Author Thea van Diepen, The Illuminated Heart

Taste Life Twice is all about nurturing creativity and encouraging risks to get our creative projects out there. As those of you on the Subscriber List know, I have a wish of curating an online “Creative Efforts” gallery here on TLT, and it looks like the wheels may indeed be turning to make it happen!

Here’s a first piece of the puzzle: my first author interview on the blog, featuring fellow Multipotentialite, Thea van Diepen!

If you clicked on that, you know that Thea and I are both part of an online community called Puttylike that supports people with multiple passions. (If you’re interested in joining, check it out here*) We have one big one in common: writing novels. Here’s the teaser for Thea’s most recent novel, The Illuminated Heart,* based on a Norwegian fairy tale.

The Illuminated Heart by Thea van Diepen

Dagný’s only brother, Kaj, is dead. He died of illness before his life had really begun, and Dagný blames God for it.

About a week after his death, Kaj comes back as a draugur, a creature intent on the ruin of those it had known in life. With his unholy power, he kills their crops, causes their animals to go insane, and brings them to the brink of starvation. Every single member of Dagný’s village, convinced that her family has brought this curse upon themselves through sin, leaves them alone to die.

Then, one day, a polar bear arrives at their door with a proposition:

“Give me your youngest daughter, and I will make you wealthy.”

The adventure that follows thrusts Dagný into a world where the supernatural intrudes on the natural as a matter of course, where she must act without any assurance of safety, and where she must decide whether to throw away all she’s believed or finally trust in it for the first time.


Thrilling, right? This girl writes amazing copy, and that is but the prelude to her imaginative and compelling prose. Thea has not 1, but 2, books now out, and may well have invented the genre in which she places this novel: “inspirational dark fantasy.”

Learn more about this young writer from Canada on her blog, Expected Aberrations.

I asked Thea a few questions about her creative process, and found her answers delightful, perhaps even “illuminating” in themselves.

1) So how on earth did you discover Norwegian fairy tales, and why did you decide to use one as the basis for your story?

TvD: I didn’t really discover Norwegian fairy tales. I honestly didn’t know it was Norwegian until a couple years ago (at which point I was like “OMG SO COOL”), but I discovered this one first through a live-action movie that I watched when I was little. The story stuck in my mind, but I couldn’t remember the title, until I randomly found the story again, but in written form. It instantly became my favourite fairy tale, which is probably as good reason as any for retelling it like I did. :)

2) While you’re burning through a storyline, what other sorts of tasks help you focus? Are there other activities ‘opposite’ to writing that help balance your day, for example?

TvD: I think I may eventually figure out ways to properly balance out my day when working on a project. That’s definitely a goal of mine. Currently, I just work on it and forget to eat lunch. After a while, I take a day or two off and do something completely different. The most interesting this time around was spending the entire day working on just one drawing. I forgot to eat then, too.

3) Since this is not your first book (Dreaming of Her and Other Stories*
is the first, also available through Amazon), you’ve probably considered a lot of possible themes for your writing. What are some of the themes that consistently appeal to you, and why?

TvD: Part of me secretly wants to be that snooty author pontificating about the themes of my books one time just so I can make fun of myself afterwards. The truth is, theme is something I do more intuitively than consciously. The true nature of good and evil is something I think about a lot. Who God really is is another. Things about identity and free will and such. I don’t know if they come out as themes, per se, but that would be cool.

4) You’ve participated pretty actively in NaNoWriMo‘s opportunities to create– is this part of your secret to success? What other ways do you structure your writing, editing, publishing, and marketing tasks?

TvD: It’s certainly my secret to getting 20,000 words written in two weeks. Or 50,000 in one month. Deadlines are so very helpful for getting me to actually work. Rather than just thinking about how working would be a good idea. As to success… I have no idea. I don’t really consider myself successful yet, but I’m on the road to it.

With my first book, I made lists for marketing and publishing. But too many things on too many lists freaks me out. This time, I remembered all the things I did last time, what worked, what didn’t, and tried to streamline it to the best of my ability. I probably missed things. I’m okay with that.

As to writing, I do a lot of thinking. I write down the thinking, which makes more thinking. Eventually, I realize I can finally start writing the darn story, so I do. And I keep thinking all the way until I’m done and all my thoughts are incorporated to the best of my ability. That’s about all. The details have an unsettling tendency to change each time round.


Feel free to ask Thea questions about the book in the comments. She’s “out of pocket” for July, but will be rarin’ to go when she returns. In the meantime, you can catch this live-recorded interview conducted by Lori Stalter over on Youtube.

I just finished reading the book myself, and her characters have definitely found their purpose through her elegantly twined story. I was most impressed with Thea’s descriptions and metaphors, which were just beautiful.

And I look forward to our next Nano together, Thea!


*Please note that these are affiliate links. This means if you click through and purchase something, I receive a tiny percentage of the sale. Thanks for supporting those pursuing their dreams in any way possible! :-)

2 Responses to Author Thea van Diepen, The Illuminated Heart

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