Gry Finsnes

Gry Finsnes, Norwegian, has lived in Sweden, India, England, Germany and France. After university studies in Oslo in French and English literature, she started her career as a teacher, but had to give it up as she moved out of the country. She has published two thrillers in Swedish but has recently written in English.



Joining LitPick for an Extra Credit Interview today is Gry Finsnes. She has traveled all over the world and has written books in Swedish and English. Her newest book, Stones Don’t Speak, has received a Five Star Review from one of LitPick’s student book reviewers. Be sure to check out the animated review.

***Do you have a solid outline before writing, or do you usually get ideas as you go along?

When beginning a new novel, I always works out an outline since I like a proper storyline that leads somewhere. But I have to admit that I change the story and the development of the different characters as I go. Some personalities are more interesting than others and tend to take over. 

***Has someone you’ve known ever appeared as a character in a book (consciously or subconsciously)?

Consciously, I have never done that. However, I know I sometimes borrow traits from friends and family: little quirks, conversations, looks. It helps to make the story more realistic and lifelike. 

***What do you do when you get writer's block?

I cannot really say that I get writer’s block. When it is hard to go on, I read the whole book from the start, and it usually makes me see how it has to continue. If the story dries up, I take a longer break and do some research. So far it has done the trick.

***If you could live in a book's world, which would you choose?

Maybe Narnia.

***What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?

The Millennium trilogy by Stig Larsson.

***If you could have lunch with one other author (dead or alive!), who would it be?

Definitely William Shakespeare, my favorite author! Not sure I would understand what he said, though, since the language has changed considerably since then. But wouldn’t it be fantastic to be able to ask him questions like: did you write all of the plays yourself? Were you influenced by others, like Marlow? 

***Wild Card Question: What got you interested in writing historical fiction?

I read my mother’s diaries after she died and began to understand what the Second World War had been like for her. The research I did lead me to begin a novel about that time. But the book only contains snippets of information from her diary. The story about Ellen and Friedrich is pure fiction, although there were many couples that faced similar difficulties during the war. 


Gry, thank you very much for joining us. We love the story of how your mother’s diaries inspired you to write about historical events. What a special treasure you have to cherish. 




Today LitPick welcomes Gry Finsnes for Six Minutes with an Author! Gry is the author of Vanished in Berlin and comes to us today from Sweden or Norway where she spends her summers. For over two years, Gry worked in Buckingham Palace!

How did you get started writing?

I have always liked writing, at first only in my native Norwegian. But ten years ago when I had more time, I started to write novels. First two thrillers. Then I decided that English was an easier language for me since I have lived outside Scandinavia for many years. My native language was “contaminated” if you like. And I left the thrillers: Too much blood, not really my thing. 

Who influenced you?

My mother wrote at night when nobody watched. I suppose I tried to imitate her as a child and started a “novel factory” with a friend. We didn’t have much success, though, but a lot of fun. Since then I have read such a lot of books that I cannot really point to any one author in particular as having influenced me. Basically I admire all authors who write well, who have a fluent language.

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

My favorite kind of book is one that I can learn something new from as well as being entertained. That is why I try to do just that in my books. Vanished In Berlin has an exciting storyline (I hope) but tells the story of the war from a different angle than most. I am trying to describe how confused ordinary people were when they woke up one day to find that their country had been taken overnight without any declaration of war. The heroes have been described often enough.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

My advice for someone who wants to be an author is: Don’t give up. Try again and again, let the manuscript lie for a while and then go back to it. You will see it clearer and be able to learn from your mistakes and develop your skills. Don’t expect anyone to be impressed at first. The main thing is that you yourself like what you are doing.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I can write anywhere. I bring my laptop along when I travel and write on my story when I have a few hours. It is easiest in the morning. If I start early, before anyone wakes up in the house, I can get some work done without interrupting the family’s plans for the day.

What else would you like to tell us?

I have had problems with finding the right language to write in, since I grew up in Norway and married in Sweden. I tried to write Swedish for a while, but Norwegian and Swedish are too similar and I mixed them up. Fortunately it seems that my English is good enough. Maybe it is simple, but at least people understand what I am trying to say. I studied English and French at university and have lived 16 years in English speaking countries, mainly India and England.  

I have been published by Ravenswood under their White Stag label (historical novels). My novel: Vanished in Berlin, came on February 2, 2015 as ebook and paperback. It can be bought on and everywhere. 

I have written another novel, this time from India in the 1980s. It is called Goodbye Bombay. I hope it will be published later this year.

Gry, thank you for joining us for six minutes! We’re looking forward to the release of Goodbye Bombay!