Gry Finsnes, writes historical fiction from World War II. Has lived in Norway, Sweden, India, England, Germany and now in France.
Tell us about your background. Who you are, where you are from?
I was born in Norway and went to university there but have lived in five other countries since then. I worked as a language teacher but later on had my own export firm and then became a decorative arts curator before deciding to take writing seriously.
I have published two thrillers in Swedish, but these days I write in English. My life around the world has opened my eyes to the similar problems we all face and the prejudices people often have against other nations. These days I spend a lot of time in Florida and in Scandinavia where my grandchildren are.
What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the readers will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader?
It is basically a love story between a Norwegian pianist and a German musician who meet before World War II in Vienna. The invasion of Norway by Hitler’s army evoked conflicting feelings and loyalty problems for many who had a good relationship with Germany before the war started. German was the first foreign language in schools, and many had been to German colleges. We celebrate the heroes who win a war, but it is easy to forget all those who worked behind the scenes, the women who carried out most of the work when their men were fighting. The action takes place in Vienna, Berlin and different parts of Norway.
What prompted you to be an author and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain person, artist, or genre?
I have always liked writing. My friends remind me of the “story factory” we had as children. If the stories got too daring, we dug them down in the garden to hide them from our parents! I suppose my mother was a role model in a way. I remember her writing stories in the night, but she never published anything.
If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why?
I am planning a trilogy from WWII. It may sound a little pretentious, but it has certain similarities to Ken Follett’s trilogy although he takes on a longer period and more countries. He also has a much larger gallery of characters. I have kept to the two main characters and their friends and families. I am trying to see the war from another aspect than the usual war writers who tend to describe battles and political decisions more than the feelings of the population.
Tell us about your latest work and what inspired you.
The novel is called Vanished in Berlin. I found my parents’ diary from the first days of the invasion of Oslo and suddenly understood that they were totally unprepared for the war. There was chaos in the city and nobody knew what to do. At the same time, a book on my shelf fell on the floor. It was a military account of the same period, and it struck me that I could write a story against this background.