Hanne is the epitome of a classy, classic book worm

Welcome back, and welcome to a very interesting interview. As you know I’ve begun searching for readers to do interviews with. I’m curious about the people who buy our (i.e. authors) work, who keep encouraging us, push us. Today I would like to introduce you to Hanne Lie, a gal from Norway, who is the very embodiment of a classic reader, devouring lots and lots of books. Hanne is also a well-traveled member of the LGBT convention “traveling circus”. I saw her at three (!) of the conventions I attended last year, and I have a hunch she’ll visit the same conventions I do, again. Why? I’ve asked her. Let’s meet this classy lady from  Norway with whom I share a common friend (which we didn’t know when we met…)

Not bad, not bad at all... I can totally see myself eating fresh shrimp here...

Not bad, not bad at all… I can totally see myself eating fresh shrimp here… Beats any indoor setting.

If we were to do this interview in the real world, where would we sit and talk? If it was in the Summer we’d be sitting on a pier with our feet in the water eating self-peeled prawns. If it was in the Winter we’d be inside a London Pub having Fish & Chips.

Who is Hanne in her own words? Hanne is an introvert/loner who prefers to disappear into books when the day job is done, she’s also a loyal daughter, big sister, (favourite) aunt to 5 nephews and nieces, sister-in-law to two good men, colleague and a human rights activist. She’s also an agnostic/atheist who strongly believes that those of us who have the means and (legal) rights have a moral obligation to fight for those who don’t. My favourite quote is from the Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland and his 1936 poem “Dare not to sleep!” and it’s most famous line “Du må ikke tåle så inderlig vel den urett som ikke rammer deg selv!” (“Dare not endure so well the injustice that does not affect yourself!”).

Hanne already is a good egg! Photo: Information of New Orleans

Hanne already is a good egg! Photo: Information of New Orleans

What is one thing you would like the world to remember you for? She was a good egg! 😉

I know you’re an avid reader. What got you into reading in the first place? I don’t remember, but according to my parents I was curious about reading from a very young age (3-ish) and would sit on my father’s shins while he was (trying to) read the newspaper wanting to know what the letters and words said, and demanded ALL the signs interpreted when we were out and about. I had a friend two years my senior so when she started school she would then teach me in the afternoons in my playroom where I had a little blackboard with the alphabet, numbers, an abacus and a clock. So by the time I started school at 7 I could already read, write and do maths. At the time (1970) there was no individual adaptation at school so I was told to sit quietly and read my story books while the other 28 children were taught the basics. Nice for me and my hunger for reading, but not very conducive to forming relationships with my classmates or developing good study habits, as I was basically forgotten!

Of all the many genres out there, from crime to sci-fi to literary novels, you like to read gay fiction. Why?

I don’t read gay fiction exclusively, as I still love crime/thrillers/forensic thrillers as well as historical accounts (fictionalized as well as biographies), but gay fiction/romance probably accounts for 80% of my reading these days. I’ve always loved reading romance, but as an independent and self-sufficient woman born in the 60’s the females in MF romances increasingly annoyed the cr*p out of me and since I a) couldn’t relate to them on any level and b) really don’t like the power and financial/social dynamics hammered into us from a patriarchal world I was reading less and less romance until I stumbled across a MMF (Male-Male-Female) menage series back in 2010 while on holiday in Spain, and although I liked the series I found I was more interested and intrigued by the emotional and communicative relationship between the two men (even though neither MC was someone I was supposed to identify with or emulate) and I started looking for Gay fiction on Amazon. It opened up a whole new world of political and societal issues to me, and the awareness rekindled my passion for the fight against injustice and inequality wherever it’s found. I don’t think any of my nephews or nieces are LGBT, but as they’re still in their teens I’ve made sure they know I’m a safe haven and that my love for them is unconditional, whether or not they discover at some point that they’re not 100% straight. [Thank you, Hanne for your support and your fight for equality and diversity! Sounds like a platitude, but I mean it!]

If a genie came and granted you a special wish, to be the main character of a book, which would you choose and why? Aaaargh, that’s like asking a mother to choose a favourite child!!!! No fair! 😀 [who ever said I was fair?] OK, if I have to choose one I think I’ll choose Kane Morgan in Rhys Ford‘s Sinner’s Series. He’s confident, capable, loyal, smoking hot (according to Miki), kind and compassionate. Who wouldn’t want to be all that? 🙂

For some odd reason – we all have our preferences – the genie didn’t appreciate your choice and sends you off to live the rest of your life with only three books as company. Choose wisely! Again, you’re mean! [Me? What? Blame it on the genie… 😉]OK, here goes:
The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas, père) – which I’ve read countless times from the age of 10
Queen Margot (Alexandre Dumas, père) – also read countless times from an early age.
Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)

Interesting choices! Thanks for recommending these. They are true classics of European literature.

