And of course, as it’s Wednesday, it means I have another fab Meet the Author interview for you! Today I’m thrilled to be talking to the lovely Natalie Normann about writing in two languages, the amazing amount of books she has written, why she wouldn’t grant someone an easy life if she were a genie, and her most recent book. Summer Island….
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a Norwegian writer and until Summer Island, I have always written in Norwegian. I have written thrillers, childrens books and three historical romance series in Norwegian. I grew up in a small town on the west-coast and left right after high school, determined to go to university and read everything I could get my hands on.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
There wasn’t any particular moment where I decided to write. It grew out of a desire to use my own words to tell stories. I started when I was very young, writing my own sequels to movies or books I loved. So, I wrote fan-fiction long before it had a name.
My ideas comes from all sorts of places. It can be the smallest things; a picture in a book or something someone says, a news paper article, or a memory. I believe that the more you write and work on stories, the more ideas you get. Your brain becomes more alert, you pay more attention to things, so anything can trigger ideas.
How many books have you written and published?
I had my first book published 25 years ago. So far, I have published 58 books in Norwegian. Summer Island is my first book in English. And, since I’m a bit proud of this; It’s not a translation.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I have a full-time job writing a historical romance series, and with one of those books, I have about 6-8 weeks to write a book. Before I started to write series, it took me 2-3 years to finish a book! Writing Summer Island took maybe six months for the first draft, but I was writing it inbetween the Norwegian books. As I do now, with the next one, Christmas Island.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
In Summer Island Ninnis father, Petter, runs a bookstore. I think, if he brought his books to the island, we’d get along perfectly fine. And he’s not too young for me, either.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. It’s been with me ever since I started reading, I think. I would read one or two books a day when I was growing up, and I was fascinated by stories. I couldn’t get enough and when I didn’t have access to books, I wrote my own stories to entertain myself.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
The same advice I give when someone ask me for advice now. When I started to take writing more serious, I spent so much time and energy on the first three-four chapters, I never finished a whole book. The first time I finished a whole draft, I almost fell off my chair. It was the greatest feeling. What I learned from that, was that it doesn’t matter that the first draft feels horrible, that’s what edits and rewriting is for. But to edit and rewrite, you need a complete story. Also, those pesky three first chapters? They are almost always thrown out in the next draft when you realise they don’t work with the rest of the story.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes, I do. I’m not convinced it will always last forever, but I believe it happens.
If you were a genie, what wish would you refuse to grant and why?
A genie? I love that. If someone wanted an easy life with no conflicts or problems, I would refuse it, because life is chaotic and problematic, and that’s what makes it interesting. If you don’t have any hard times at all, how can you appreciate the good times? And also, for a writer, that would be awful. I’d have nothing to write about!
What is something you can’t live without?
Easy. I can’t live without coffee and books. And maybe chocolate and my pillow.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
For me it will be the mind-blowing plot. If there’s no plot, there’s no story and why then should I care about what happens to the characters? Characters still need a story and if that story is weak, it’s not going to be enough. Nor does it help if the settings is amazing.
how do you manage to write in two languages?
As often as I can, I divide my work day in two parts. I always write the Norwegian manuscript first, so that I’m sure I can manage my deadline. Then I work on the English manuscript. I’m having so much fun with it, but sometimes it can be confusing. I once wrote a whole paragraph in my Norwegian manuscript in English without realising it and then had to translate it back. And of course, there’s the constant challenge of figuring out what’s American English and what’s British English. To my ears they sound the same, but, trust me, they’re not. Which is why I have a British proof-reader who knows the difference. I’ve had a few surprises.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Summer Island was out on the 24th of June. It’s a contemporary romance, set in Norway. It’s a story about belonging somewhere, even when it’s in a strange place.
Norway might not be the first spot on peoples list for romantic destinations, but maybe it should be. Summers here can be absolutely wonderful.
final words from me…
Thanks Natalie for coming over to Curled Up With A Good Book and talking to us. I’m blown away that you’ve published 58 books, that’s an insane amount and an amazing achievement! Writing in both Norwegian and English does sound like a challenge and I’m sure it keeps you on your toes! You’ve also shared some fantastic advice so thank you! And finally, I love he cover of Summer Islands ~ it’s beautiful! I hope to visit Norway one day and look forward to reading this, I”m sure it will make me want to come even more!
If you have any questions or comments for Natalie, then get in touch using the links or drop your comments below.
Have a wonderful day!