THILDE KOLD HOLDT
Below you can explore my FAQ page to find out more about me and what I do.
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I always loved fantasy growing up. It's a genre that has helped me evolve as a human being and has given me both a lot of comfort and made me think about issues and dilemmas I wouldn't otherwise have come across. It's a genre that has always appealed to me, and a genre that I think always will.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For me, it usually starts with a question.
Now what does that mean, exactly? Let's examine...
In the case of the Hanged God trilogy, it began with the question: What are my roots? Working on that question brought me to the possibility that the answer was "Viking". That prompted the questions: So... what does it mean to be a Viking? Who were they? What did they believe in?
For the story I'm penning right now, a fantasy story about ancient Korea, it began in a similar way. It also began with a question about my roots, this time my cultural roots; Why does Korean culture feel so natural to me? Why have I had an inner attraction to Korea my entire life? In an attempt to answer that I dug as deep as I could, and while writing I'm discovering what attracts me to this place and culture, and why it feels so familiar to me.
So that's how I get inspiration for the over-arching idea. If you're asking me how I get inspiration for characters and plot, those have different answers. I shall write a more in-depth blog post about inspiration (or two, or three blog posts), and link to them here.
What do you do outside of writing?
I travel a lot and most of that travelling is research for books. Last year (2019), for example, I returned to South Korea after a while away both for research and to brush up on my Korean language skills. I learnt traditional Korean archery. I travelled around the country to visit museums and historical spots relevant to future novels. I also spent a lot of time in libraries and bookshops hunting down relevant research books, a lot of them surprisingly difficult to locate.
However, if you mean to ask what I do day to day, outside of writing, then honestly the answer is: Nothing. Writing is what I do and my whole world is geared around that.
What's your deal with Korea?
Ah... This is a long story, and I could talk about Korea for days, but... To make an incredibly long story short when I was in my early teens I discovered that there was in fact, on this earth, a place called Korea. And in this place there were wonders to be uncovered. In the year 2006, through the power of the internet, I discovered a video called Fly by the hip-hop group Epik High. It was then that I discovered the charm of both K-hiphop and K-pop.
My interest quickly evolved beyond music and within a year I was amassing all the knowledge I could get my hands on about South Korea. I taught myself how to read 한글 (the Korean alphabet) listened to the Korean radio and watched Korean TV despite hardly understanding anything. Then, in 2011, I gained the opportunity to go live in Korea for a few months to learn Korean. I packed my bags and left right away.
I've been back to Korea several times since. It's a place that always seems to welcome me when I most need some comfort. I've travelled around the country, fallen in love with the food and culture and the language, time and time again. Korea is a place that has called to me ever since I discovered that it existed and it is a place that will likely continue to call to me all throughout my life.
What kind of research did you do for the Viking trilogy?
Uff. I need to write a full blog post, or a few, on that topic. I did so much, it's actually kind of ridiculous. I still have my self-made calendar of the moon phases in the years 960 to 1040. It's around here somewhere. Obviously, I've read the sagas, as well as studied runestones. I've read law texts, taught myself the basics of Old Norse, read pretty much everything within my reach and also visited a lot of museums.
The coolest thing I did, though, is join the crew of a Viking warship.
Do you still sail with the Viking warship?
I try to be there whenever I can make time for it. That beautiful ship is something quite special to me. It feels like the ship comes alive around you, and the crew is made up of interesting people of all kinds of professions and ages. It's a very welcoming community. If I lived closer, I would spend most of my weekends at the harbour.
On that note... We're always looking for more great people to join our crew. So, if you're interested in joining a great community and sail a Viking warship, then contact the crew of the Sea Stallion (Havhingsten) at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark.
When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
After I wrote my second novel. I wrote that second novel as a test for myself. At the time I was studying Creative Writing at university. I had begun to study it because I couldn't write well, but in the process of learning it, I discovered that I enjoyed writing and wanted to give it a shot. I decided that if I could write a full film script and a full-length novel within one school year, I would allow myself to pursue the writerly path. So, I did, and here I am.
When did you begin to write?
At university. I chose to study Creative Writing because I couldn't figure out how to translate my thoughts to the page. That's how I began to write.
You attended university to study something you weren't good at?
Yes, I did. I couldn't write, and I knew it.
I grew up loving to learn. The structure of academia was a good fit for me, so I continued on to university without much hesitation. I attended Bath Spa University (England) and did both my Bachelor and Master in Creative Writing. It was during those years that I learnt to write.
My rationale for studying something I knew I wasn't skilled at was:
(1) I was there to learn, so why would I study something I already knew how to do?
(2) no matter what I ended up wanting to do later, being able to communicate in written form seemed like a neat skill to have.
