Interview with Wilhelm Norsten

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a small island on the outskirts of Stockholm. Suburban neighbourhood, close to nature. I spent a lot of time running around the woods, climbing trees, building shelters, raiding blueberry bushes, trying not to step in bogs and tarns or underground wasp nests. Seems hardly surprising now that I'm drawn to the adventure genre, whether to read or write.
When did you first start writing?
First grade or so. I always had stories tumbling around in my head, but it wasn't until I was asked to write a 100 word (or so) story in class that I realised how much fun the written word could be. Not that mine were all that, mind you. I still favoured drawing over writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The aforementioned 100 word story. Something about a werewolf living in an abandoned sawmill in the middle of the woods (I watched way too much Scooby-Doo). I recall my teacher telling me it was 'a bit dark'.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first proper story? Not just toilet literature for impatient children? Hmm. I guess, technically, this wouldn't count as reading, but during after school activities when I was 8 or so, I found a cassette tape with stories from the Greek mythology. Particularly, the one about Theseus and the Minotaur. I listened to it over and over. It was wild. Theseus had braids like a girl and could lift huge rocks. There was the whole romance thing and the yarn and the labyrinth and the monster and Theseus forgetting to change his sails so his dad threw himself from the cliffs. It definitely sparked a lifelong affection for mythology of all kinds.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
In the act, finding out who the characters are, what they're all about, losing myself in the moment, and discovering things I couldn't ever have planned for. Afterwards, returning to be charmed by something I can't imagine having written, but manifestly have; and hearing what other people discover and experience when they read it.
What is your writing process?
Whimsical. Cyclical. I go from frantic activity with hardly a break to sleep, to long drear hiatuses and back again. If things stall or won't come, I do some chores, or take a walk, or have a shower. Sometimes the act of getting out of my chair is enough to get the machinery chugging. At other times something's missing, and I have to find it before I can continue. Could be music, could be a particular short story or poem, anything. And if all else fails, I write something unbearably bad. Better something than nothing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Besides roaming the woods, I read (though not enough of late), play games with friends and family (board games, video games, roleplaying games, you name it), binge-watch TV shows, listen to and appear on podcasts, scour the internet for inspirations large and small, experiment with cooking, meditate, conjecture on the nature of humanity (insofar as my rudimentary senses allow), dream up nonsense, and occasionally explore the zythosphere with glowy cheeks and glowier company.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything pulp. Fritz Leiber when the mood sags. Clark Ashton Smith when I want a kick in the language. Travelogues about distant places, like the Gobi. Newspaper misprints. Chesterton's poetry. Bits and bobs.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's a bit of whimsy that took on a life of its own. A collection of short stories, novellas, and a short novel. I wrote the very first story to cheer up a friend who was going through chemotherapy. I stuck a bunch of stuff I knew she liked in there – 'Ancient Aliens', Greek and Eastern mythology, a woman protagonist, intermittent silliness – and bolstered it with stuff of my own. I definitely wanted to write a woman sword-and-sorcery character that wasn't dour, grumpy, broken, doomed, desperately better than all the guys, or simply a man with boobs. Perhaps I succeeded, and perhaps I did not.
What are you working on next?
Prequels, sequels, tangentials, interstitials. If I'm not working on one, another demands my attention. Makes it a little extra frustrating when I fall into one of the aforementioned hiatuses, knowing I have so much unfinished material, but I keep coming back.
Published 2016-08-07.
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Books by This Author

In the Fig Tree's Shade
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 130,880. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Adventure » Action
The Iron Maiden, far-famed thief and knifer extraordinaire, and Minotaur, the bronze-headed titan, venturers unparallelled, seek the rumoured treasure-trove of the living gods of old. Against them stand the swords and sorceries of men and devils, of wilderness and empire, and the vagaries of their own wild hearts. Six tales of flashing sabres, high romance, blackest villainly, and myriad lunacies.