Inspired by Family History

Orheim 1884-1958

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 and farm

Orheim in front of the family farm in Stårheim.


glassmusic in storehouse

A set of Orheim’s glassmusic.


Ingrid as child

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 age 15

Ingrid Orheim at age 15.


Bestemor and me on beach (2)

My Bestemor (Norwegian for grandmother) Ingrid and me when I was little, near Edmonds, WA, 1969.


family farm

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.


Starheim b&w



Hoddevik b&w

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


6 thoughts on “Inspired by Family History

  1. Pingback: Links & Writerly Info | Rebecca Snow

  2. Pingback: Returning to Her Roots: Rebecca Snow Speaks in Seattle | Conundrum Press

  3. This is Eric’s father Donald Mathias was my grandfather, Eric’s great grandfather. I have been to the farm and would like to talk with you.

    • Hi there! So sorry I missed your message from two years ago! You can email me under “About” and I will get back to you. Thanks much!

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