It was during my university years that I truly learnt English as well.
Wait... English isn't your mother-tongue?
No, it's not. English is my third language. My mother-tongue is Danish, but on some days, it feels like it's French.
So where are you from, then?
Tough question. I am a little melting pot of different cultures.
If you're asking me where I was born, the answer is Denmark.
If you're asking me where I call home, the answer is France.
If you're asking me where I feel at home, the answer is South Korea.
Do you speak many languages?
I speak four languages fluently: English, French, Danish and Korean.
Now... I did once learn Spanish in school and Japanese in my free time, but I've lost most of those two languages.
However, since I know languages with a few different language roots, I can read more languages than I can speak, as long as I'm able to decipher the script.
Learning languages has given me such wealth in my life that I am eager to learn more.
In what language do you dream ?
Depends on the dream. Same with my thoughts. Because of how connected culture and language is, there are certain thoughts I will only have in one of these languages. Thoughts that just don't translate well, if at all, into any of the other languages. So, it depends on what I'm thinking about, or what I'm doing in the dream.
Why do you write in English?
Let's see how many I can list (in no particular order)...
(1) I learnt to write in English. I went to university in England, so my lessons were all in English. it seemed natural to continue on that path.
(2) The English Language is a big market. To me, choosing to write in another language would feel like limiting my opportunities to grow an international audience.
(3) My skills in English are superior to my skill in my other three languages. So, I would not have much to gain from writing in another language, except to be able to explore that language in writing, and play with it, which brings me to the my next point...
(4) English is a language that offers many opportunities to twist words, and play. Much more so than French or Danish or Korean. I think it has something to do with the diverse language roots of English. It's an interesting language to work in as a word-smith, particularly as someone who wants to express different cultures through my writing.
What made you decide to write about Vikings?
I was given the wise advice from a teacher to write about my roots. As someone who doesn't feel like she has any roots, that was the prompt of a lifetime. Being born in Scandinavia, I often defined myself as a Viking, albeit jokingly, and wondered if there was more to it. There was. The deeper research I did into the culture of the Vikings, the more I recognised and the more enthralled I became. That was how my first trilogy was born.
How do you feel about editing your writing?
I'm one of those writers who loves editing.
Not so much the task of it... It can most certainly be tedious to read through the same sentences and words over and over. Sometimes it's a bit mind-numbing too. That being said, I enjoy editing.
As to why I like editing....
(1) I recognise that the novel is improved by editing.
(2) The input I get from my agent and my editor and others is input that I trust. Their comments comes from a place of wanting to improve the novel and they often pick up on things that I sort of recognised weren't quite right, or, alternatively, on things I had never even considered before.
(3) I'm a perfectionist. So, to be able to go back through my writing and comb out all the "mistakes" I can find, is a very satisfying process for me. I used to struggle to let go of my work, but I've become better at accepting that I can't ever make a perfect product. I can however make the novel as good as I can with the tools I have at my disposition at the time of writing and editing. Which brings me to...
(4) The more I write and the more I edit, the better I become (ideally), so when I come back to a novel to edit, I come back with a new toolbox, ready to apply my new knowledge.
(5) When I edit, I often get excited about the novel again. While I can get frustrated by things I don't like in the novel, or "mistakes" I feel like I have made, getting to work on it again gets me excited for the potential in the story.
(6) When I finish a novel, I put it out of my mind. Meaning that I no longer think about it, and often forget almost everything about it. (On a side-note, that is also true of novels I read. As soon as I put a book down, I tend to forget everything about it) This means that when I come back to a novel for editing, I am often able to experience it almost like a reader. That makes editing a really fun process for me.
When will 'The Hanged God' Trilogy novels be released?
'Northern Wrath' is set to be released end October 2020. The second instalment in 2021 and the series will conclude with a final volume released in 2022. All three novels have been written and also sold to a publisher (Solaris), so it's only a question of getting them through the publishing machine.
Is 'Northern Wrath' your first book?
'Northern Wrath' is my debut, meaning that it's my first published novel. It's not the first I've written, though.
How many novels have you written?
Before I began to write Northern Wrath, I had completed two manuscripts. As of February 2020, I have completed five novels. I am currently working on my sixth.
Will we ever see those other novels?
The first two? No. They were novels I needed to write in order to practice and learn how to write. Without those, I wouldn't be where I am today in my writing, so there was no waste of time. I am glad that I wrote them but they are not good enough to pull out and rework. Besides, I am not out of ideas for future books. It's more exciting to start something new.
What does the future hold for you?
The same thing I hope it holds for everyone else: a meaningful life and a lot of books.
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