Constance Orbeck-Nilssen is an author, journalist and teacher. She has been writing children’s books since 2004. Her previous titles include Vanishing Colors, Why Am I Here? and I’m Right Here (published by Eerdmans), and her books have been published in fifteen countries.
What made you decide to become an author?
Writing has always been my creative sanctuary. I wrote poetry when I was a child, and the need to express through words continued into my adult life. After working as a journalist, where I had to write what other people told me to write, I decided it was time to write full time and take a leap into the world of creating.
Why are you passionate about being a writer?
It’s an opportunity to create worlds within the world we live in. I can give children a free space where they can think outside the box and find their own answers through my stories.
What’s a typical workday like?
I always wake up early, then light candles and brew a hot cup of tea. And from there I write for hours until my dog reminds me to go for a walk. When I write, I let it flow freely knowing that I will come back and tighten the screws in the second round. Freedom is important when you start a creative process.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Some ideas come from a place of wondering, others from pressing issues in society or experiences/ moments that made time stand still.
How much research do you do before you begin a book?
I always make a sketch of what and where I want to go with my idea, and from there I do a lot of research. The research can sometimes take months. I talk to people, interview others, and dive into books and of course call on my good friend Google.
Where do you find your inspiration for new stories and characters?
People I meet. My children. Or simply through observing and listening.
What is the process of writing a book; how does it go from an idea to a finished work on sale in bookstores?
An idea wakes me up at night. I grab my nightstand notebook and write down everything that comes up. In the next days I try to imagine where, who, and what is involved in the story. How they feel and what challenges they may have, and then after lots of research, I find the solutions and draw out the story in full detail. Most of the time the story just flows through my fingers and onto a document. When I feel the story is ready I send it to my editor, and the second phase begins. The second phase is a conversation between me, the editor, and an illustrator where we together form the total universe for the book. It’s a wonderful journey.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It is a great honor that my books can travel across borders and reach children in different corners of the world. And the biggest highlight was when some of my books have even traveled as far as to the countryside of India and helped children there overcome fear.
What do you hope kids learn from your books?
I hope to inspire their curiosity and trigger the importance of stretching their thoughts and hearts to places that sometimes can seem distant or impossible to reach.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I love to listen to other people’s conversations when I’m in restaurants or other public places.
Buy these beautiful picture books by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen