YOUR BACKGROUND IS JOURNALISM, HOW DID YOU TRANSITION TO FICTION?
Actually I started out with fiction and dumped into journalism because I liked to write. It was really hard for me to write cold facts especially when I found out that nothing really is true even when it comes to news reporting. My first short story that got published in a real book was one I wrote as homework when I was 15 years old. At that young age I earned my first money on writing. I was not unique; the book was the result of a competition from one of Norwegians biggest publishing houses (Gyldendal Norsk Forlag) that invited young people under the age of 20 years to send in short stories. I also won the same competition the year after and when I finished High School I started to work as a journalist in the local newspaper on Tysnes, the island which I come from. So to be quite frank journalism was a detour for me, since I ended back in fiction. I just figured that I needed some sort of education. To be able to live as a writer was to me a bit unrealistic. I'm also educated as an actor but during my years at theatre school I found out that I rather would write the plays than be on the stage. When writing I felt free, when trying to act I felt stiff and uncomfortable. During my years as an actor-student (1996-1998) I wrote my first novel Viss du vil/If you like.
YOU’VE WRITTEN A LOT OF OTHER BOOKS, IS MINUS ME YOUR FIRST BOOK TO BE TRANSLATED?
I think it's 15 books now, and the first to be published in another language was "Handgranateple" The Hand Grenade Apple" (2006) which was translated into German (Und ich dachte ich waren anders), I have a trilogy about a young female journalist and detective called Engel Winge (Angel Wing) that is translated into French. The third book is yet to be published. It has been hard to sell my books abroad because they contain to much sex, experimenting with alcohol, drugs and troubled young persons which curses a lot....The trilogy about Engel Winge is known the most rebellious. The books are loved by some and hated by some.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER NOVELS.
What I'm most known for in Norway is the books about Engel Winge a young girl who have a summer job in the same newspaper where I started out. She has her own way of getting in to trouble and annoying people. She acts more like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies than being a sweet Nancy Drew-like investigator. She messes things up is quite rude in her mouth and treats boys quite badly and for her own satisfaction. The books got some reactions because nice girls are not supposed to act like bad boys. I wrote the books because I wanted to create a female hero which is confident, loves her body and is the one to decide when to have sex or not. She even calls boys that play around for cheap whores. The fun thing about these books is that boys love them, even if I never intended to write for boys...
Handgranateple 2006 (The Handgrenade Apple) was my break through in Norway. It's about girls beeing violent not only talking behind each others backs. The main character is a very sweet girl called Anja, which get her self a new friend called Malin which has a very bad reputation when it comes to violence and vandalism. Malin is so much fun to be with and very kind to Anja and it feels fun and liberating to be a mean girl all the way until things get out of hand.
All my books are kind of exploring the same question: How far are you willing to go to be loved. In many ways Minus Me also asks that question.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? HOW DO YOU GO FROM CONCEPT TO EXECUTION?
It normally starts out with a character that pops up in my head. This character has a problem or a strong desire. I play around with that character in my head for a year, maybe longer. I don’t start to write before I more or less have the whole story in my head. When writing I need to see the whole thing in my head like a movie, if I cant see it clearly in my head I don’t write it. If I cant see it when it’s written, how can my reader see it. I enter the story like virtual reality; I see, hear, smell and feel. My main character is my avatar. When I wrote Minus Me I was Linda. She is I in the given circumstances.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARTS OF THE BOOK WAS HOW REAL (AND IN PLACES, CRUEL) THE CHARACTER OF LINDA IS. WAS THERE ANY TEMPTATION TO MAKE HER MORE LIKABLE?
I’m very self-absorbed, all the characters in my books represents sides of my self. That is because I really can’t write anything out of another human beings head. Details like names, clothes and looks I steal freely, but how they act and react I can only take from my self.
Linda is probably my most likable protagonist ever, so the hard thing was really to make her nicer. It’s very human to make mistakes even when we know what is right it’s tempting to do wrong. This book is very much about whom you choose to be. Whether a person is good or bad is decided by the deeds, if you want to be good you have to say and do nice things and vice versa. But it’s not that simple, sometimes we want to be considered nice but its so tempting to be bad anyway. It’s so tempting to make a joke on someone else behalf to make the crowd laugh.
WHO ARE SOME AUTHORS WHO HAVE BEEN INFLUENTIAL TO YOU AS A WRITER? HOW SO?
Growing up I read any book I came across, so I’m probably influenced by more writers than I’m aware of. But I guess that very few children in Scandinavia are not influenced by Astrid Lindgrens work, I loved her sad and dark stories the most. I really loved the book Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and every sad story written by Charles Dickens. I really loved Roald Dahls writing and a whole lot of Norwegian contemporary writers that wrote for children. Nothing is taboo to write about for children and juveniles in Scandinavia and that results in a very true and honest literature. So when I decided to become a writer I made a promise to my self; always to respect my young readers ability to think for her/himself, to be unafraid and never avoid to write about things that could be painful, embarrassing or something that could be offending to someone including my own family.
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR MINUS ME COME FROM?
When I was eleven years a lot of things happened in my family, my grandfather died in cancer, my fathers aunt living on the farm where I grew up also died and my father was hospitalized a lot with a chronic disease. All of these things made me think about life and death. And more so, I became (I guess) a bit difficult at school. I remember not liking certain teachers and I think they disliked me back with good reason. I could be really big in my mouth. None of these life events of mine is referred to in the book, but it was some of the things that made emotional capable to invent the story about Linda, Zak and Axel.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND MORE OF YOUR WORK?
I have a blog: www.ringelin.com but all of it in Norwegian I’m afraid, maybe I should update it and translate it into English? On the other hand I’m quite absorbed in the work with a new book and that’s more fun… Maybe the best way is if I write as brilliant as I can, and then maybe some more books of mine will find its way into the English-speaking world?