners, waiting for a bite of naked flesh. Poor me – in my haste to enjoy the day, both gloves and woollen scarf is left behind. My neck is open prey to the wind when it lunges at my like frozen vampire in a feeding frenzy.
But it's spring!
On the way down a slippery hill I heard birds sing for the firs time this year. People waiting for busses and trams turn their sunhungry faces to the sun. All for a shade of warmth. The shingles on the rooftops break through the thick layer of snow that has held them in it's grip for these many months. My happy tree outside the kitchen window stretches hesistantly it's naked branches and looks like it's pondering shooting out buds at anytime now.
It's spring in Oslo!

1 Mar 2010

What will come ...

This blogg is under construction. What will come, is a tale of how we started writing together and what we have published. And who we are ...