Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Anything chocolate is good. And I love all the coffee flavors. All of them.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
In theory, Norwegian waffles with raspberry jam. In practice, I find myself eating an awful lot of peanut butter toast with rainbow sprinkles. The sprinkles add a little something extra, don’t you think?
One food you would never eat?
I know it’s good for me, but I don’t like fish. At all. Any kind. If it lives in the ocean, I don’t like it. You’re welcome, fish.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I’ve been so thankful to tap into this supportive community of writers. Meeting y’all has been my favorite part of this journey.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
If you like Norse gods, Asgardian Assassins, cottages in the Cotswolds, waffles, and one 6’5” Nordic Adonis, Elsker is probably for you. 😉
Do your characters really talk to you?
Yes. I have to confess, I wrote Elsker quite by accident. I never meant to write a book; Elsker was a little story I wrote in my journal, just for me. But I couldn’t walk away from it — I’d wake up in the middle of the night with these characters chattering away (I realize it sounds crazy as I type it), and I couldn’t go back to sleep until I wrote down what they said. I felt kind of nutty, with all these people living in my head with me. And once I was finished writing their story, I wondered if other people might love Kristia, Ull, and the Elsker crew as much as I did. I submitted it… and now the whole world can read my journal. Oh, dear!
If you could jump into a book and live in that world, which would it be?
I would enroll at Hogwarts, room with Hermione, go to classes with Ron and Harry, and spend my weekends at Honeydukes. But I would never try a Bertie Botts Every Flavored Bean. Ever.
What is your dream cast for your book?
Ull is a 6’5” Nordic Adonis, who’s supposed to look about 23 years old. Since it’s a dream cast, I’d age Alexander Skarsgärd down ten years and pick him. Then I’d come to set and just stare at him all day.
Sorry, I just drooled a little. What was the question?
Jennifer Lawrence would be the perfect Kristia — the unassuming, small town girl who wins Ull’s heart.
Judi Dench would be the perfect Elsker, the rogue, matchmaking Norn. And since we’re talking my dream cast here, Dame Judi would banter beautifully with Dame Julie Andrews as Olaug, Ull’s grandma.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Ull is an Asgardian Assassin — he’s seen and inflicted his fair share of loss. He believes he’s marked for death, and he’s terrified of dragging Kristia down with him. Demons, by Imagine Dragons, nails Ull’s desperation to protect Kristia from what he sees as his dark, unalterable future.
If you could be one of your Norse Gods, which would it be and why?
I’d be Inga, Elsker’s fictionalized version of the Warrior Goddess of Love, Freya. Inga’s the best fencer in Asgard, an absolute Domestic Goddess, and she’s married to her best friend. It couldn’t get much better than that.
What is your favorite Quote?
Tennyson’s inspirational line from Ulysses: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Also, Benedick’s declaration of love in Much Ado About Nothing: The world must be peopled.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Ull’s goddess friend Inga got my love of IndyCar, and she roots for one of my favorite drivers, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Kristia got my unwillingness to join the 21st century — we both still have flip phones.
I can play the William Tell Overture by tapping my fingers on my cheeks. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, I can always join the circus.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Every Monday morning, @traciebanister tweets pretty pictures of Captain Hook from the previous night’s episode of Once Upon A Time. They are accompanied by hysterical, inappropriate commentary. So… that.
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
Back in the day I was shamelessly addicted to Flavor of Love, Flavor Flav’s dating show. I never missed an episode.
Favorite/most influential teacher
Dr. Carnicke taught my Shakespeare course. I walked into the class convinced it was going to be the most boring semester of my life, and within a week I was a diehard, Billy Shakes loving, Complete Works toting, Shakespeare fan. Her passion and enthusiasm opened a whole new world to me, and I’m forever grateful.
Olaug led my Norwegian course. She introduced me to the language, the customs, and taught me more about my heritage than I could have hoped. But most importantly, she introduced me to Norsk waffles. And while I’ve never been the best language student, I have definitely perfected the waffle recipe. Takk for vaffel, Olaug!
Something your readers would never guess about you.
I share that Norwegian Waffle recipe at the end of Elsker… but I don’t always follow my own recipe. Instead of serving the waffles with a tart jam, lately I’ve been going rogue and using Nutella. It’s so good.
What words or expression do you overuse?
You know Rob Lowe’s character on Parks & Rec? The guy who overuses and over-enunciates “Literally”? That’s totally me.
What hidden gem do you have in your bookshelves?
My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is autographed by Sirius Black. Seriously. He was promoting Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and while all the respectable grown-ups approached him with questions about his Oscar nomination, I walked up with my copy of Harry Potter. He saw me literally bouncing up and down, book clutched firmly in my hot little hands, and asked if I wanted him to sign it. I did, and he signed it “Gary Oldman/Sirius B.” Best. Day. Ever!
140 Characters or less, Tweet about your book.
Sometimes finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have in store. #Elsker
Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest-to-goodness Norse God — an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.
Her orderly life just got very messy.
ELSKER – Book 1, THE ELSKER SAGA
At eight o’clock, a firm knock interrupted my reading. I picked my way through the flower shop that our living room had become and opened the door.
“Oh good, you kept my peace offerings.” Ull treated me to a rakish grin.
“Just a few of them,” I muttered. “Come on in.”
“Oh, no. You must come with me.”
“Why?” I challenged. Ull sighed.
“Are you going to fight me at every turn?”
“Please come.” He looked so adorable standing on my stoop, his scarf casually thrown across the grey sweater under his coat. I gave in quicker than I meant to.
“Fine.” I grabbed my coat from the closet by the door and shoved my keys and wallet into the pocket. “Where are we off to?” I closed the door behind me and followed Ull into the brisk night, waiting for his promised explanation.
But he didn’t say anything. Instead, he put his hand on the small of my back and guided me away from campus. I shivered and noticed that Ull wore his jacket open, at ease in the chill. As we rounded the corner, Ull dropped his hand to clasp mine. It was so warm, so strong, and for a moment I forgot to be mad at him. We walked in silence as he led me down the main road. After two right turns, I found myself standing in a quiet garden.
Ull had brought me to a church.