My favourites in literature

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Someone asked me to list down all my favourites, including authors, poets, books, poems, quotes, genre, writing place etc. So I’ll just get straight to business and do it! I hope you guys enjoy♥


  •  Jane Austen 
  • Stefan Zweig 
  • Kazuo Ishiguro 


  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Edgar Allan Poe 
  • Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe 


  • “The Royal Game” (Stefan Zweig) 
  • “Persuasion” (Jane Austen)
  • “Victoria” (Knut Hamsund)


  • “A Dream Within a Dream” (Edgar Allan Poe) 
  • “In my head” (Ernest Hemingway) 
  • “We’re Waiting for Tomorrow” (Ernest Hemingway)


  • “I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”           – F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” – Charlie Chaplin

  • “There are some games you don’t get to play unless you’re all in. And the thing that’s so interesting about being alive is that you are all in. This is gonna kill you. So I think you might as well play the most magnificent game you can while you’re waiting, because… do you have anything better to do?” – Jordan Peterson 

Genres in writing 

  • Magical realism 
  • Metafiction 
  • Dramatic and romantic fiction 


Writing spots 

  • In my office, which is in an atelier at the moment (love that combination)
  • At a train 
  • Any local library 


Music while writing 

(I don’t always do this, because it can be a distraction, but at times – it can be really helpful and fun! 

  • Soundtracks by Hans Zimmer 
  • Soundtracks by Max Richter 
  • Soundtracks by Nicole Portman


Current obsessions  

  • Ernest Hemingway’s poems!
  • Reading my own writing (I know, I should be reading a book at the moment, but sometimes I get stuck in a project) 
  • Poetry in general ( More and more, I’m starting to find the amusement in reading poems – something I couldn’t find before when I refused to read anything else but fiction. However, now I’m starting to love this literature-form, I might even make a blogpost about it soon!) 


Favourite inspiration (apart from books and poems) 

  • Philosophical discussions with a group of people 
  • Traveling to a new place 
  • A midnight-conversation with my best friend 

I guess I’ll wrap it up here! 

I hope you all liked this post –  and by the way, I am thinking of posting a review of the books I’ve read recently. Tell me which one you would like me to review, and I’ll do it♥ The three choices are:

  • “The World of Yesterday” by Stefan Zweig
  • “Steppenwolf” by Herman Hesse 
  • The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johan Wolfgang von Goethe 

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Looking forward to hearing your answers!


Aftur S. Nerdrum 




The things we stay alive for



People who show you to beautiful music and good novels 

The first cup of coffee in the morning

Smelling a new book 

An inspiring teacher 

 A game of chess and a bottle of whisky with an old friend

A newborn neoclassical-styled building in your era

 A real-life Rembrandt painting

That first glass of wine at the end of a tough working-day 

Waking up at 5am to see the sunrise 

A thought provoking quote 

 Learning how to play your favourite instrument

A poem that touches your soul 

A midnight-stroll in a narrow, cobbled street in an ancient town,            together with your love 

Laughing out loud about something you just read in a book 

Late-night conversations about everything and nothing 

A full hour of experiencing the “flow” in your creative work


Doesn’t all this sound wonderful? And guess what – Social Media is not included in any of these suggestions! 

Why reading has helped me understand this 

One of the biggest reasons why I read – is not because I want to intellectualise my mind. It’s not because I want to improve my eyesight and it’s not because my life is so boring that I feel the urge to live through somebody else’s.

It’s because by reading – I get reminded on the fact that everyone is more or less, the same. We are all aiming for the same thing. We are all struggling with the same problems. Getting recognition from the outer world is something that we all crave. We would all rather talk about our own problems than to indulge into others. We would rather do the thing that is convenient for us, than the thing that’s convenient for our neighbour. 

But we also thrive on beauty.

We become happy by discipline.  

And even happier by breaking that discipline just a little bit, every once in a while – so that we can do the things mentioned in the list above. 

Because after all – isn’t that the very essence of a beautiful life? The small things we usually take for granted? 

They are things that dont really require much out of you. In fact, some of them might even be included in your daily routine. You probably just never stopped to notice how great they actually are …? 

