Author: Lene Fogelberg

Meet Flora Reed of The Lightning Tree

It’s only one week until publication day of my YA novel The Lightning Tree! I can barely believe it!

The Main Character

I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about the main character, seventeen-year-old Flora Reed. In the opening of the story, she struggles to adapt to life after her sister Fauna’s accident a year earlier. Burdened by grief and guilt, she goes through the motions of school and home life, trying her best to keep up appearances for the sake of her mother, Ava. There’s a bright spot in Flora’s life though, the cute boy who moved in next door, Carl. He doesn’t seem bothered by the rumours about that girl circulating around their small town, referring to Flora. Instead he proves to be her loyal friend, and maybe even more than friend, which Flora secretly hopes for.

The Mystery

Every day though, Flora is reminded of her sister’s tragedy, by lightning marks engraved on the skin of her arms, neck and chest. She can often feel the scars tingle and burn, especially when she is close to trees, but she dismisses the strange sensations as mere damaged nerves. That is, until she hears her sister calling for her, the same morning that she finds a lifeless body in her front yard. Matters get worse when more people from her small town are found dead under mysterious circumstances and police take an interest in Carl. Flora is convinced that he is innocent. Instead she suspects that the deaths are somehow connected to her sister’s accident and the lightning scars on her skin. What she learns changes everything and she has to race against time to prevent the killings from spreading.

Sensitive and Strong

I absolutely loved writing Flora Reed as the main character. She is such a deep and complex person; sensitive and vulnerable but at the same time strong-minded and full of conviction that stems from her compassionate heart. At the young age of seventeen, she has already experienced deep heartbreak and grief, and she taps into these emotions to find the strength she needs to tackle the mind-boggling changes to the world that she is the first to become aware of.

Meet Fauna

I also loved writing Flora’s younger sister Fauna. She emerged as a second main character while I wrote the story. I felt that her perspective and experiences were so interesting, I just had to explore them more closely and share that with the reader. That’s how I ended up with the book’s structure of alternating chapters. This allowed me to build suspense and deepen the understanding of what is going on, as well as add subtext when the reader gets a sense of the contact between the sisters. They are a kind of metaphor for how close mankind and nature are; living side by side but not really communicating. Even though Fauna’s chapters are the shortest, they were the hardest to write. To capture her voice, her pain and her longing often brought me to tears.

These two sisters play a crucial role in the fight between humanity and nature in the Natural Intelligence revolution, and I can’t wait for you to meet them! They were such a joy to write, their individual traits, but also how they relate to each other, to nature, and the world around them. All the characters are close to my heart, even the villains, who you’ll also meet in the books!

Love,
Lene

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Behind The Lightning Tree

Display of the book The Lightning Tree on a table.

Next month The Lightning Tree will be out in the world! Woo-hoo!

I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about it and what inspired me to write this story.

Introduction

The Lightning Tree is the first installment of The Natural Intelligence Revolution Trilogy. A contemporary Young Adult trilogy infused with magical realism. It takes place in a small Pennsylvanian town, haunted by mysterious killings. 17-year-old Flora Reed suspects that the deaths are somehow connected to her younger sister Fauna’s tragic accident a year earlier. When police take an interest in the boy next door, Carl, he and Flora have to act fast to solve the mystery. Soon Flora and a small group of friends find themselves at the onset of an apocalyptic battle between man and nature, with no one believing their story.

My Inspiration

I love being in nature. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed going for walks in the woods or by the sea. Whether in Sweden or in Pennsylvania, Germany or in Asia, I seek out nature. When we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, we loved the people, the culture and stunning surroundings. But city life could be hard because of serious air pollution.

After four years in Jakarta, we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where there was less pollution. We also lived closer to nature and could go for long walks in the verdant jungle. I often pondered what it would take for mankind to take climate change even more seriously. Then it hit me: what if nature started to strike back? I looked at the huge trees surrounding us in the jungle, and the idea for The NI Revolution took form in my mind.

