Once Upon a Time in the North

There’s one question in particular that keeps popping up more often than others in regard to my writing: What made you write a western? And then there’s a string of follow-up inquiries: What inspired you? How did you come up with the idea for the book(s)? Have you always liked westerns?

A lot of folks seem puzzled about my passion for the Old West. I can’t blame them. I realize it must seem odd that a 30-something year old Norwegian girl, who has never set foot upon a prairie, delves into an era long gone and far away from the fjords and glaciers of her home country. Frankly, I find it hard to explain, but I’ll give it a whirl.

Up until a few years ago my interest for the Old West was a fleeting fascination that manifested itself at irregular intervals. It was kind of like a big ole fish with a double revolver rig and broad brimmed hat that kept to the murky shallows, out of sight, but ever present, occasionally breaking the surface with a whoop and a holler.

As a child, I was far more interested in constructing swords out of sticks than anything that went “pang” or “boom” or “pew, pew, pew.” I didn’t give a hoot about horses, actually: I found them downright intimidating. The closest I got to a stable was a pink and white plastic house for my My Little Pony ponies.

I read the Lucky Luke comics and watched the cartoons, he was the cowboy of my childhood. I saw the Terrence Hill movie Lucky Luke at the cinema in 1991. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, although I was somewhat distraught about Luke being blonde in the movie.

A few years later Bad Girls came out, and the next year: The Quick and the Dead. Women badasses! Huzzah! I watched Dances with Wolves on VHS with my mother. My grandfather gave me Tom Sawyer to read. I was fascinated, but I was a kid and my fascination turned to the next cool thing quicker than you can reload a Schofield.

I played the video game Gun when it came out, and my fascination for the western genre was again revived. I discovered the work of Sergio Leone and watched a handful of his movies. I absolutely loved them. This was at the time when I studied literature. My main interest was works from the 19th century, but “all things western” had yet to enthrall me.

It wasn’t until the video game Red Dead Redemption came out that my fascination for the western genre would yet again bloom and finally: not shrivel. This reclaimed fascination spurred my interest to delve further into the genre.

Right in the middle of this cowboy daze I was given a book about writing from a writer friend. At the time, I had started outlining a fantasy novel. I put it aside, figuring a short, action-packed western would be a better place to begin the project of writing a book. What was meant to be a test, to see if I could write a book-length text, turned into my main writing project.

Lee came to life from an outlaw costume I was constructing for myself (preparations for Halloween). I drew a sketch of the attire and started thinking up a name and background story for the character. The skeleton of a story emerged. The first half of that story became Embers at Dawn.

I think that’s about a good a description as I can give y’all about the whys and hows of the uprising of my western fascination. I’ll save details on research, musings on the western genre and further ramblings from an author’s life for later.

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