Interview with the Word Hut Writing Competition
Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Tell us something about Andreas Kornevall.
I am a Swedish Heathen Viking with some well earned strands of silver in my hair. Also, I am bit of a nomad. I grew up in Chile, Sweden and Switzerland. I am now semi-settled in the mystifying island of the Angles. I live here with my wife and our two daughters. As a day job I run an environmental charity called the Earth Restoration Service, and I am also the co-founder of a volunteer sending organisation called WorkingAbroad.
When and why did you start writing stories?
I was too restless to go through the discipline that writing demands when I was younger. Maturity played a big part in my writing development, I started getting non-fiction work published in my 30’s. The reason why I write is to get a more perceptive inner dialogue with myself and with others, I find writing to be a form of careful gardening with my thoughts.
How would you describe your writing style?
I tend to express things in a way that sounds natural – I am not a fan of using language to confuse people.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
I rummage through folklore and myths, such as the Brother Grimm’s, the Swedish and Russian folktales, the Poetic Edda. Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf is the Wagner of literature for me. Some say “words freeze to death on the page” so learning poems by heart gives me a sense of fulfilment. I am currently working to learn Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Poetry by W.B Yeats and Rilke are never far from my side.
Other inspirations comes from Robert Bly and his associated band of brothers: Michael Meade, Martin Prechtel and Martin Shaw (Shaw’s work is very influential to me, as I have studied with him) – they are all mighty storytellers, read them or hear them when you get the chance.
What is your favourite time for writing?
In the mornings. But occasional flames of inspiration have flared up after midnight. Each time this happens, the whole family wakes up and there is a lot of commotion. But one has to obey the muse, I don’t have much choice but to follow her instructions.
Where is your favourite location for writing and why?
I write best at home. On the road I am busy taking in the sights.
What other writing do you do – non-fiction, poetry, etc?
I write non-fiction and book reviews for environmental magazines through my work with the Earth Restoration Service. I am also a storyteller; I perform stories on hillsides, in people’s living rooms, in woodlands, festivals and schools.
What is your earliest memory of writing a story?
I remember once being thirteen years old, sitting down at my desk, and trying to write a fantasy book, I wanted it to sound like Tolkien’s Silmarillion – it was a fantastic failure and an act of outrageous youthful arrogance. I managed to get one sentence together.
Are you someone who plans their writing in detail or do you just launch into an idea and see where it goes?
I come across phrases that arrest me and these small sentences form the basic material for larger work. They can be anything from what a friend says, or hearing children playing, there are some words that will captivate me, and then I know there is a story or piece to be written.
People say you should only write about what you know. What is your view on this?
I believe the imagination is best served by entering the unknown.
Writing can be a lonely occupation or hobby. What is your advice for coping with this?
Make friends with your complexes.
It’s said that in the future everyone will be published but no one will be read. What is your view on this statement?
I think every human being is a great epic story ready to be told. Readers will develop their own discernment with all their choices they have today. But I would counter your statement and say this: the more writers there are, the more readers there will be; because I have never met a writer who is not an avid reader.
How do you cope when your writing is ignored or rejected?
Terrible. I don’t shave, I don’t clean myself. I start to lose my will to live. Only years of therapy can bring me back to normal.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you overcome this?
Recently I changed the main character in the story from first person to third person; this allowed the story to flow again and I could breathe a sigh of relief. When you are stuck, you have to change the perception of “why” you are writing this story.
Do you have a blog or website? For what reasons do you run these?
Some writings are under: kornevall.com – the blog is a practical way to keep some of the work all in one place.
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
They are happy and supportive. My wife helps me with editing and feedback.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their writing?
Impossible to choose one. But I especially love authors that invoke the landscapes in their stories, I find that with JRR Tolkien, Helge Kjellin, Jeanna Otherdahl (her writing was very influential in the Soul-Moon story), David Abram, Ursula Le Guin, E.R Eddison, Mervyn Peake, Gary Snyder, Peter Matthiessen, Robert Bly, Martin Prechtel and Astrid Lindgren to name a few. Astrid Lindgren’s words bring forth many childhood memories of the Swedish wild landscape.
What has been your proudest moment so far with your writing?
When I received a framed painting from a talented artist (Lucy Campbell) who had painted a character from a short story I wrote called the River Dolphin of the Yangtze.
What do you hope to achieve in the future with your writing?
In the near future I would like to have finally finished my first novella, Goldwinde. If I can touch a few people with my writing and have some readers appreciating what goes on in my head then I’ll be a happy camper.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Writing is a journey of self-discovery. Go your own way, find your own voice and all that, but listen to what the old bears say about overusing adjectives.