Meet Hanne, this week's reader.

Meet Hanne, this week’s reader.

Let’s get personal… 🙂 Your earliest childhood memory? I was probably 4 or 5, and was having lunch with my mum and our then “old” cleaning lady, and for some reason I can’t recall (I was probably whining about brushing my teeth or something) she (Mrs. Aarsvoll) pushed out her lower dentures with her tongue, and me upon seeing her teeth protruding from her mouth, with eyes wide as saucers I jumped up and ran to the top of the stairs and yelled down to my friend who was in our playroom to “come and see Mrs. Aarsvoll’s teeth”! My mum and Mrs. Aarsvoll were laughing their heads off! I rushed back and stood staring at her in astonishment and tried to push my own teeth out (luckily they were immobile)! 😀

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up? Oh no, is it morning already! :'(

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? I can’t remember any “good” advice, only admonitions and what NOT to do.

And the worst? Take German as a third language, you’ll have much more use for it than French (according to my parents). I’ve not spoken a word German since I left school, as I really really didn’t want to study it, but had my heart set for French, but I was overruled by my parents.

I totally see it. Mauritius is a beautiful place. Great taste.

I totally see it. Mauritius is a beautiful place. Great taste.

What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to? Outside of Norway, I’d say Mauritius,

Do you have any regrets in life? Not having stood up to my parents (my dad in particular) when I was young and was told that I had to take German instead of French in Middle-/Comprehensive School (ungdomsskolen), and also believed him when he said I was “rubbish” at maths when I said I wanted to become an architect!

I’ve seen you on the “traveling circus”, attending several of the gay literature conventions last year. What’s the appeal to you as a reader, a) to attend and b) to return, again and again? As a loner with no real life friends where I live I usually go on holiday by myself, so going to the cons give me the opportunity to meet up with friends (some are actual friends and not just FB acquaintances) from elsewhere whom I’ve gotten to know through our common interest in reading gay fiction/romance, some of whom are authors but most are other readers. Obviously each con is different both in size and attendance, so I get to see different people at different cons. Of course getting to fan-girl (in the typical Scandinavian reserved way, ie. no squealing, screaming and/or screeching) when I get to meet some of my favourite authors plays a part of why I spend most of my vacation time (and money) on going to cons.

Quick fire five: Answer only with one word/name OR a number.
On average, how many books do you read per week? 3
Who’s your favorite author? Impossible to answer [Chicken, not egg… LOL]
Your favorite drink? Pepsi-Max
How old were you when you lost your, you know, “virginity”? (Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone) Older than most of my generation. 😉
Who’s your favorite musical artist? David Bowie (talk about timing?!) :'( [I’m sorry to hear that. He was a great role model for many of us, including me…]

Wow, what a classy lady. I knew the moment I met Hanne that she is something quite special, and I already look forward to seeing her again. How anyone with a heart as big as Hanne and a personality as warm and welcoming as Hanne can see herself as a loner is above me. She’s simply “wow”. Trust me on this. Now, as is customary in my reader interviews, Hanne also got to ask me a question (which I promised to answer truthfully), and she asked me this: “If you could give Sascha only one advice, what would it be?”

Who said “No fair?” LOL I hope to be able to give my son lots of advice, but right now, in this very moment, what I consider the most important lesson is probably to always to true to yourself. I’m not going to stop here, because this is a complex question. We live in a culture (here in the west) that really heralds self-fulfillment and egoism. That is not what I mean, because I find it ultimately harmful to our society: if we all simply care about ourselves, who’s to care about others? What happens to our relationships? Being true to oneself isn’t meant as a negation of relationships, but it’s about being who you really, truly are IN your relationships. To be honest about yourself to others, but above all, to yourself. It’s so easy to go with the flow today, just do as you’re expected to do (e.g. get married, have kids, a house, an SUV and a dog #yawn) rather than looking to your core and who you truly are. If that happens to be that house, that dog, that SUV and a spouse and kids, great, if not, great! I’ve arrived at this conclusion through a combination of being an outcast (aka gay) and being reasonably old, or as the song goes: “only dead fish follow the stream!” Does this answer your question Hanne? I have a hunch you see things similarly?

[Hanne e-mailed that she fully agrees with me.]

Tusen takk Hanne, det var koseligt!

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Have a great weekend!


PS: Dare to do this? If you do, send me a message! I love to get to know (my) readers… Questions may vary from interview to interview.

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