Camilla Bruce’s debut novel, You Let Me In, is a haunting, fairy tale-esque thriller about a reclusive novelist’s final request and the terrible secrets unearthed after her death. Bruce, who was born and lives in Norway, came to writing fiction in English through a corner of the internet that has become increasingly influential—the wonderful world of fan fiction.
This spring, my debut novel, You Let Me In, comes out in both the U.S. and the U.K. What is a little bit unusual about my debut is that I am a Norwegian, born and bred. I have never lived outside of Norway, and have also not, ever, published a single piece of fiction in Norwegian. Through special circumstances at first, and later by choice, I write all my stories in English.
When I first embarked on the road to this moment, I had just turned 22. I was a student, single and had just given birth to my son. Though one would think I was somewhat prepared, I had not really understood just how limited my world would become with a baby. I used to have a very active social life before I became a mom, and though I loved my son dearly, it did not take long before I realized I had to find new ways to entertain myself at home.
Two things came to my rescue: the first was nightly reruns of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the other thing was a fairly new thing called the internet. I have my dad to thank for that. Not only did he give me my first computer, but he threw in a dial-up modem as well, and suddenly, the small world I inhabited was not so limited anymore.
The computer got me online—but it was Buffy who got me writing. Since I had just fallen in love with a TV show, it did not take long before I discovered the wonderful world of fandom, and fan fiction in particular, since I have always been all about words. Before long, I was merrily typing away and finding new friends all over the globe. We all wrote in English, of course.
Throughout my 20s, I wrote a lot of fan fiction, visiting several fandoms on the way. I honestly believe it made me a good writer; the feedback was instant and the possibilities felt endless. For a long time, fan fiction was enough for me, and it got me through many challenging situations. As I entered my 30s, however, the desire to write my own stories grew. I also started dreaming of making a career of my words. I did consider switching language at that time—it would have been the right moment—but by then I was so used to writing in English that it felt unnatural not to do so.
There is also the fact that, though there are a lot of great books coming out of Norway (especially literary and crime fiction), we are not at present a powerhouse for speculative fiction. For someone like me, who finds it hard to color inside the lines, other markets seemed wiser choices, and so I kept writing in English.
As it turns out, that was clever of me.
Author photo by Lene J. Løkkhaug.