Wasn’t  Mr. Keating right, after all? 



There is a quote by the American novelist and poet, Jack Kerouac which goes: 

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Jack was right in so many ways. Don’t we all wish to spend our time with people who lifts us up, not down? People who crave interaction, music, poetry and the exchanging of exciting new ideas. 

But why are these people so hard to find today? 

Could it be that the youngsters today are just too fed up with all kinds of stimulation from Social Media on the internet? 

Has our generation failed to appreciate the beautiful, little things? 

The other day, I was reading in a book called; “Love Letters” – a cute little selection of romantic declarations exchanged between famous people and their lovers of the past, including Oscar Wilde, Scott Fitz Gerald, Napoléon Bonaparte and Mozart. 

When reading some of these letters, I came to the conclusion that these people were much more passionate about everything! 


“I look down the tracks and see you coming – and out of every haze and mist your darling rumpled trousers are hurrying to me – Without you, dearest dearest I couldn’t see or hear or feel or think – or live – I love you so and I’m never in all our lives going to let us be apart another night.”

– Zelda Fitzgerald to Scott Fitzgerald 


You can buy this book here 

So how do we change this? How can we make people fall in love again – with the mere beauty of our everyday existence? 


What Social Media does to your brain 

According to Billi Gordon, a Ph.D doctor and psychologist – The Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) of the brain monitors social needs by releases dopamine when we achieve social success and inspiring neurochemical deficits when we don’t. Tragically, social media is not the VTA’s friend.

The physiological cues that the VTA uses to determine social status from negative social media experiences are the same as those occurring in our ancestor’s brains when the tribe banished them. In other words; Not getting enough likes on Facebook or Instagram can be compared to the feeling that one of your ancestors got when being left alone with wild animals in the desert. 

Crazy right? 

Not really. When you think about it, the correlation makes a lot of sense. I can see people stressing about Social Media all around me. I see my friends slowly loosing grip of reality and the simple beauties of life, because of being too much on their phone. 

It is corrupting our minds everyday, making us weaker, dumber and far less excited about life. And we know it. Still, we continue feedings our brain with it, as if the thing that we’re holding in our hands (the iPhone) is the one in control. Not us.

Why do we hold on to it so much? 

The answer is quite simple. It’s because letting go of something that you were so used to pick up and play with when feeling bored or sad – is of course, extremely difficult. 

How about, every time you feel the urge to pick it up – you do one of the things listed above, instead? Or just do something productive with that free time of yours, like drawing or reading.

See what it does to you. Recognise the changes in your mood. 

Because these are the things we stay alive for; poetry, beauty, creativity, romance, love. Not Social Media. Instagram and Facebook can be great. But they should not determine wether or not your life is great today. You should be the judge of that.


Aftur S. Nerdrum 




Gardening and happiness


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero 

Opening your eyes to a new hobby can sometimes feel strange, unfamiliar and even hopeless at times. This is because we are so used to our own patterns in life; Our routines, our hobbies, our way of dealing with stress or anxiety. 

Before Yoga came into fashion – no one wanted try it out. To many, it seemed like some spiritual fixation, a ritual that only belonged to the hippie-communities. The exercise that now carries living proof to have helped many people in need (both with mental and with physical issues) was being stereotyped as the guy/girl with dreadlocks, sleeping in tents, smoking pot all day, reading horoscopes and predicting the future. Now, EVERYONE does yoga. Even the most preppy people, who live in the cities with normal jobs – do yoga. 

So why not explore gardening, for a change? Another stereotype which hasn’t yet earned it’s glory in today’s pop-culture … 

Ask yourself now:

Perhaps gardening is not only for retired people or housewives who live on farms? 

Perhaps it’s something that young people ALSO can do? 

Dear readers … if you haven’t yet read “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett – READ IT NOW. It will open your eyes to, not only a new hobby – but to a new world. 

The idea that changing your mentality can actually cure a physical illness – will no longer just be a myth to you – it will be a fact. Because this book explains in detail, how it’s possible – with gardening. 


