Author Interview: Nore Hoogstad

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Nore Hoogstad, author of Gunfire Lullabies took some time out to have a chat with Beauty and Lace.

Get to know the author behind the book in this insightful interview:

Thank you Nore for this opportunity to have a chat with you.

I’m truly grateful for the opportunity.

Some of our Beauty and Lace Book Club members are currently reading and reviewing your debut novel, Gunfire Lullabies. Our members always like to know a little bit more about the authors whose books they are reading, so can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve done many things in my life. I was quite lost in terms of what to do when I was younger, and tried many things, from dancing to studying art and sales (which I was lousy at).

Then I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree, and after being a diplomat for nearly 10 years – which included secondments to the UN and the office of an opposition foreign affairs spokesperson, press secretary and political advisory work – I worked in communications and strategic planning.

Gradually I was drawn into the holistic health sphere where I gained qualifications and currently work in my own business. I will always write fiction, however, as I find it satisfying in a way nothing else is.

I’ve also raised two children I had relatively young who are all grown up now, and have three step children with the same number of step grandchildren. How time flies!

I understand you spent some time as a diplomat in both Indonesia and Timor Leste (East Timor). Were your experiences there the inspiration for the novel?

Yes, I was a diplomat for over 9 years and was posted to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1997. Initially I covered domestic politics, including the downfall of President Suharto after 34 years in power, which was like a revolution and incredible to observe close up as I knew many of the key players.

With that the troubled issue of East Timor opened up, and I focused on covering it as the UN was invited in to run an independence ballot. This was a turbulent and historic time as some parties didn’t want to the vote to go ahead. This became the inspiration and context for Gunfire Lullabies. While my novel is a fictional account that includes fictional characters, it’s historically accurate.

How long did it take you to write Gunfire Lullabies?

I began writing this story in 2006, but I wrote three different versions of it, or in other words, three distinctive books. This was the one I settled on.

There have been many delays along the way, including publisher interest and rewrites, then a two-year delay with a publisher I had a contract with. But I dug in, and finally, it’s here. I believe creating all those versions and rewrites made me a better story teller.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes, I have. I wrote and illustrated a few books as a child and entered them into competitions, winning some prizes. At university, where I studied Asian Studies and literature, I wanted to be a writer, but after attempting to write a couple of novels, I felt I didn’t have a worthy story.

Then I became a diplomat in order to travel and have more experiences as well as an interesting job and regular pay. When I applied for a posting to Indonesia and other places, my wish was to be posted somewhere where history would happen so I would have something to write about. This is what happened and I feel forever thankful.

Authors are often split into two camps, plotters and pantsers, which category do you fall into?

I’m definitely a plotter in that I need to know the ending and roughly how I’m going to get there. But the thought of plotting every chapter makes me shudder as I know this would stifle my creativity.

To write the last quarter of Gunfire Lullabies, I almost wrote stream of consciousness as I’d begun overworking things. While that draft needed a lot of work, this process helped me get to the ending, which I then refined.

What’s your preference, tea coffee or wine?

While I love the smell and taste of coffee, it gives me the jitters, so I’m a tea person. I love chai and herb teas. I do enjoy a bit of wine on the weekend or at celebrations, with sparkling being my favourite.

Having successfully published your first book is there any advice you would give to an aspiring author?

First, persist. I can’t stress how important that is for writers (or, I imagine, any other creative). Two, always be open to learning from others, including critics you pay, but stay true to your vision. If you try to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one, especially yourself.

Remember, it’s all subjective and the perfect novel doesn’t exist. Three, remind yourself who you’re doing this for – yourself. If you’re doing this for anyone else or for any other reason, you could find your determination easily waning. Four, there’s nothing wrong with self publishing. Just be as professional as you can, and can afford to be.

Are you working on another book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes I am. I’m working on a novel set in WW2 Holland that’s an allegory for what’s been happening for years in the West with the erosion of freedoms in the name of terrorism, security and the pandemic.

My parents grew up in occupied Holland, so this side of the story has personal meaning for me. I also have plans to write a non-fiction book about health, or do another Masters degree – I haven’t decided yet.

Gunfire Lullabies was released on 30 August. Where can our readers order the book?

Gunfire Lullabies is available at all bookstores in hard copy and as an eBook. The release date, 30 August, was the anniversary of the UN independence ballot in East Timor, which features in the story. To compare prices, you can find the links on my website.

Where can our readers follow you?

I’m on twitter and Instagram and on Linked In as Nore Hoogstad. I also blog about writing and other topics on my website where you can subscribe.

Thank you once again for taking the time to chat with us.

Thank you again for having me!

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