Merry Christmas!

I received two new books on writing, a new novel by Jo Nesbø and an iTunes giftcard so I can buy more books, amongst other things.

merry-christmas

What did you get, what was/is your Christmas like? 🙂

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Reklamer

Smashwords

I decided that I will publish my latest book, Trouble in Trondheim: Bikers and Gangsters, through Smashwords (and Amazon, for Kindle).

Smashwords will publish authors’ books to all the largest retailers, including Apple’s iBooks, Barnes and Nobles’ Nook and Kobo.

They will also help you as an author with marketing, through an affiliate program where you can get paid to market other people’s books!

As if that wasn’t enough, you can launch your book as a preorder in multiple stores. Right now, my book is available on the iBooks store, but will eventually be available on Nook and many others. I will update the book’s page with links as they become available.

Review: Moleskine Volant

For the past months, I’ve been writing on iPad for journalistic assignments, or on free journals from my university in my spare time.

But a couple of days ago, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring extra journals with me home, and that, thusly, I needed new ones.

After mulling for a bit too long in the store, I ended up buying a set of two Moleskine Volants, because it seemed like a good compromise between quality, number of pages and price.

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If you don’t care about quality at all, then these are not for you. They are, frankly, way to expensive for that. However, if you want a journal that you can store in your backpack (large) or pocket (small) without worrying about wrecking them, these are for you.

They also come with enough pages (96, large and 82, small), so you won’t run out of pages in the foreseeable future.

As if that wasn’t enough, the first page has a sentence: «In case of loss, please return to:», underneath which you can fill out your address and a specified amount as a reward. Neat!

Last but not least, the small version comes with detachable pages, and the large version comes with the last sixteen pages detachable. In case you should need it 🙂

One thing I found annoying was that the ridge of the journal was too stiff, making the first page hard to write on, but other than that, I totally love these journals.

Highly recommended!

Release of Freedom

My first book, a collection of short stories, was originally published through Lulu, and has been unavailable for a long period of time.

However, I just decided to re-release it on Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace. As of tomorrow, it will be available for free for five days. I hope everyone with a Kindle reading this will get it, and vote. Everyone else: You can also get it on any Apple and/or Android device, thanks to Amazon’s Kindle app! 😀

Please write a review and vote. It means the world to me, thank you.

 

To celebrate, here is one of the short stories of the book.

Short story 10

Police chief Karl Frantzen was growing impatient. He stood planted in the family skiff, peering into the marina, where his daughter Eve came first, lifting a couple of beach chairs; followed by his wife, carrying their youngest son. «Are you coming,» he hollered with his powerful voice in a broad Kristiansand accent.

“Yes, yes!”

Eve sighed. «Why is it always me that has to lift the heavy stuff,» she thought to herself. Originally she’d planned to be alone this holiday, instead of going out to the cabin as they always did. But the thought of meeting Mark again made her warm inside.
Mark was an only child living with his parents in Oslo. Eve’s parents had lived there when she was little, but for as long as she could remember, she’d lived in Kristiansand.

“Was that it?”

Karl looked around the boat when Eve had eased the beach chairs on board.

“Yes, that was it. Come on, Mark and the others are probably waiting for us already!”

“Well, well, we best get going then.”

Eve had already gone to the front of the boat, throwing the mooring. Fifteen minutes later the skiff was chugging from the marina at Lund to the port of Kristiansand, where the Karlsen family was lined with all their rucksacks. The first person on land was Eve; she took the mooring, throwing herself in Markus’s arms immediately.

“Hey, good to see you again!”

They smiled at each other. Eve realized that she had missed the smell of his coal—black hair, which smelled faintly of orange, his slightly crooked mouth that seemed skewed when he smiled, and the sight of the dark brown of his eyes.
Soon all had come on board in the newly—stained skiff that slowly chugged out into the southern archipelago.

“My arms are freezing, look! Oh, how lovely it is to be out at sea!”

