Nora Dasnes

Cross My Heart and Never Lie
Nora Dasnes

About Author

Nora Dåsnes is an author and illustrator. Cross My Heart and Never Lie is her debut as a writer and illustrator and was awarded both Pondusprisen and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture's prize for best comic. Nora recently received the 2022 Nordic Council Children and Young People's Literature Prize. Nora graduated from Kingston University in London in 2017 but now lives and works in Oslo, Norway.

 

 

Interview

Cross My Heart and Never Lie  (Farshore)

February 2024

Read an extract from Cross My Heart and Never Lie

Cross My Heart and Never Lie is a story about friendships, change and first crushes. In this story, Tuva struggles to keep her friendship group together but eventually finds her own path through her friendship challenges, with a little help from  her first crush.

We asked award-winning author Nora Dåsnes to tell us more about her debut, why she wanted to combine diary and graphic novel elements through the novel, and why she chose to write Cross My Heart and Never Lie in Norwegian.  

 

Q&A with Nora Dåsnes 

"With this story, I didn't necessarily try to give advice, but I wanted the readers to at least feel like they're not alone if,
or rather when, they experience hard times in their friendships."

 

1.    Can you tell us a little about yourself, your roots in Norway, and how you became a writer and illustrator? What kinds of stories do you enjoy creating?

I was born and raised in Oslo, Norway. I've loved books and reading for as long as I can remember, and that love of books was probably what got me interested in doing an exchange year in the UK when I was 16, because so many of my favourite books were British (The Wind in the Willows, The Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Great Expectations, Dracula …)

Even though it was sometimes challenging to get used to a new culture, I really enjoyed getting out of my Oslo bubble, and decided to do my bachelors in the UK as well. Afterwards I did move back to Norway, mainly because I had no money to stay in London, and now it feels really nice to live ten minutes away from most of my family again. But living in the England was a great adventure.

As all this went on, my love for reading turned into a love for writing and drawing, and after completing my bachelor of illustration, I felt equipped to reach out to publishers in Norway with my work. I honestly enjoy creating stories in most genres. As long as I have a character and setting I want to spend time with, I'm good to go.


2.    What is your new graphic novel, Cross My Heart and Never Lie, about?

Cross My Heart and Never Lie is about Tuva, 12, who has to figure out how to deal with her best friends growing apart. Linnéa has gotten a boyfriend and is all about romance and trying to be grown up. Bao thinks romance is the worst and wants to keep playing war in the local forest like they've always done. On top of all this, Tuva falls in love as well, but, unlike Linnéa, Tuva doesn't fall in love with a boy.


3.    Can you tell us about your lead character, Tuva, and the kinds of questions she has through the novel?

Tuva is kind of in the middle of the pack, not quite ready to leave childhood and not quite ready to become a teenager. In the novel, she has to figure out all the new feelings of friendships being challenged and falling in love herself, and how to do it in her own way.


4.    The book is a graphic novel but is interspersed with diary entries; how does this help in telling the story?

In a graphic novel, you often don't get to read the thoughts of the main character. You just see them from the outside, like in a movie. But with her diary, I could give Tuva a place to express all her feelings, especially when it's stuff she doesn't want to tell her friends, or her dad.


5.   How did you approach the illustrations in the book, which are a mix of comic strips, diary and doodles?

The format came very naturally to me when I first started. I think I did the diary with doodles first (I can't imagine writing in my diary without doodling!), and then I started adding the comic strips of what is happening outside the diary entries. It was a really fun format to play around with, because it allowed for so many different layouts and designs.


6.   Why did you want to explore the changes and challenges young teenagers might experience when moving to high school through this story?

I think the ages of 11-14 are super interesting to write about, because so much changes during that time. You're kind of a whole new person by the end of each school year, which is wild to look back on as an adult. And as an author who loves writing about intense emotions, the tween years are a gift.


7.   You focus particularly the question of whether girls focus on their friendships or their relationships at this age; is this something you feel many teenage girls need help and advice with?

I remember friendships becomes more complicated as you get older, when it moves from just hanging out to questions of trust and loyalty, and the secrets you share get more serious. There is also the added stress of social standing and the politics of a classroom, which can get a lot more brutal than what we see in this story. With this story, I didn't necessarily try to give advice, but I wanted the readers to at least feel like they're not alone if, or rather when, they experience hard times in their friendships.


8.    You cover lots of different relationships in this story. Why did you want to include a diverse range of characters and relationships?

I wanted to explore Tuva's character through all the different relationships she has. As well as the friendships, I was really interested in how the parent-child relationships changes when you are her age, that things get more embarrassing to talk about and probably a lot more confusing for the parent. And with Mariam, it's always fun to write about being in love, and how incredibly hard it is to talk to someone you like. All in all, I think seeing how a person interacts with different people is always a great way to learn something about them, so I try to give my characters a lot of different social settings to navigate in my stories.


9.    This is your debut graphic novel.   Why did you choose to write the original story in Norwegian? Is it important for you as a writer to use your mother tongue?

When I wrote the original story, I was working with a Norwegian publisher. I'm fairly comfortable writing in English, but I think this story in particular had to be written in Norwegian, because that's the language my childhood happened in. In my teens, I remember feeling more embarrassed by Norwegian novels and music, and thought English was way cooler. Looking back, I think that was because reading and listening to something in your second language, adds a bit of a distance, like a filter. My mother tongue feels blunter and more uncomfortable, but also more honest. And that honesty is really important to find when you write.


10.   Do you plan to revisit the world or characters of Cross My Heart and Never Lie with future stories? What kinds of things do you enjoy doing to relax when you're not working on a new book?

I have written one more story about the characters in Cross My Heart and Never Lie, called Save Our Forest. I might write a third one, if I find a good enough story.

When I'm not writing, I still love reading, but also going to the cinema, theatre, or concerts. I knit, go for walks, and exercise to prevent drawing injuries (a very real thing). But most importantly I try to see other people as much as possible, because you can get really isolated as a writer with no natural coworkers, and also because friends are still really important even when you're an adult.

Author's Titles