Category: Ukategorisert (page 1 of 2)

Merry Christmas!

I received two new books on writing, a new novel by Jo Nesbø and an iTunes giftcard so I can buy more books, amongst other things.


What did you get, what was/is your Christmas like? 🙂

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Review: Moleskine Volant

For the past months, I’ve been writing on iPad for journalistic assignments, or on free journals from my university in my spare time.

But a couple of days ago, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring extra journals with me home, and that, thusly, I needed new ones.

After mulling for a bit too long in the store, I ended up buying a set of two Moleskine Volants, because it seemed like a good compromise between quality, number of pages and price.


If you don’t care about quality at all, then these are not for you. They are, frankly, way to expensive for that. However, if you want a journal that you can store in your backpack (large) or pocket (small) without worrying about wrecking them, these are for you.

They also come with enough pages (96, large and 82, small), so you won’t run out of pages in the foreseeable future.

As if that wasn’t enough, the first page has a sentence: “In case of loss, please return to:”, underneath which you can fill out your address and a specified amount as a reward. Neat!

Last but not least, the small version comes with detachable pages, and the large version comes with the last sixteen pages detachable. In case you should need it 🙂

One thing I found annoying was that the ridge of the journal was too stiff, making the first page hard to write on, but other than that, I totally love these journals.

Highly recommended!

On the Nativity Story

I remember watching The Nativity Story at a cinema in Pittsburgh with my first and only girlfriend in 2006. It is the best film adaptation of the nativity gospels, if you ask me.

What is it that makes those gospels so great, such that they are embraced almost universally, regardless of background and religion?

I think the primary reason is that they are, at their core, good stories. Imagine Joseph. I believe he must have been scared to his core, scared to raise a child that he knew nothing about.

Imagine Mary. I think she must have been scared to her core, scared to commit to the stranger that had been appointed to her.


I think they found each other through the fear, while they both, each in their own way, showed immense strength and courage.

Joseph and Mary are idols, not just for marriage, but for how people should behave, full stop.

Imagine the magi. The travelled across half of the known world for something that they believed in. At the same time, they managed to fool the bad guy of the story.

Imagine Herod. A man so consumed by hatred, so power-hungry that he was indirectly responsible for killing all of the firstborn in a city the size of half of Oslo. I think you’d have trouble coming up with a better baddie if you tried.

You can say many things about the Bible. But the nativity gospels are good stories, about humans facing inhuman situations, humans standing up for what they believed in and inhuman humans of epic proportions. Everything sat against an exotic backdrop. That’s the kind of stuff good stories are made of!

Interestingly, both Matthew and Luke’s stories about the nativity are laughably short. Many scholars and theologians agree that the gospels were written down a good few years after Matthew and Luke had passed, and in light of this it could seem as though many years have been spent trying to peel away everything superfluous in the original stories, so that what was actually recorded was the essence of the essence.

We aren’t even privy to the details surrounding Mary and Joseph’s marriage – all we know about this is based on historical science.

This is amazing storytelling, even if taken to its extreme. If the stories were to have been written as a novel today, they would still be great stories, but shallow to the point of naivete.

Perhaps that says more about current storytelling traditions than it does about the nativity gospels.

After all, why spend six hundred pages trying to say something that could be said in fifty?

Agatha Christie

Last night I started watching a documentary about Agatha Christie’s life and work for the third or fourth time. She’s influenced me greatly in the way I think about plotting and writing in general.

I grew up watching David Suchet play Poirot on TV, and eventually also started reading the books. Agatha’s stories have sold so many copies that the only literary work to surpass them is the Bible. When asked about her success, John Curran told David Suchet that he believes that it is so enduringly popular because she wrote such simple plots. “Doesn’t matter if you have no education or whether you’re a nuclear scientist, you can understand where she’s coming from”.

Agatha Christie as a child.

Agatha Christie as a child.

Add to that multiple layers of psychological complexity in her characters, and you can begin to understand why people love her work so much. She’s obviously one of my literary idols, and she’s taught me to focus on my plotting and to tighten it as much as possible.

Agatha also has an edge in a lot of her novels. Many are placed in exotic locales, something which inspires me a lot, because I love to travel and I like love literature as a form of escapism. My current novel is partially set in Moscow, bringing an international flavor to the plot which is mostly set in Trondheim.

Kon Tiki

I’ve experienced a once in a lifetime experience! Trondheim Symphony Orchestra arranged a viewing of the Norwegian movie Kon Tiki, while playing the soundtrack.

The film is about Norwegian explorer, ethnographer, author and artist Thor Heyerdahls expedition across the Pacific Ocean on the raft Kon Tiki.

Thor Heyerdahl, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Thor Heyerdahl, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The voyage took him and five others from Calao in Peru to Raroia in French Polynesia, and Thor Heyerdahl proved something in which noone believed: that ancient man saw oceans as pathways, not barriers.

He’s one of my idols, precisely because he dared when nobody else believed, and because he was multi talented and one of the few Norwegians ever to have shaped world history. Amongst a people counting (at the time) barely four million, that’s not a small feat! The movie’s music is awe inspiring, and composed by the swede Johan Söderqvist. It can’t really be described, it has to be experienced. Suffice it to say that the main theme is played on a conch shell.