Eve stretched out her arm towards Mark, he touched it, nodding. She had goose bumps.

“What are you thinking? You’re so quiet.”

She was looking intently at him, as he was turning his head slowly away from the small window overlooking the ocean, and peering at her.
«I don’t know,» he said. «It’s so outrageously hot lately, I’ve felt as if the temperature’s been rising with every passing day.»

“Mark, Eve! Won’t you come up on deck? We have fresh shrimp and white wine here; you can get a glass each!”

“Not now Dad!”

Eve stood up. «I’m going up,» she said. «I’m tired of sitting here, we’re almost there.»
Mark continued staring out the window. «Maybe I’ll come up in a bit.»
Up on the deck of newly—stained skiff, the Frantzen and Karlsen families were seated around a small table eating shrimp. Eve’s father, a bearded, bespectacled man with clout and pipe was sitting with one hand on the wheel while picking up shrimp with the other.

“Hi Eve; won’t Mark come up?”

Eve’s mother looked at her in amazement.

“No, I think he wanted to be at peace.”

«He’s probably just tired,» replied Mark’s mother.
Eve sat on a small stool that stood close to her, picking up a shrimp and peering out at the sea. Along with the skiff’s chugging ever further out at sea, they were still surrounded by plenty of islets, reefs and islands of varying sizes. Here and there they passed by other boats, some with families looking like they were going on vacation, like themselves, others with a pair of lonely fishermen aboard.
Usually, she loved this life. She loved being on the southern coast, sunbathing, reading books, listening to the radio, and not having to worry about school; thus far, nothing could contradict that, but she couldn’t help feeling at an undercurrent of uncertainty.
In her mind she suspected that it had something to do with Mark, who was usually very excited to see her again, and now most of all seemed as if he wanted to be alone, immersed in his own thoughts. And then there was the heat; God, what a heat. It’d been supernaturally hot all month, but for the past two days the heat had been almost unbearable.
She turned to her father, who was delightedly puffing on his pipe and alternating between staring at the map that was taped to the wall next to him and watching out for oncoming traffic and unforeseen reefs.

“Are we almost there?”

“Soon, Eve; I guess we have half an hour left, approximately. It will be nice to get out to the cabin again, right?”

“Mm.”

The adults weren’t concerned about the heat at all, what they talked about was the Watergate scandal in the United States.
Eve concluded that they must’ve noticed it, but thought that it was normal, or had simply decided not to worry because they thought they could do nothing about it. And per se, they were right; aside from traveling out to the cabin, of course.
Eve’s mother was sitting with Little John on her lap, babbling; only partially involved in the conversation with the others. Little John was two years old; everyone called him Little John, as he was named after Eve’s grandfather.
When Eve had gone to the front of the boat to get ready to moor, Mark finally came up from below deck. «I’ll have the top bunk,» he shouted. «Fat chance,» Eve cried back, throwing herself to land, bringing the mooring with her, before hurriedly tying a quick reef knot, running as fast as she could after Mark, who was already a few yards ahead of her.
The sun was burning her face, but she paid it no mind. All her senses were too busy recognizing smells, sounds and visual stimuli as she ran through the warm grass.
The cabin was located on a small hill opposite the pier. As Eve had come at the very top of the hill Mark was already unlocking the cabin. Sprinting all she could, she threw herself under Mark’s arm just as he opened the door, ran through the living room and into the bedroom she and Mark would be sleeping in.
«Gotcha,» she cried triumphantly as Mark entered the room with a view of the sea just a few seconds later. «That was cheating,» he said, «but I’ll be kind and won’t cavil”.

“Haha, you must learn that it pays to not open the door.”

“I’ve fallen for that before, haven’t I?”

«You certainly did last year,» Eve replied, laughing.

“Could you open the window, by the way?”

Mark nodded in recognition.

“It feels like I’m about to melt!”

