Gaute Heivoll Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Gaute Heivoll
Photo: Paal Audestad

Gaute Heivoll

An interview with Gaute Heivoll

In a brief author note, Gaute Heivoll describes the incredible inciting events that propelled him to write Before I Burn

It all started with a forest fire at the beginning of May. A few weeks later two old stables burned down. In the end, there were in total ten fires, three of which were houses, and all were razed to the ground. Four people were a hair's breadth from death. All this occurred within a radius of ten kilometres from my childhood home. I was only a few months old at the time, so you could say with some justification I was born into this drama. All of a sudden a small parish of eight hundred inhabitants became national front page news. Even the national TV news carried a big splash when things were at their peak. The investigation involved the murder squad, and the police set up a base in the local village hall. In the weeks of the arson attacks people were likening the situation to wartime, and it really was like being at war. People sat guarding their houses, the church, with guns. Most assumed the perpetrator was someone from outside the area - after all, who would do this type of thing to their own?

Eight of the fires were started over three days, over a weekend, from a Friday morning until the Sunday night. That same Sunday I was christened in Finsland Church. There had been big question marks as to whether there would be any christening. The night after was also the worst night of all. So there is a connection between the pyromaniac and my own … hot seat, so to speak, which in the end is what shapes Before I Burn.

As far as this novel is concerned, everything started with the pyromaniac, and charting what actually happened in the spring of 1978. During my research I found myself becoming more and more involved, not least through the people I spoke to who told me their fire stories, people I have known all my life and who appear to varying degrees in the novel. In that way my story became a part of the story about the pyromaniac, and cast a new light over both him and me.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.