“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”

– Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Secret Garden” 


If Yoga can do it for you – so can gardening.

You don’t even have to have a garden. All you need is a couple of plants, a windowsill/balcony, water and a little bit of sunlight!

But before you decide to say no – read the little list I’ve made of reasons to why gardening has helped me and many others through a difficult path: 

  1. It involves being outdoors. if you’re a person who has a job which requires a lot of sitting inside by your desk – gardening is a perfect way of escaping a stiff posture and soar muscles. Also, you get to clear your mind before returning to your office work! Breath in that fresh air. Feel the sun tickle your lower back while you’re down on all four – planting some seeds that will eventually, either grow to be colourful, delicious carrots or some beautiful fragrant roses that you can put in your windowsill for decorations. 
  2. Your plants will become your babies. Seeing your very own work grow into something beautiful – is just the most magical feeling ever. Your plants will be your family, and you’ll want to do everything in your power to keep them healthy and alive. 
  3. It will become a new commitment. Which is scary for some, but fun for others! I always say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who fear commitment and those who don’t. I belive that those who are open to committing to either their work, their relationship, their faith or (in this case) their garden – will always win the lottery in the end. Because theres nothing quite like working on something for a long time – seeing its ups and downs (still refusing to give up) and in the very end – you’ll have created your own eternal masterpiece. And those who fear – well, they’ll have a nice time with few hardships … but in the end, they’ll regret the risks they didn’t take. Gardening might be one of them for you ….? 
IMG_2402.jpg14494855_10153752060042063_5567215372691293176_n 3.jpg(Photo by Mona Moe Machava photography) 


Last remaining question is; Are you in or are you out? 



Aftur S. Nerdrum 

Uncovering the shielded truth: Who is the actual Jane Austen Hero?

Is it the pompous, macho-like – yet incredibly noble and kind, Mr. Darcy


Or is it the secretive, dauntless, muslin-expert, Henry Tilney


Perhaps it’s the moralising lecturer, Mr. Knightley – with his unfailing gentleness and understanding for women? 


Could it be the slightly confused – yet unquestionably affectionate Edmund Bertram? 


Oh wait! It must be the romantic, passionate, long-distance lover – Captain Frederick Wentworth! 


But did we really miss out on the adorably shy, quirky gentleman – Edward Ferrars – the one who’s intentions are truly good, but he is just too shy to express them at first ….? 


Dear reader. I know it’s tempting to say the classic line: “Are you kidding me? It’s Mr. Darcy of course!” 

Or perhaps you think you already know what my choice is, since you’ve read the name of my blog? 

I’m sorry to say, but no. It’s not Mr. Knightley, and it’s not Mr. Darcy either. In fact, none of the mentioned above is a true Jane Austen hero for me. Belive it or not. We actually missed out on one crucial male character in her books; Someone really important. Someone who actually changes someone else’s life by helping them out of a devastating heartbreak. Yes, I’m talking about you – Colonel Brandon – from “Sense and Sensibility”. 


After doing a bunch of research, asking myself the same question again and again: Who would make the best husband out of all these dashing young gentleman – I ended up in a place I never thought I’d be – Is it possible that Colonel Brandon is the most underrated Jane Austen character of all time?

 Ok. Let’s dig deep into the development of this man. Step by step. (I’m sure I will succeed in persuading you!)