Mark’s father appeared outside the window, carrying bags.

“Come on down to the boat, both of you — you need to help with carrying stuff!”

«Yes, yes,» Mark cried, irritated. He reluctantly went out of the room, signaling to Eve that she should follow.

“Just go ahead, I’m coming,” she cried from the top bunk. With a yawn, Eve closed her eyes and fell asleep on the pillow behind her.

*

From inside the room, she could hear her name being called out. She jumped up from the bed, jumped down on the floor and went into the living room.

“Will you join us for a game of Monopoly?”

Her mother and father looked at her; Mark’s parents were placing pieces with their backs facing her.

“Not right now, do you know where Mark is?”

“He went out a few minutes ago, said he wasn’t able to play Monopoly right now.”

“Is it OK with you if I go and look for him?”

“Of course, just don’t go into the woods alone without a flashlight!”

She closed the door behind her, peering out into the darkness and began walking towards the sea. The feeling of grass under her feet was making her mildly euphoric, almost ecstatic. Mark was down by the pier, looking up at the starry sky. She quietly went and lay down beside him, without saying a word.
«Have you noticed something,» said Mark, without looking at her.
«No, but I’m doing it now,» she replied immediately with her eyes fixed on a red dot that had seemed like a mere trifle last night. By now, it had grown at least twice as big, looking as if it was fluttering along with the heat waves positively knocking against them.
«I wonder what it is,» she said, looking at him.

“I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Whatever it is, it gives me a bad feeling. Do you remember the way we used to sit here on the dock for hours and catch crabs when we were littler?”

He turned as he spoke, staring at her, smiling.

“Yes, I do. It was great fun; I remember that I always tried to get larger and larger crabs, for I wanted to catch one that I could eat!”

“Heheh.”

“Hehehe!”

Eve stood up. «I want to swim,» she said, taking Mark’s hand.

“Now? It’s eleven o’clock at night!”

“Yes, now. Did you think I meant tomorrow? It’s ridiculously hot out.”

Mark looked at her in amazement, but got up. He’d barely reached his feet before Eve pushed him into the water.

“Jerk!”

“Haha, you won’t have to change, your clothes will be dry in the morning when you wake up.”

Before any of them had time to think about it, Eve jumped into the water. The clothes made it difficult to move, but at least she had no shoes on. She opened her eyes; they burned a little; orienting herself, she found Mark’s legs, pulling him under, close. Holding his thin, almost frail body, she hesitated a moment before kissing him. Mark’s dark brown eyes were closed, and she could feel his tongue touching hers. Soon he opened his eyes, gave her a long and hard stare, before kicking his legs, pulling her to the surface and taking hold of her, pulling her even closer to him. The water lit by the dim glowing moon made her blonde, curly hair her twinkle as if coated with silver, complimenting her light skin. The smell of salt water, Marks’s dulcet body odors and pollen from the trees on land filled Eve’s stomach with butterflies. Soon, they both lay in the dry grass, embracing each other. «Touch me,» she whispered.
As they started walking toward the cabin, it was with the knowledge that what had just happened would never again happen for any of them.
Within the cabin, everyone had gone to sleep, and the total silence that prevailed created a sense of vacuum packed loneliness, enveloped in a pitch dark warm night. Exhausted, they fell asleep on the couch, counting each other’s heartbeats.

 

*

Eve woke up suddenly to sounds reminiscent of hissing and milling around the cabin.
She looked around, realizing that Mark still lay in the crook of her elbow. A quick glance out the living room window revealed a landscape on fire. The flames were licking up the tree trunks with seemingly unstoppable force, and the wind from the sea didn’t seem to make things better.
Mark was fast asleep, but she shook and struggled until he finally woke up.

“Mark, it’s burning!”

“Huh? Are you kidding me?”

“No, my God, look out!”

