MLA Gold Award Site

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
    The Lost Child
    by Caryl Phillips
    The Lost Child is a modern novel constructed within a historical frame, invoking one of the most ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket
    Bad Country
    by CB McKenzie
    If author CB McKenzie's decidedly noir debut novel Bad Country were chocolate, it would be at ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    If I Forget You
    by Thomas Christopher Greene

    A haunting tale of lost love from the critically acclaimed author of The Headmaster's Wife.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Charmers

The Charmers by Elizabeth Adler

"This tale of romantic suspense makes the perfect beach read."
—Library Journal

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

C To T Q

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.