“Readers are made at a young age” | Nina Elisabeth Grøntvedt

“Readers are made at a young age” | Nina Elisabeth Grøntvedt

Nina Elisabeth Grøntvedt is an award-winning Norwegian writer, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe. Nina will be appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017 later this month. Here she talks about her new story for Odyssey, our new anthology of  stories for children, inspired by journeys. 

Tell us about your story…
My short story is about unrequited love. It’s a feeling I think most people can identify with. I for sure have had my fair share of not being loved back. (And I just love writing about LOVE.)

When did you decide to become an author?
Maybe around the time my second book was published, in 2008. That’s when I started writing what would become my first children’s novel.

When did you publish your first book?
In 2006. It was a picture book, in which I also did the illustrations and layout. It was originally one of my projects at university, from when I took a bachelor in illustration.

What is special about writing for children?
I think it’s so important to give kids lots of good quality literature that they can identify with, as I believe readers are made at a young age. If you develop a love for books and reading as a kid, that love will hopefully carry on as you grow up, and all through life. Also, I love exploring all the BIG FIRSTS you experience as a young person. The first big love, the first big quarrel or fight with a friend, the first kiss, the first time you lose someone close to you, and so on. Those big feelings you experience at a young age – the roller coaster ride of life – I love writing about that. And hopefully someone who read my stories will identify with them, find them entertaining or find comfort in them, maybe some realize that no matter how dark things may seem at times, it will get better. I put my fictional characters through so many difficult, awkward and embarrassing situations. Not only because I love writing that stuff, but also to show my readers that they get through it.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the anthology and the Hay Festival?
I see it as a great honor and an amazing opportunity to reach out to even more young readers. I’m so looking forward to being a part of this whole thing, and I cannot wait to find out who the other 38 are, and to read their stories. And hopefully I’ll get to meet them too!

Do you have a favourite spot where you write?
I have a whole loft in our house, all to myself, to use as a writing space. It has an awesome view of the city of Trondheim, the fjord and the hills all around. This SHOULD be my favorite writing spot, but it’s not. The truth is, my writing loft is a big, untidy mess, with piles of books, paper, and all sorts of stuff, everywhere. Instead of tidying up, I always end up sitting with my laptop at our dining room table or in the corner of our sofa, in the living room. I love sitting in the same room as my family. Even if they’re not able to get in contact with me when I’m consumed with writing, and even if that really annoys them, it makes me feel less lonely having them around me while I work.

How do you get inspired?
I have no idea. I guess I just sit down and force myself to write, even if I’m not inspired, and then suddenly I get in a flow. When the uninspired period carries on for a long period of time, as it did with my latest novel, it can be really hard, and I almost feel like giving up. But then suddenly something happens and a story begins to take shape anyway, and I’m so grateful that I carried on writing.