One look was enough — Mark threw himself off the couch, across the floor and into his parents’ bedroom.
Soon both families stood out in front of the cottage, with no clue what was happening. The landscape around them was riddled with rocks in all shapes and sizes; many of them still red hot.
Mark looked up; the sky above them was darkened by ash, the dot from the previous evening now occupying most of the sky. Mark kissed Eve as intensely as he could.

The others hugged each other, staring for a moment on the glowing sky, closing their eyes until they were surrounded by a deafening roar.

On the Nativity Story

I remember watching The Nativity Story at a cinema in Pittsburgh with my first and only girlfriend in 2006. It is the best film adaptation of the nativity gospels, if you ask me.

What is it that makes those gospels so great, such that they are embraced almost universally, regardless of background and religion?

I think the primary reason is that they are, at their core, good stories. Imagine Joseph. I believe he must have been scared to his core, scared to raise a child that he knew nothing about.

Imagine Mary. I think she must have been scared to her core, scared to commit to the stranger that had been appointed to her.

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I think they found each other through the fear, while they both, each in their own way, showed immense strength and courage.

Joseph and Mary are idols, not just for marriage, but for how people should behave, full stop.

Imagine the magi. The travelled across half of the known world for something that they believed in. At the same time, they managed to fool the bad guy of the story.

Imagine Herod. A man so consumed by hatred, so power-hungry that he was indirectly responsible for killing all of the firstborn in a city the size of half of Oslo. I think you’d have trouble coming up with a better baddie if you tried.

You can say many things about the Bible. But the nativity gospels are good stories, about humans facing inhuman situations, humans standing up for what they believed in and inhuman humans of epic proportions. Everything sat against an exotic backdrop. That’s the kind of stuff good stories are made of!

Interestingly, both Matthew and Luke’s stories about the nativity are laughably short. Many scholars and theologians agree that the gospels were written down a good few years after Matthew and Luke had passed, and in light of this it could seem as though many years have been spent trying to peel away everything superfluous in the original stories, so that what was actually recorded was the essence of the essence.

We aren’t even privy to the details surrounding Mary and Joseph’s marriage – all we know about this is based on historical science.

This is amazing storytelling, even if taken to its extreme. If the stories were to have been written as a novel today, they would still be great stories, but shallow to the point of naivete.

Perhaps that says more about current storytelling traditions than it does about the nativity gospels.

After all, why spend six hundred pages trying to say something that could be said in fifty?

First chapter of Trouble in Trondheim

I’ve had a recent influx of likes for my Facebook page, and to celebrate I’m posting the first chapter from my forthcoming book, Trouble in Trondheim. It will be released on Amazon within the next few months. Watch this space!

Prologue

Chapter 1

Everything started at Trolla Brug in Trondheim. Outside the old, run down shipyard stood three trailers with Russian license plates. Each of them had a tail of people throwing bags containing heroin to each other in the rain.

Kurt Hammer stood on one of the trailers, relieved that ten tons of heroin were soon out of the cars. Out of the shipyard walked Padda, a bald man with a considerable frame and a flat face, which made up one half of the leadership in Trondheim Hells Angels.

— Lars?

Kurt looked questioningly at the bald face, planted between two enormous shoulders.

— You’re free to go, I’ll take it from here. The guys have done well, the trailers are almost empty!

— Sure?

— Unless you want to help us split the shit into bags?

— No thanks, I’ll pass on that, at least until tomorrow!

Kurt threw the bag in his hands to the russian behind him, before jumping down from the trailer and onto his Triumph Thunderbird. It originated from a police seizure, and this past month had barely seen him outdoors without it.
The drive to Ila took him all of six minutes, and three minutes later in front of Thon Hotell Prinsen he thought about making a detour to the police station to hand in his pistol and machinegun – the thought of seeing his fiancé Marte and hid newly born daughter again made him quickly ditch the idea.

