My great-grandfather Matias Orheim, 1884-1958, first inspired my novel. He received the King of Norway’s Medal of Merit in Gold in 1953 for his life’s work as a blind musician, composer, minister, and writer.
Orheim in front of the family farm in Stårheim.
A set of Orheim’s glassmusic.
The protagonist of Glassmusic is based loosely on my grandmother, Ingrid, Orheim’s youngest daughter. She had perfect pitch and helped Papa with his music. In the novel, she witnesses a traumatic event and must navigate family tensions and secrets.
Ingrid Orheim at age 15.
My Bestemor (Norwegian for grandmother) Ingrid and me when I was little, near Edmonds, WA, 1969.
The Orheim farm in Stårheim. I fictionalized the village to Fårheim and changed family names as well. In the novel, Oskar and Lovisa Solheim are very fictionalized versions of Matias and Maria Orheim. I also reduced the number of Ingrid’s siblings, keeping some first names the same and changing others. My blog (see link below) goes more in-depth about how my family history, dynamics, and themes along with how the incredible Norwegian landscape inspired the novel.
My novel doesn’t quite make it to Hoddevik, where my mother was born. I am hoping to write a second novel set in a village inspired by my maternal grandfather’s home. I think it is the most beautiful place on earth.
The following link is a written (and extended) version of my book talk at the Nordic Heritage Museum. The presentation focuses primarily on my family history and how it inspired my novel:
Nordic Presentation blog