The Birth of Storytelling


The first story I remember was told to me by my grandparents. The story took place in the middle of the second world war, my grandpa Odd, a slim and wiry Norwegian tug boat captain in Oslo, had provoked the Nazis one time too many by refusing to raise the German flag on his boat. He and his wife Wilma, a newly graduated midwife with beautiful wavy black hair (the family legend claims we descend from the Romani people), got the word from the resistance that they had to leave the country at once. It was a tough winter and the only way out was over the strait between Norway and Oslo. The ice lay thick and it was late at night when Odd and Wilma took their first son Sigge, who was still an infant, and escaped the Nazi terror.

The resistance had placed Junipers as markers so those escaping could follow them over to safer, Swedish, grounds. The darkness and snow made the sight in front of them near impossible. Each time my grandparents saw a Juniper standing on the ice with its foot buried deep down in the snow, they thought it was a German soldier waiting to shoot them. They trekked on, frightened not knowing where each step they took would take them.
I’m here today writing this, which means they successfully managed to flee the country and raise a family, get grandchildren and start a new life in Sweden. I listened intently when my grandparents spoke of their past, giving my undivided attention with no distractions.

Without my grandparents, and listening to their stories, I would never have chosen this path in life. A path that took a while for me to find.

I work professionally with storytelling in all forms – I’ve written novels and short stories, worked as an actor, and today I do story editing for TV, developing new formats and ideas. Once in a while I act as a segment producer and reporter.
Never underestimate the power of listening. It’s more important than talking, at least as a storyteller is concerned. If I didn’t listen to the people around me, I wouldn’t be good at what I’m doing. From my old relatives telling stories of their lives to engaging in the stories the people I meet in my work today, listening makes me a good storyteller.

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