Q & A with Alex Dahl ~ Author of The Boy at the Door ~ Publication Day 6/18/18 @alexdahlauthor @HoZ_books

Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Born in Oslo, she currently lives in London. The Boy At The Door is her first novel.

  • What are your favorite things about living in London and Sandefjord?

  • I love the nearness to the sea in Sandefjord. There are wonderful places to explore nearby, such as Ula, a beautiful fishing village with one of Norway’s best beaches. There is also Stavern, a cute town with lots of galleries and cafés, and also a great beach. Sandefjord has an international airport with flights to London, which makes it very easy to come and go. Sandefjord also has great independent shops and coffee shops. I grew up in Oslo, but after spending a couple of years in Sandefjord, I found I missed the capital much less than I thought I would. I love the diversity and buzziness of London. I also love the foodie scene and the markets. I am particularly attached to my local area, Wimbledon, as I find it offers the best of all worlds- a country-like feel, as well as being within striking distance of one of the world’s most exciting cities.

  • Did you love to read as a child? What were some of your favorite books growing up that inspired you as a reader and writer?

  • I was a very big reader as a child and teenager, something I believe was hugely influential in terms of becoming a writer. My grandmother wrote children’s books, my father was a writer, too, and my mother is extremely well read, so I was always surrounded by books and words. As a child, I loved Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and my grandmother’s books- she taught me so much about storytelling. I began reading more seriously in my early teens, and at that time I was particularly drawn to the Brontë sisters, Wilkie Collins, Russian classics, Amy Bloom, Anne Rice, William Boyd and Kazuo Ishiguro. But my favorite book as a teen was Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

  • Can you describe the most influential educator you had in your life…Someone who encouraged you to pursue your dreams?

  • I was a peculiar kid, and didn’t feel that liked by many of my early teachers. I was a dreamer and was probably quite spaced-out in class. In secondary school, I had two wonderful English teachers, Mrs. Bergan and Mrs. Vanberg, who both encouraged my love for writing. I remember Mrs. Vanberg once read out a creative writing piece I’d written to the class and saying ‘Maybe we have a novelist-in-the-making here’ and feeling like I might pass out…But overall, I didn’t feel much encouragement for creativity or writing in the educational system- I felt the expectation to conform.

  • If we were to interview your mother or father, what might she say to us if we asked her what you were like as a child?

  • My mother would definitely say I was quite wild. I was extremely active, and liked being outdoors. I skied most days after school and loved playing in the trees with the neighborhood kids. I was a real tomboy and my mother would probably say I didn’t realize I was a girl until I was about fourteen… I was also bookish and very close to my mother. I dreamed of traveling and the big world out there- I kept begging my mother to find a job abroad so I could experience living in different places.

  • Preferences…cold beer, aged wine- spicy or mild- dark chocolate or milk chocolate, beachside or country living, ice cream sundae or cone?

  • Great question! I love wine; rosé in the summer, rich reds in the winter, and champagne year-round! I also love spicy food. I am one of those people who pours hot sauce on absolutely everything. I like it so hot it properly burns my mouth. Definitely dark chocolate. I want everything, so I’m going to say country living but very close to the beach, and mountains are a must. This is why I love the Côte d’Azur- it has everything. Ice cream cone, and preferably watermelon sorbet.

  • Where do you get the inspiration for the characters in your stories? Are any of the characters based on real people in your life?

  • The characters generally kind of just come to me. I ‘observe’ them in my mind, a bit like watching a movie in my head, and feel them out. Sometimes, I do characterization exercises to get to know them better. Very rarely do I base any character traits on real people in my life, but I may occasionally use something someone has said. My main character in The Boy at the Door, Cecilia, is most certainly made up, but she has some charming, and less-charming personality traits that I may have observed over the years in my extended social circle.

  • What is your biggest pet peeve…something that annoys you that not everyone may know about you.

  • I hate being stuck in traffic. It makes me irrationally upset. I also very much dislike hand-cream! I am quite hypersensitive and find the sensation on my hands unbearable. Weird, I know.

  • Where is the most unique or ideal place that you have traveled or vacationed?

  • I absolutely adore the Isles of Scilly for their stunning natural beauty. I spent all my childhood summers there and want to go back soon with my own children. Costa Careyes in Mexico was incredibly beautiful, I’d like to go back. But my overall favorite destination is France- I’ll go anywhere, really, as long as it’s France.

  • Describe a secret talent, one that some people may not know you have!

  • I am quite hard to beat on world capitals, I’ve heard. Good dinner party trick.

  • Can you give your fans a little hint about what you are working on now and what we can expect from you in the future?

  • I am currently finishing up the first draft of my next novel. It is a psychological suspense novel centering around a mother who becomes obsessed with the little girl who received her dead daughter’s heart… It is a grief novel with the traction and themes of a psychological thriller. In the future, I want to continue writing suspenseful novels set in exotic locations. I like to work with multiple storylines and voices, and want to address important issues through my work, such as gender inequality, discrimination, and the many forms of manipulation and domestic abuse.

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