Otti’s Oslo and the Northern Lights

Growing up in the sophisticated Capital City of Norway, that shares it’s latitude with Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, Othilie Risen would have felt a close bond with nature as her every day choices of clothing and activities were profoundly affected by the changing seasons. Although the warm Golfstream sweeping along Norway’s long western coastline is somewhat counteracting and mellowing what would otherwise be a bitterly cold climate, Liv Risen would not have let her daughter out in the winter without ‘stil-longs’ under her trousers, – that is leggings made from genuine fine wool – and knitted mittens and a hat would also have been obligatory.

As midwinter approached, before daylight dawned Otti had already had two lessons at school and as long as temperatures stayed above minus 10 degrees Celsius the children had to play outside during breaks, – so the stil-longs came in handy. After 3.00 pm Otti walked back home again watching the sun set, the Norwegian day lasting only a measly 6 hours.

In early spring or on a clear autumn evening, after having a hot meal of seasonal whale-beef and boiled potatoes for tea at 5, Otti went out again in the dark to take riding lessons on the hills around the city, and this is when she might have seen – as she moved with the horse through the clear cold darkness – the spectacular northern lights flare across the wide open skies.

With the arrival of midwinter the ski-tracks around the city beckoned after school and Otti put her skies on and glided into the woods beyond the suburbs, exploring a crisscrossing network of tracks, her paths lit up with bright white snow and some even with electric lights, as she was taking her evening ski-stroll.

Finally, having endured the long cold winter, summer came with the longing to expose as much skin as possible to the warming sun and Otti played outside well into the light evenings while her parents were hesitating to go inside, too, eating and drinking on balconies in gardens and lingering in pavement cafes. On an especially lovely day the family escaped on the ferries to go swimming and pick-nicking on the islands around the fjords. When the sun finally set on such a lovely summers day, it was barely an hour until midnight. The sun would be up again before 4.00am.

It was on such a summer night that Fred and Otti finally got married:

Otti'sEscapeFrontPageTroubadour51-1 From Otti’s Escape:

Inside their suite he felt her tumbling against him, but he gave her a quick squeeze and let her go, taking his jacket off meticulously and looking around the room for the champagne he had ordered. It was on the table by the window. Outside, the city was wide awake partying the Saturday night away. Nights in midsummer never quite fell dark; after hanging suspended in half-light for a few hours, the sun wistfully gave up on its descent and started on its climb into day once more, growing pink and bright as it rose in the small hours.
Freddy drew the curtains tightly to keep the light out. It was finally happening, he thought. From now on, he would be making love to Otti. There was no turning back.
He popped the cork off the champagne and poured them both a glass, doing his best to keep her entertained while she drank. Filling their glasses up once more, he loosened his bow-tie and hung it on the hook by the door. There was no other way than to turn the lights off. He did so much want to see her; his head had been filled with images of her nakedness for a long time, both before and after the revelations in the sewing room. But he was not ready yet to let her see him. It was not his body he was worried about because he knew it was strong and athletic. He just could not reveal to her his need of comfort, of the security he hoped she would give him. He feared his eyes would run full of longing for what he had been missing his whole life.

Otti’s Escape by Marianne Wagner, ebook out July 18th


Otti’s Escape, comments from ‘Authonomy’

Authonomy is a website where writers can post their manuscripts for other writers to read and comment on them.

Here are some of the comments given to Otti’s Escape from its airing on the site:

Pia wrote:
Poignantly observed relationships, transcending time. The post-war atmosphere in Oslo captured in fine nuances. Othilie, subduing her spirit to protect a vulnerability under the cool veneer of the mother, is a fascinating character… ‘she seemed able to harness all of that nervous energy into one decisive move whenever she chose to…it exited Fred, and unsettled him’; the scene in the sewing-room is wonderfully surreal.

Angietee wrote:
Intense doesn’t describe this work. A definite must read for all those looking for a story that grips and doesn’t let go.

MJDavey wrote:
I found myself engrossed in the story after the first chapter, and was compelled to read on. As the story progresses Otti’s struggle becomes clearer and her final choices towards finding her own kind of happiness and breaking with the past brings the story to an exciting conclusion.

Benjamin Dancer wrote:
I’m fascinated by the story. The little details, the signal-knock, injects a tension into this scene. The innocence- the running- added intrigue and complexity. This is a subtle narrative, leaving the reader to piece things together. Lastly the contrast: The setting: Icy cold, the fear juxtaposed with love. What a scene!

Patrick Barrett wrote:
Intense and atmospheric with a world of promised intrigue. Very hard to put down.

Colin Normanshaw wrote:
Very atmospheric and engagingly written.

Su Dan wrote:
Great, gripping writing. This is intense and difficult to stop reading.

How Otti’s Escape, a debut novel, came to be

As a single parent in London making a living as a child minder, a normal day went something like this:”Holy nightmare, Batman!”

“Let’s go, Robin!”

Wroom! Whack! POW! Bam!!

-at the end of which I’m sure you can imagine I felt sorely in need of some adult ‘head-space’.

There was only one way to get it; I had to grab the only time that was free, and so started to go to bed early – my son often still playing in his room – in order to get up in the early hours when the rest of the world was still slumbering. In this magical, quiet space, between 5 and 7 in the morning, with the blissful absence of phone calls, visitors and superheroes, a fledgling Otti’s Escape started to emerge.

Many years later, after resting on shelves, being rewritten, being reviewed, resting on shelves some more, moving house, having an airing on ‘Authonomy’ and finally being reviewed by a bona fide editor , I felt Otti’s Escape had finally gathered enough weight and strength to stand on its own two feet. On July 15th she was stepping out into the world, published as an e-book on the Matador imprint, a post war, love triangle, psychological drama. I hope you enjoy the story!


Sound of 1988

In a bedsit in London with a Commodore64 computer called Paula (yes, that was her name…), a keyboard and a Steinberg (Yamaha) interface 3 music and song tracks were invented, arranged and recorded onto 8 track reel to reel tape.
The 3 tapes sat on my shelf for 30 years, through my son growing up and several house-moves. 8 track reel to reel machines disappeared from the songwriting scene and the tapes could not even be played ‘for my grandchildren’. (Well, havn’t got any yet 🙂 ).
Last winter I heard of someone in London who converts music tapes into tracks on CD and sent the tapes off thinking it would be fun to hear them again. The music came back as editable CD-tracks, and after a bit of editing – here is the result, as good as these tapes will ever sound:) :
The spacious electronic sound of the 80s and a 25 year old singing her heart out.
Hope you’ll have some fun listening to these quirky tracks. Click on Arabian Nights and It Goes Around here:

-and if you like these, please take a look at my Author’s Page: The novel ‘Otti’s Escape’ will be out as an e-book on July 18th. You can read more on Marianne Wagner Author on FaceBook and Marianne Wagner, Matador (Publisher)
I won’t give up my dayjob just yet, Ha, ha, – but if you enjoy please like and share! 🙂
xx Marianne