  1. Meets Marianne. Falls head over heals immediately. 
  2. Tries to befriend her in the most gentlemanly way possible. 
  3. Appears as rather dull and wearisome in the beginning, making Marianne completely disinterested (judging by her blossoming youth and her wish to walk on the wild-side for a little bit before settling – this doesn’t come off as too surprising for either Colonel or the reader. After all, the age-gap isn’t precisely small).
  4. Colonel decides to take a step back when it comes to courting her – however (attraction set aside) he continues appreciating Marianne’s music and interest for poetry. 
  5. Marianne is swept off her feet by a young, extrovert bachelor called Willoughby. He is everything Colonel is not. Charming, flirtatious and good with the ladies. While Marianne and her new man engage in a small romance – no one is able to foresee Willoughby’s cruel intentions – EXCPEPT FOR Colonel. Since Colonel’s past has Willoughby in it – he knows a little something more about him than anyone else. STILL he respects Marianne’s choice, because he loves her and he wants her to be happy. Uhmm – HELLO? MAJOR GENTLEMAN ALLERT or what?
  6. As expected – Willoughby leaves Marianne to marry a woman with better prospects.
  7. Marianne falls into a depression.
  8. Marianne falls dangerously ill. 
  9. When Colonel hears of her poor condition, he is soon to be by her side. 
  10. When Marianne is close to recovery, he keeps her company everyday; reading poetry out loud, making sure she stays outside to get some sun … just … HOW CAN A MAN BE THIS PERFECT? 
  11. Oh and last but not least – Marianne understands how wrong she’s been and ends up marrying the one and only Jane Austen hero, Colonel Brandon. And of course, they live happily ever after, because how can you not be happy with a man who loves you unconditionally, helps your family out whenever it’s needed and takes care of you whenever you’re sick? 


So – do you see my point now? 

Colonel stayed with Marianne through thick and thin, in sickness and in health – even before they got married and promised each other exactly these things! If you ask me, he’s the safest choice when it comes to matrimony. Therefor, a TRUE Jane Austen hero. 

Do you agree with my choice, or did you think I would have someone else in mind? 

Either way, I would like to hear your opinion on the matter! Comment down below or give me a message, and I’ll keep it up with more of these articles:) 


Aftur S. Nerdrum 


Paintings that have inspired my writing

A book. A friend’s story of a friend. Your mother’s childhood. Your father’s employee’s childhood. A piece of music. A theatre play. A conversation happening two tables behind you at a caffe-shop. Two children playing in the park. A mother kissing her infant child. Writers can get inspired by anything, anywhere, at any time. And as much as all these things have captured my interest for another side-story in a book – narrative paintings have also done a remarkable job for me. 

My wish is to welcome you, writers, to another world of great inspirations, namely figurative painting.

So I hope you’ll enjoy my little list of paintings that have guided me throughout a very fun (although hopeless at times) writing-process! 


 1. Thomas Wilmer Dewing – “La Pêche” 

This one inspired me to write about a place in one of my character’s imagination; a utopia, where nymph-looking women run freely around, sings, dances and creates beauty wherever they go. 


2. John William Waterhouse – “The Decameron” 

This painting made me want to include a scene; explaining a very charming and seductive (but deceiving) character. 


 3. John William Waterhouse – “Lamia and the Soldier” 

“Lamia and the Soldier” is a perfect illustration of every girl’s fantasy when growing up. Meeting a handsome soldier in the middle of a wild forest is just about everything a 13-year old little girl wishes to happen to her – so I took the liberty to use this image to describe an innocent fantasy of a young character. 


 4. Odd Nerdrum – “Embrace” 

This one is also a fantasy, but a little bit more dramatic, not so sweet. Therefor, closer to reality. It’s a timeless motif of two lovers, either meeting each other after a long time apart – or holding on to each other, making sure the other one doesn’t slip away. Either way, it’s perfectly usable in literature. 


5. Odd Nerdrum – “Memorosa” 

One can make many symbols out of this. For example; the big men on the left with the weapons are the government, in power over the individual (the individual being the mother of course.) Personally, I have always been drawn to death in literature. Especially the death of a mother. So I look at this motif quite literary: A mother is being executed right in front of the innocent eyes of a child. Now, the child has to survive on it’s own in a harsh, cruel world, full of big men with weapons.  


 6. Odd Nerdrum – “Refugees at the Ocean”

When I was little, I saw this painting in one of my father’s books. Later that night, I had the most terrible nightmare. I dreamt that this ship, full of refugees, came and took me as their child-prisoner. During my imprisonment, I was beaten, tortured and treated very badly by all of them. All I wanted was to go back to my family, but I couldn’t – because they had already killed them. You can say this painting had a huge impact on me for many years. Of course, I ignored looking at it again for a very long time – until one day, when I was writing on my story.  I ended up writing about this character who had the exact same dream, although this time, it had a more symbolic meaning behind it. 