On another note, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign movie the year of its release. If you’ve yet to see it, you have something really great to look forward to!

At one stage in my life, I dreamt of being Thor Heyerdahl. Nowadays I’m happy if I manage to become a shred of the man he was.

He’s one of the reasons I’m alive, because he taught me how to dream. And the movie is a reminder of just that: without dreams, you are nothing.

About That Which Doesn’t Kill Us (The Girl in the Spider’s Web)

I’m currently reading David Lagercrantz‘ highly anticipated and heavily debated book. So far, I’m really enjoying it, as the suspense is just beginning to build, and he’s done a very good job of emulating Stieg‘s writing (which, in any other case would have been a bad thing – Stieg was not a literary writer, so much as a journalist telling gripping stories with amazing characters.)

As an author and fan of Stieg, I’m against this book. But as a fan of his amazing characters, I’m thrilled. As such, I’m reading with anticipation and mixed feelings. Unfortunately, I fear that Stieg’s father and brother ended up pressuring Eva into never wanting to release and/or find someone to finish Stieg’s unfinished manuscript, when they threatened to kick her from her apartment unless she handed over Stieg’s laptop.

For those not in the know, there was a fourth manuscript, it was unfinished, and I think Stieg would have wanted Eva (or someone of her choosing) to finish it.

My latest book is inspired by Stieg’s books, and I hope that people who liked them will also like my book. I wish that Stieg could still be alive to witness how beloved his characters and stories have become.

Isaac Cathedral

Today I visited Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg and then went to take a sun bath in a park close to my hotel. Here are some pictures:

Mural of Jesus' ressurection.

Mural of Jesus’ ressurection.

Mural of Jesus' burial.

Mural of Jesus’ buriial.

Mural in St. Isaac's cathedral.

Mural in St. Isaac’s cathedral.

Mural of Peter in St. Isaac's cathedral.

Mural of Peter in St. Isaac’s cathedral.

Needless to say, I loved it! 🙂


Why are you serving Italian food in Russia, Jamie Oliver?

Recently, I’ve started watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonightand I’d reccommend that you do as well. He’s smart, talks about interesting topics and is also funny at the same time!

The city of Dreams

Currently sitting on a Luxury bus from Tallinn to St. Petersburg.

The Summer School has been an absolute blast, and I’m absolutely convinced that I’ll be returning next year.

If you think that the Summer School is all about learning, I can reveal that the last night included a Choir performance (this part was optional) that saw me on the Estonian national news, followed by five or seven hours of non-stop partying almost until dawn.

Trinity Cathdral, St. Petersburg

The Trinity Cathedral in St. Petersburg

Still, I’m really looking forward to St. Petersburg. I suspect my Russian will increase by 100% there, because almost no one speaks English. We’ll be visiting a bunch of museums, cafés and clubs, and I’m really excited to meet more of the Russian, which I’ve come to love, up close.

Увидимся в Петрие (see you in Petri)!

– Mats

More on Tallinn Summer School

So yesterday I got tired of the internet not working on my floor, and I investigated the issue using the Russian I knew and had learned here in Tallinn.

I also learned a new word from the receptionist: уже. It means “yet”, and I used it to ask why the internet wasn’t working yet (after she’d restarted the routers), as in: Вопрос: почему интернет уже не работа? The result was a kind of long winded answer that I didn’t fully comprehend, except for the part about tomorrow. The hotel I’m staying at (Center Hotel Tallinn) is a technological marvel – you should absolutely stay there if you care about an internet connection that works half the time!

Anyway, I digress.

When I came to this city, what I knew of Russian was mostly word soup; my grammar was non-existant. Before the end of my second week, I’m able to form simple sentences with confidence and make myself understood. And along the way I’ve had great experiences and made new friends from around the globe. Here are a few images:

Tallin Summer School - collage

A small glimpse into the things I’ve seen and done at Tallin Summer School 2015.

All in all, if you were to ask me; “Should I go to Tallinn Summer School”, my answer would most definitely be “yes!”

To piss when writing: Learning Russian

So yesterday I started learning Russian here in Tallinn, after taking a test that even a guy from Canada who ended up in advanced class classified as hard. I was eventually placed in the intermediary class.

Matriuska dolls!

Matriuska dolls!

The teacher was speaking Russian all the time, and my friend Massa from Japan who speaks American English fluently with no accent said, half an hour into the first lesson, that his head felt like it was about to explode.

Today I switched to the beginner class, and it feels more comfortable, because I didn’t know any grammar. In a language where even numbers are inflected (I shit you not) that’s kind of important. Interestingly though, stress might be even more important!

The verb писать means “he is writing” if you put the stress on the first syllable, “he is pissing” when putting stress on the last one. In addition, Russian is a highly inflected language, meaning that different conjugations result in different meanings.  Я писаю, the standard conjugation, means “I am pissing”; to get “I am writing”, you need to use “я пишу”.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the days ahead with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation…

Mats out.

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