Last fall, Eline Johnsen Helledal, 19, wrote an article about her relationship with her substance-abusing brother and submitted it to a reporting competition held by newsmagazine A-magasinet. Helledal’s story was strong enough to take first place in the competition, but the story does not end there.
Not long after Helledal was contacted by publishing house Gyldendal; they were curious to see if the youngster would be interested in turning the article into a book. Helledal accepted the offer, and started applying for scholarships and grants to help her fund the project. After a few successful applications to freedom of expression organization Fritt Ord and non-fiction author’s association (NFF), the budding journalist and non-fiction author has been given NOK 150,000 (nearly USD 28,000) in scholarship funding.
“These scholarships have really started me off with a bang,” Helledal told Aftenposten. “I mean I am only 19 years old! Now I am not going to do anything other than work on my book and freelance on the side. This is scary, fun, strange and new, all at once. I am convinced that the time these scholarships will afford me, will only lead to a better book.”
Helledal’s book will deal with the difficulties that come along with having family members addicted to drugs, about broken promises and sibling relations. Helledal’s brother has approved the project and will even contribute some to the book himself.
Literary non-fiction is on the rise in Norway, with some of the most famous Norwegian non-fiction authors making waves in the media after joining the Norwegian Authors Association, where membership is typically reserved for prose writers. Non-fiction sales are up by 22 percent, and opportunities for financing are steadily improving. Last year, NFF handed out around NOK 60 million (more than USD 11 million).
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