 7. Rembrandt – “Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph” 

I first saw this painting in a museum, together with my parents. For some reason, I thought the old man (Jacob) was dying – and so I instantly started envisioning my own father lying on his deathbed, and us, saying farewell to him. As you can imagine, I got really sad, because I made up this whole story in my head. Obviously, I have used it in my writing later. 

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8. Rembrandt – “Philosopher in Meditation” 

When I saw this, I felt so inspired. Not because of the meditating philosopher, but because of the way this house and it’s furnitures are built. The stairs curling up towards the ceiling, the little door behind the old man. It looks a little bit like the house of a hobbit. And so I sat down and began to describe an old man’s house. Detailed and thorough. I wanted it to sound exactly like what the viewer sees in this painting. 

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 9. Raúl Campos – “Mujer con Pájaro” 

There is a chapter in my story which is all about this young girl, trying to survive on her own, without any money or any caretakers. So she goes out to hunt for something to eat, and comes home with a dead bird in her hands, looking more dramatic than anyone, debating in her mind wether or not she just did the right thing. Obviously, this painting inspired this scene.


Be sure to give me a message if any of you guys have felt inspiration flowing by any figurative, narrative paintings. If not – what inspires you the most? Should painting, music and literature always go together in the same category? Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below! 


Aftur S. Nerdrum 





A Paradise of shared solitude


Don’t we all wish it? Deep inside … 

Build houses, plant grass, create a garden, set up a school … Construct your own policy, your own rules, schedules and divided tasks. In the end, you will have made your own state. 

The concept of an alternative society; A paradise of shared solitude has occupied my mind immensely these days. And can you blame me? Watching the outer world slowly going to ashes, with all the identity-politics, terror-attacks and failing criminal court cases convicting innocent people on a daily basis – it is only natural for any human being to choose to take a step back from the society. 

After all – people do not come to this earth just to acknowledge and take pleasure in what already exists. They come so that they can bring in new things, new inventions, communities and countries. As Anne of Green Gables says in one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books:

“I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”

Why settle for what already is, when you can recreate something magnificent, that most likely has existed before you? 

A Russian science-fiction author once said: 


I dont’ agree with Yevegenzy Zamyatin on this one. Happiness is freedom. Living in our individual society (also called “The Nerdrum School”) is isolating, but at the same time, so liberating: 

You can talk about whatever you want and expect to get an open-minded, non-aggressive  response back.

You can do whatever you want and commit each day, every hour, every minute to this specific craft. 

There isn’t just one religion, one political view or one culture here. There are several of them, and each day, you’ll learn something new and thought-provoking. 

Everyone here has an historical perspective on things; meaning, they will always look back and compare past incidents with present ones. With this mindset, the world becomes bigger, options wider, and you see everything with new eyes. 

Now, I’m not just talking about the greatness of the Nerdrum School in this article. I am talking about the greatness of a self-made society – which is a place made by using memory. Not the memory of the past, but the memory of a lifetime that you’ve never really experienced before. A word for this feeling is hiraeth – which means, a longing for a home you can’t return to, or one that was never yours. 

I think my father built this alternative world, because he had an inner longing for a place that looks exactly like the farm we have now. And it has turned out to be, not only a paradise for him, but a paradise for everyone else who thinks like him. This is what I mean by a shared solitude. It’s a place that will attract the right kind of people; The lonely ones, those who can never feel a sense of belonging in the outer world.

So no. Going out into the society will not give you freedom. Especially not, if you’re a  freethinker, like us. However, living in your own society will. And it’s not so hard. All you have to do is get some people onboard with your plan, and then start from there. It has worked in the past. It can work now. 

Our farm is a living proof of that. 



Aftur S. Nerdrum 



The book that made me want to become a writer


It all started around 12pm, on a Saturday, the 24th of December, 2011. 

My twelve-year old self was running around our (then) house in Paris, wearing an oversized, puff-sleved, black dress of linen – trying to smile and make everyone around me happy, as a failed attempt to bring back the lost joy in our faces. 