He sped on past the old grey brick building with red details that was Prinsen cinema. When he passed Studentersamfundets red facade he was bombarded with raindrops the size of golf balls. Finally, outside his flat in Volveveien 11A at Nardo, water and sweat dripped off his entire body. The four room flat looked like a wooden square, painted white, with a small quadratic shed in front of it, which also served as a storage place for garbage containers. Coupled with the first flat was another flat, this one oblong and painted black, also with its own shed in front.

He jumped off the bike and gave it a clap on its seat, before walking across the gravel and putting his hand on the doorknob. Closed – perhaps she was sleeping in?
He found the key under the mat on which he stood before putting it in the keyhole and turning the lock.

— Hello, Marte? I’m home!

No one answered. Instinctively he went out the door again and picked up his gun from the bag on the bike.
Inside he could feel a cold breeze emanating from the kitchen. The living room window turned out to be shattered, but beyond that, he could find no signs of anything out of the ordinary. He couldn’t find any footprints. That should be impossible in this weather. The people who had broken in must have removed their shoes, he reasoned. With his pistol still in both hands, he entered the bedroom.

At once, all doubts about the unknown perpetrator’s identity faded. In the black double bed Fjell from Ikea, Marte lay chained with two handcuffs. Her long, curly tresses wound neatly down past her shoulders. A gaping grimace had melted itself onto her face as a sort of cruel last goodbye. A bullet hole had manifested itself in her forehead, another in her stomach. The duvet was steeped in blood. He could barely watch the cot in the other side of the room. What was there wasn’t so much the remains of a human being as a cadaver.

He turned on his heel and went back to his bike. Rationally speaking, he should have dialed 112 – rational thinking had just passed into another dimension.
He drove from Nardo to Trolla Brug in a blind, violent rage with an average speed of 80 kilometers an hour. When he arrived, the trailers were already gone, but he found most of the bikes still parked outside. The last thing he did before going in was to put on the bulletproof vest safely placed in his bike’s bag. Inside the warehouse stood Padda, Martin, Ramberg, Flisa and several others. Some were opening bags; others were splitting the heroin into small zip lock bags. “If my colleagues had been here, they’d have laughed at the entire operation – how extremely careless,” he thought.
However, they weren’t here, it was just him and his machinegun. It turned into a real battle – heroin and blood squirted everywhere, like paint onto the misty grey relief outside.

Half an hour later it was all finished – twenty or so bodies were scattered on the grey concrete floor, on wooden tables and behind boxes.

Without a word, he hoisted himself up from a crouching position, went outside, positioned himself on the bike and drove home.
A few hours later, he turned on the television in Volveveien 11A.

— Trolla Brug has seen what looks to be a gang war. Trolla Brug is the headquarters of Hells Angels in Trondheim. Seventeen people were murdered and three people severely injured in what police describes as the worst shootout in the history of Trondheim.

Kurt Hammer opened another bottle of Jack Daniels and waited for the sirens.

Agatha Christie

Last night I started watching a documentary about Agatha Christie’s life and work for the third or fourth time. She’s influenced me greatly in the way I think about plotting and writing in general.

I grew up watching David Suchet play Poirot on TV, and eventually also started reading the books. Agatha’s stories have sold so many copies that the only literary work to surpass them is the Bible. When asked about her success, John Curran told David Suchet that he believes that it is so enduringly popular because she wrote such simple plots. «Doesn’t matter if you have no education or whether you’re a nuclear scientist, you can understand where she’s coming from».

Agatha Christie as a child.

Agatha Christie as a child.

Add to that multiple layers of psychological complexity in her characters, and you can begin to understand why people love her work so much. She’s obviously one of my literary idols, and she’s taught me to focus on my plotting and to tighten it as much as possible.

Agatha also has an edge in a lot of her novels. Many are placed in exotic locales, something which inspires me a lot, because I love to travel and I like love literature as a form of escapism. My current novel is partially set in Moscow, bringing an international flavor to the plot which is mostly set in Trondheim.