Thursday, August 29, 2019

Linnea Hartsuyker

Linnea Hartsuyker can trace her family lineage back to the first king of Norway, and this inspired her to write her debut novel, The Half-Drowned King, the first title in her trilogy about the Vikings. Hartsuyker grew up in the woods outside Ithaca, New York, studied engineering at Cornell University, and later received an MFA in creative writing from New York University.

Her new book, the last in the trilogy, is The Golden Wolf.

Recently I asked Hartsuyker about what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been doing a lot of research reading for my next project lately lately, and in between that, some comfort reading. I recently read Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost, which is about pathological hoarding, and I found it fascinating and hard to put down. Like many mental illnesses, hoarding is an extreme version of behaviors many of us share, especially in consumerist America. Hoarders are often highly intelligent, and see more beauty and potential in objects than non-hoarding people. However, they also usually have a very low "distress tolerance" meaning that they over-estimate how much they will miss an object like a newspaper or a birthday card after they dispose of it. Treatment usually involves "reality testing" that distress, and cleaning that must be led by the hoarder himself.

I also read The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene. I had learned about relativity in high school, and quantum physics in college, but it was wonderful to revisit those concepts as explained by an incredible science writer and physicist, and then to learn about what I hadn't covered in college--the way the seeming contradictions between relativity and quantum physics may be resolved with string theory, and the implications that has for the beginnings of the universe. I read this book slowly, and with wonder and awe, and I can't recommend it high enough.

I don't read that much new-to-me fiction when I'm writing my own, but I can re-read old favorites, and some of my most comforting comfort reads are the Diana Tregarde books by Mercedes Lackey, beginning with Children of the Night. A lot of the plot points and tropes will be familiar to readers of urban fantasy, but Lackey did it first, and IMO, did it best. Her heroine, Diana Tregarde, is a Guardian, a psychic warrior and witch who fights gods, demons, and evil magical practitioners. The third book, Jinx High, also has some excellent advice on the writing craft--Diana Tregarde is a romance novelist in addition to being a psychic warrior. I've read this trilogy more times than I can count since I discovered them in my teens and it's always a pleasure.

Finally, I recently read Orlando by Virginia Woolf for my podcast That Book was BONKERS, and it was an unexpected treat. Orlando is a novel about writing, love, literature, and gender expression. The titular character begins life as a man, and then is transformed into a woman, all the while living through the centuries, watching England change, falling in and out of love, and perfecting her poetry. It has a similar stream-of-consciousness style to Mrs. Dalloway, but is far funnier.
Visit Linnea Hartsuyker's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Half-Drowned King.

--Marshal Zeringue