Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Alex Dahl Interview - The Heart Keeper

Photo Content from Alex Dahl

Half American, half Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a BA in Russian and German Linguistics with International studies and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an MSc in Business Management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the UK and the US as well as a novel, Before I Leave You, in Norway in 2013. Alexandra is a serious Francophile and currently lives between London and Sandefjord.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Oslo to a Norwegian father and an American mother. Having lived in lots of places, home has been an elusive feeling, but at the moment I split my time between Sandefjord, Norway and London. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a life in writing?
Persevere. And don’t take one person’s opinion as indicative of your abilities as a writer. If you wish to make a living from writing, grow some thick skin, read everything you can get your hands on, and…write.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby for you?
I never wanted to do anything else, but when I had kids young and then studied for a Master’s Degree in Business Management, I realized I’d slowly removed myself from the career I truly wanted. That was when I got really serious, and started to carve out non-negotiable writing time from an already jam-packed schedule.

Please tell my Book Nerd community a little about your new release, THE HEART KEEPER.
The Heart Keeper tells the story of Alison Miller-Juul, an American living in Oslo, whose only child, Amalie, drowns in tragic circumstances. Amalie’s organs are donated and several months later, Alison finds out who received her heart after becoming obsessively interested in cell memory―the notion of a person’s memories and experiences being transferred to the recipient through organ donation. Kaia Berge is a girl of seven who received Amalie’s heart, and as Alison strikes up contact with her mother Iselin, worlds and lives collide… 

Which character did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed writing both Alison and Iselin in this book, they both resonated with me at different stages of my own life. Young Iselin, feeling trapped by mothering a sick child while trying to establish a career, while also being consumed by love and worry for their child. And Alison, who is struck still by grief, who begins to increasingly remove herself from her life and loved ones to pursue her obsession―they were both psychologically interesting characters to explore.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
I recently read The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani and felt profoundly affected by it. It is a very dark book, but also a fresh take on the thriller with psychological, social and political undertones, giving a hugely interesting insight into modern French family life. 

I love exploring different places, so had to choose this one.

  • 1. Norway. Norway is a great location to write from and about, as it is seemingly small and safe―the perfect place to think up underlying horrors.
  • 2. London. I would love to write London into one of my future projects. It is a great, diverse city and I loved the role it played in Girl on the Train, for example. 
  • 3. France. France is my favorite country on the planet, so any excuse to drop a little frenchness into my books, I’ll take it. 
  • 4. Ariège. The book I am currently working on is partially set in this remote, beautiful corner of France and I have been doing lots of research on the physical geography and cultural history. I can’t wait to visit later this spring! 
  • 5. Paris. Because Paris is always, always a good idea. I used to live there, and would write from my tiny attic room in the 5th arrondissement, just behind the Pantheon. 
  • 6. San Francisco. My American hometown and the first big city I truly loved. Would love to set a future novel here, it would be the perfect excuse to spend more time there.
  • 7. Oslo, because it is so familiar to me. I like a combination of familiar locations and unknown ones that prompt research. It is such a joy to discover new places and learn about them through research.
  • 8. The Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, UK. One of the best kept secrets in Europe, in my opinion. These stunningly beautiful, sub-tropical islands have an incredible history and would lend themselves perfectly to setting a novel.
  • 9. Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, France. If I were to write a romance novel I would set it here because it is just so fairytale perfect.
  • 10. Key West. Because I really, really want to go and need a good excuse! I would set a domestic noir mystery here―I like the contrast between beautiful places and dark storylines… 
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am very excited for the release of The Heart Keeper this summer! I am also working on another thriller at the moment, which is now at the late stages of a first draft―that lovely stage when you can see an actual novel emerge! It’s a (hopefully) original take on abduction, weaving in my favorite themes and components―motherhood, dark secrets, manipulation, lies, and psychologically complex characters.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would place narcissistic, ruthless, broken Cecilia Wilborg from The Boy at the Door into a traditional love story. She’d break all the rules and provide an entertaining anti-heroine.

What are you most passionate about today?
My kids, writing and travel. I am also reading a lot of psychology, tentatively considering pursuing that further―who knows how far I will go with it! It is extremely interesting, in any case. 

Where can readers find you?
At home or at a café in Wimbledon, working. Or, on my days off, I like to go for long walks. I love being in nature to think, clear my head, and, of course―plot! 

Critically acclaimed author Alex Dahl explores how love can turn darkly sinister when a desperate mother looks to reconnect with her lost daughter in this riveting Norwegian set psychological suspense novel.

Two mothers. Two daughters. One heart.

When Alison's beloved daughter Amalie drowns, her world turns impenetrably dark. Alison tries to hold it together throughout the bleak Fall, but in the darkest days of the Norwegian Winter she completely falls apart.

In another family, Amalie's passing is a new beginning. After years of severe health problems, young Kaia receives a new heart on the morning after Amalie drowns. Her mother Iselin has struggled to raise Kaia on her own and now things are finally looking up. She's even made an affluent new friend who's taken a special interest in her and her daughter.

Alison knows she shouldn't interfere, but really, she's just trying to help Iselin and Kaia. She can give them the life they never had, and by staying close to them, she can still be with her daughter. Kaia is just like her, and surely, something of Amalie must live on in her. As her grief transforms into a terrifying obsession, Alison won't let anything stop her from getting back what she has lost.

You can purchase The Heart Keeper at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALEX DAHL for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl.


  1. Yes, I have stood up for someone I hardly knew.

  2. "Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?" No! Never!

  3. Not that I can think of but I have no problem doing so.

  4. I've never done it. It wouldn't matter how well I knew them. I find wasting someone's time to be very inconsiderate.

  5. Yes, when I was a kid, I chased off some bullies who were picking on another little fella.