Luise Noring has lived all over the world and has worked internationally with the management and financing of cities. She has recently published on her fiction debut novel, which is written in English. In this connection, Bogmarkedet has invited Luise Noring to a Q&A.
– Why is the book written in English when it could be in Danish?
I have lived and worked abroad for 15 years, so writing in English came naturally to me. At the same time, the book is about how the internet offers us an alternative universe and reality. In the book, we congregate in the real world with our virtual community, which eventually leads to the disappearance of national borders. As these are global issues, I believe the book can just as well have readers outside Denmark. That is why I also chose an international publisher and hope to capture a much larger audience that way.
But there is also another reason why I have written it in English, because I am dyslexic in Danish, which I am not in other languages such as English, German, Spanish and French.
– How has the process been in relation to getting published with an international publishing house as a Dane?
Getting a publisher was surprisingly easy. While writing the book, I had identified my six preferred publishers and sent my manuscript to them. Olympia Publishers responded relatively quickly that they were interested in publishing my book. The process afterwards with editing, setting up and choosing the cover has been slower than I had expected. But now I have found a good cadence with my publisher, where I call if something is important or urgent. They are incredibly sweet and friendly.
Right now I’m looking for a literary agent in London or New York for my book “Hidden,” which is a standalone novel about an imminent civil war in the US. Writing is a very lonely process, and along the way I have to make choices about people and narratives. It could be really good to have an agent to discuss these things with. In addition, I need a person who has expertise within the industry and knows where and how books are sold. I’m pretty clueless in that area.
– How has living for 15 years in different countries played into the creative process?
I lived in England, Argentina and the USA, amongst others. This has granted me a deep knowledge of other cultures. I have typically traveled alone without other Danes in order to force myself to learn the language, way of life and culture of the people. I have done this because I love emerging myself in a totally different place.
I’m not very good at learning languages on a school bench, but I’m really good at picking up the language quickly when I can connect it to people, feelings and situations.
Precisely my curiosity about other people, cultures and the language, I have used in the writing process. In the book, we follow three main characters and the people they meet on their way. They navigate through a world ravaged by war and destruction. They are looking for a peaceful place to settle. Their journey takes them from Germany to England and on to Argentina and the United States. It has really benefited me that I have lived in those countries, so that I can write with vivid details and credibility.
– What has been the driving force in relation to telling the story?
After many years of researching, I have gained a deep insight into societies, including how they are governed and financed. During my long-standing research career, I have thought a lot about the way the world is developing. The book is, among other things, about how societies and nation states are broken down by global presures, such as new global internet communities and parallel societies, the global flow of money, mass migration, climate change and many other global tendencies that are in every way beyond the political control of nation states.
I have long believed that nation states will probably not survive in the face of these pervasive global trends. A peaceful transition away from the nation state could, for example, be the ‘United States of Europe’, but historically speaking we are not very good at doing anything peacefully, not at nation state or global level. On the contrary!
I think, we possess the intellectual ability to imagine other alternatives to chaos and war, but then there is still something that makes individual societies and the global community resort to violence when confronted with conflict. And violence breeds violence. If the nation state falls, so does democracy, and what comes next? This is what I explore with the book.
Despair and hope go hand-in-hand, as do breakdown and transformation. The book follows people in their journey through war and chaos, collapse and transformation, but also in hope for the future. They say love is the greatest human power, and that also fills the book. But I think we can say with great probability that the greatest human power is survival.
– The Internet and algorithms are a significant part of the novel. Why is it important that this technological theme is part of the book?
The problem is that the Internet was something we created with the promise of bringing us together and out of our loneliness. Instead, we disappear into this imaginary world where individuals are a two-dimensional mirror image of themselves, socially isolating us even further than we were before from the people around us.
At the same time, there are fewer and fewer who trust the politicians. When we don’t feel we can trust our politicians, we look for the ‘truth’ on the internet and are drawn to virtual communities and parallel societies that share our ideological, political and religious views. For example, how many of us know the truth behind the war in Ukraine? Or is Ukraine a pawn in a global political power game? Can’t Denmark also become such a piece then? All of a sudden, the real world becomes where the lies are. Where we can’t trust anyone, and perhaps least of all the politicians. This situation leads people to seek other likeminded communities on the internet, where they can ventilate their thoughts.
In the book, conflicts on the internet spill over and into the real world, all the while, the algorithms take control. As with the internet, the algorithms are a technology that we ourselves created to help us access information. We stuff information into the algorithms, which grow and grow until they are so large and complex that no human can find their way around them or control them. Thus, the algorithms are brought to life by us, after which they control our lives. It is in that universe that the book takes place. It is also about the freedom to own one’s own data and the privacy of our personal life, which I think is an extremely relevant discussion, especially today in Denmark.