Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Behind The Words // Berit Ellingsen

Berit Ellingsen's focus is on speculative and literary fiction. Oh. And fjords. She's based in Norway and her entire presence on the web (and in my world) is streamlined and precise. I know she'll disagree with this statement.

I met Berit on Twitter and continue to enjoy following her and learning what fascinating and 'science-y' stuff she's currently writing about. She comes across as a very prolific and knowledgeable creator. Let's learn a bit more about what drives her to write, and how she does it at home:


Berit on Berit...

My name is Berit Ellingsen and I’m a Norwegian literary and speculative writer. That means I’m from the same cold part of the world as Stieg Larsson, but write stories with less words than him, or set in imaginary worlds.

I have written several short stories, ranging from science fiction, fantasy and horror to stories set in our world. They have been published various places on the net and in different print anthologies. I also dabble in creative non-fiction. The themes span from free divers to people who are obsessed with buildings. For a list and links, see the “Bibliography” page on The Empty City website.

My longest work is a book called The Empty City. It’s about becoming comfortable with silence, letting go of the past and finding yourself. The story is set in an unspecified city, and in dreams and images of the main character. It's told in short episodes that each describe a place in the city, a dream, a question, a memory or an event.


Berit within space and time...

My writing space is a small desk in front of a couple of floor to ceiling bookshelves and a figurine of Cthulhu from Lovecraft’s fiction and Dante from the first Devil May Cry game. They are there to inspire. I don’t eat or listen to music while I write, because I need to hear myself think while I write.My cats usually sleep on the desk next to me, which is, as we say in Norwegian, very cozy.

Berit on her current work...

Right now I’m working on a short story about the study of decay, and thinking about a hard, ie scientifically based, SF story. The decay story is different from my other literary fiction short stories as they tend to have little description. This particular story is transmitted only through descriptions, so it’s a departure from my standard MO. I love to try out new approaches, new styles and new genres.

The hard SF story is for a short story anthology, and you never know if your story will be included in the collection or not, so it’s impossible to say when it may be out. But I post all news on my website and on twitter, so you’ll be the first to see my new stories when they are published. Have a few coming up this month.

Berit on her writing habits...

Much of my writing is inspired by the philosophies of zen, taoism and nonduality. For these philosophies, questions about the nature of individuality, consciousness and interconnectedness are important. These questions and subjects also appear in my writing. I see a few other writers working with similar questions, but not a whole lot of people.

I write on my trusty old laptop, it has a larger screen than new laptops today, and a good keyboard. I try to write at least a little every day. Sometimes I can finish the first draft of a story in one evening, other times just first draft of a page. If it’s a complex story, I manage fewer words per day than for a less complex story, hence the amount of writing I do per day really varies. I do believe in sitting down every day to write, even if I don’t feel inspired, since ideas will often appear after a while. But there must also be an element of fun to it, which I believe will shine through to the story.

I usually ad lib first draft and then do a lot of fine tuning and editing of subsequent drafts. Usually 8 to 10 edits and corrections (not global rewrites). I always find something to tweak and improve.

I don’t plan much beforehand, maybe an image or a setting or an ending, and then write to transmit or reach that point. If I plan beforehand, I always deviate from it, so that’s not the best method for the time being. For longer works, planning may be needed.

Berit on her tribe...

I share living space with two extremely affectionate Burmese cats, and as is typical for cats, they don’t mind me writing as long as I take time to talk with and pet them when they are awake. Since they sleep for much of the day, that leaves plenty of time in the evenings to write.

My family and friends know I write and they support it. I’m lucky to have friends and family that don’t mind me writing.

Thank you so much, Jason!



My pleasure, Berit. It is extremely fascinating for me to learn about some of these 'inside' things when it comes to fellow writers. Sharing a glimpse of your world was a pleasure for me, and no doubt, for my guest readers here at the Farthest Reaches as well. To learn more about Berit Ellingsen, please visit:

The website for the novel The Empty City:
http://emptycitynovel.com/

Berit's personal blog:
http://www.ninja-wizard.blogspot.com/



8 comments:

  1. Great new feature, Jason.
    Berit, I'm fascinated by your work and influences. The Empty City is one I will definitely have to read.

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  2. Thanks for visiting, Darcia!

    Yes, Berit has an interesting approach and her finished style (from what I've read) comes across at first as streamlined and almost, dare I say, barren. But her word choice and sentence construction feels so intentional that I soon discovered a very loaded meaning in every line of her calculated prose.

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  3. Thank you so much for the kind introduction and the fun interview questions, Jason! :) It's a great pleasure to be here on the Farthest Reaches. :) I'm learning a lot about how to present an interview in a blog. Thank you so much Jason. I hope I can present you in an interview soon.

    Come join us on twitter, Darcia, if you're not already there. :)

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  4. So nice to have you, Berit! I will join you on your site very soon!

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  5. Great post. Nice idea to promote authors.

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  6. Thanks for stopping by, Reggie. I realized that I was missing the voices of other authors on my blog so I set about doing it in a (hopefully) unique way. Berit and others have been gracious enough to share insight into their talents here in the Reaches.

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  7. I love how you write philosophy into your works. Nice to meet you, Berit!
    -Ellie

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  8. Thanks for coming by, Ellie!

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