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Writers' Room: Charlotte Weitze

  • By Sam Sedgman
  • 10th April 2014
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Free Word are delighted to welcome our Danish Writer in Residence Charlotte Weitze, who is spending a few weeks here with us in London researching her new book about climate change. We spoke to her about London, the climate, and the kind of books you can't find in Copenhagen.

How did you become a writer? Why do you write?

I have been writing stories since I was a kid. At the age of 20 I showed some of my short stories to a publisher, and two years later I published my first collection, Skifting (which means “changeling”). Since then, writing has been my job and a way of sharing my thoughts with other people. It’s a way to describe, and maybe understand, a little bit of the world, which I find very complex.

Can you briefly explain what kind of books you write, and tell us a little bit about the book you're working on now, while you're here?

My novels, short stories and plays are often a little bit like fairytales. Something in-between magic and everyday life – fairytale for adults, you could say. But these aren’t romantic fairytales; they are often very dark stories. The novel I am working on right now is a story about a woman married to someone who is half man, half abominable snowman. He feels the climate changing and he sweats all the time. Since the doctors don´t know how to cure him, he decides to change the climate, but nobody wants to listen to him. It´s a story about our relationship to the climate, but it’s also a love story.   

What interests you about writing about climate change, and how would you describe your approach?

I have been writing about relationships, about motherhood, about the relationship between children and adults, and about finding your own identity and that sort of thing. But now it’s time for something else. I am very concerned about the climate. Writing about it is my way of doing something. I might not save the world, but I will try to describe the complexity of nature, climate and the mind of us human beings. 

What are you most excited about doing in the UK, and what are you hoping to get out of your time here?

At home I live in a small village in the countryside. I often go to Copenhagen, but it’s very different from London. This city is a metropolis of great exhibitions, museums and lectures – many of which concern the climate. Among other things, I’m headed to London Book Fair – so this could be my chance to get my novel translated one day.

Do you find it difficult to write in Danish when you're spending your days interacting with people in English?

Oh yes! I haven´t written a single line in Danish yet. But maybe being here is not the time for writing – my time in London is a time for research; time for opening up my mind and getting new ideas.

What are you reading at the moment? And how is it?

Rose Fenton, the Director of Free Word, gave me some books when I first came to London. Every day I spend some hours reading. You have so many books here that I have not seen in Denmark: books about how not to get depressed about climate change (!) and a great diversity of poetry about nature and our climate.

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