I acted like I was content that day, but actually, I had a major headache and my mind was playing around with a toxic thought; the notion that we would stay in France forever, and never come back to our real home. And what would happen to our dear father? Was our lives built up to a coming catastrophe? 

It was in the middle of all the trials, and we were spending our Christmas away from Norway, for the very first time. 

As we were unwrapping presents, I realised that all of our faces were covered with masks. Fake smiles and corny laughter. Encouraging words that didn’t really mean anything. All of us were thinking about one thing and one thing only; our beloved father, who would soon, probably, most likely be taken away from us. 

But there wasn’t anything left for us to do, than to put on that mask. Time had run before us. The wind was changing. A new year was approaching. Presumably it was the year in which our lives would change forever.  

So I continued smiling. I laughed. I joked around. I comforted myself with the fact that we were together in our common fear. See, I was not the only one. Helpless like a twelve year old. That was the state of mind that we were all in that day. And yet, small sensations never felt so great. The touch of my parents hand on my head, the walk around our house and a garden so big you could get lost among the trees and the bushes. I’d listen carefully to every little word my father told me, because I knew that today, tomorrow, or the day after could be the last time I heard him speak for a very long time.

And before I knew it – it was lying on my lap, wrapped in brown paper, covered with a red ribbon. The book that would change my life forever. The book that seemed doll and boring at first glance, but would take my breath away in a couple of months later. The present was from my mother and the cover read: “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende. 

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“I read it when I was about your age.” my mother said. “Now it’s your turn.” 

I eyeballed the cover for a long time, then flipped it to the other side and read the plot-summary: 

Eva Luna is the story of the main character, Eva Luna and the people and events in her life that shape her. Born to a servant in a South American country, Eva lives a varied life, sometimes exciting, sometimes, frightening, however she never lets adversity keep her down. Eva strives to persevere, and in the end, finds the happiness that eludes so many of her acquaintances through the years.

After I had finished reading it out loud for my family, I placed the book gently on the table and thought to myself: I haven’t read in so long. I’ll probably never read this one. How can one read anyway, when there are so many things that are completely uncontrollable in ones life?

Well, it turned out I was wrong. Two months later, I picked it up and started reading the first page. I never put it down again.

All of a sudden, I was able to let go of the painful presence. I could take part in someone else’s life now. I could engage in someone else’s sorrows, heartbreaks, family-problems and poverty. The world seemed bigger with all these new, exciting characters in my life. Crying didn’t seem so pathetic anymore, because the next time I teared up, I shared the moment with her; Eva Luna. A character in a book had become my dearest friend, and I was determent to keep her. 

The day I finished reading the book, I couldn’t wait to write my own. A million different ideas were boiling in my head. Characters were forming everyday. I couldn’t wait another second. I had to write it all down. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is – if you read something truly mind-blowing, yet at the same time, there is an inner voice in your head saying: I could do the same! – then listen to this voice! Go ahead and do it. BUT it is hard. I can guarantee you that. You’ll start writing a draft of a story. You’ll think it’s amazing and you’ll consider it a finished project. Then, a couple of weeks later when you return to it – your jaw will drop over how bad it is. TRUST ME. It happens to everyone. Remember, every professional was once an amateur. The only thing you need to do is to just sit down and do it. 

First, organise everything. Then you can go with the flow.

Create a plot.

Invent characters that will fit into this plot.

Make your characters come alive. 

Include a hero and a villain. 

Include power-players and mentors. 

Choose a plot-structure. Don’t be experimental about this. YOU NEED A PLOT STRUCTURE if you want anyone to want to read it. 

The hero should have a character-developement.

There should be a question asked in the beginning, and an answer for this question at the very end. ALWAYS. 

And now all you have to do is write. It’s that simple. Yet at the same time, that hard. 

“Eva Luna” may not be the book that inspired you/will inspire you to start. But I hope this article will. 

I discovered my writing at the most unexpected time and I hope you will too. Remember, one can always escape the horridness of ones reality by diving into someone else’s. Either a character in a book, or ones own. 


Aftur S. Nerdrum