The Characters

The main characters of The Lightning Tree came to me around the same time that the plot emerged in my mind. Two tragically separated sisters who develop some sort of contact through supernatural means, because they are so close in their hearts. They are a kind of metaphor for how close mankind and nature are. Living side by side but not really communicating. 

I loved writing the relationships in the story. Between the sisters Flora and Fauna, between Flora and Carl (swoon!), Flora and her mother Ava, and also, between Flora and nature. I fell in love with all of them and it was actually hard to write “the end” when I finished the third book. 

I can’t wait for Flora, Fauna, Carl and all the others to be out in the world so you can meet them!

Love,
Lene

P.S Here is a link to Amazon where you can pre-order The Lightning Tree e-book!

(The physical book will be available for pre-order in a few weeks time.)

Cover Reveal

Friends, I am beyond excited to share the cover for my novel The Lightning Tree with you! This is the first installment of a YA trilogy that will be out March 29, 2022.

Andrew Davis, the cover artist, has captured so much of the story in his design, and I was completely floored when I first saw it. I hope you like it!

Thank you all for cheering me on while writing this novel and trilogy! Your support has meant so much to me and I am happy that I can finally introduce you to the characters of The Lightning Tree.

And finally, an introduction to the story:

Flora Reed discovers a lifeless body in her front yard the morning after the last day of her junior year of high school. Matters get worse when more people from her small town are found dead under mysterious circumstances and police take an interest in the boy next door, Carl. Flora is convinced that Carl is innocent. Instead, she suspects that the deaths are somehow connected to her younger sister Fauna’s tragic accident a year earlier. What she learns changes everything and she has to race against time to prevent the killings from spreading. Flora and a small group of friends soon find themselves at the onset of an apocalyptic battle between man and nature, with no one believing their story.

The Lightning Tree is the first installment of The Natural Intelligence Revolution Trilogy.

More to come soon!

Love,

Lene

In Full Swing

I DID IT!

I finally finished my big writing project that I have been working on for the past four years! Such an amazing feeling! I have been hard at work for months to complete the editing, and I can finally say that I. AM. DONE. (Well, a text is always subjected to tweaks right up until publication, but you know what I mean…)

This is a project that I have loved writing though, and it feels a little empty now that I don’t get to ‘visit’ the people and places of the story every day. I know they’re fictional, but I have been close to these ‘people’ for four years now, so they’re starting to feel like family. 🙂

Ok, so maybe it’s time for me to reveal a little about this project, with emphasis on ‘little’, he he. I will reveal everything in good time, but for now, I’ll say that it is a Young Adult trilogy, taking place in the near future, in a fictional town close to the small town in Pennsylvania where we lived in the US. There are dystopian elements for sure, and action, drama, friendship, tragedy, love, and some horror in these high impact books whose titles I will not reveal at this time.

It took me about a year to write each of the books, and then an additional year to edit and tighten the whole trilogy so that everything fits together. It has been such a challenge and such a JOY to write these books that are close to my heart. I am sure that I was inspired to write YA by my two daughters who were 17 and 15 when I started the trilogy, and who both are avid readers. One of the challenges was to write in English, my second language, but it felt like the most natural option considering that the story takes place in the US, and that we at the time lived in an, to a large extent, American expat community in Kuala Lumpur.

My literary agent and I are now assessing the best way forward for this project, but I can tell you with certainty that the books will be available to readers in a not too distant future!

Aaaah, I can’t wait to tell you EVERYTHING!! I’m just so excited for this trilogy and I can’t wait to show it all to you! Until then I have planned a summer full of poetry and painting and long walks by the ocean, while I plot my next book…

What are you up to this summer? Will you stay home, or travel somewhere, depending on the restrictions in your area? We will stay home, but we’re cautiously optimistic about traveling to Spain in the fall to visit my parents. Hopefully we can make it happen, but it’s hard to plan things these days. I’m still clinging to my list of ‘Hopes’ that I told you about in my last blog post. One of them was to finish the trilogy, and I DID IT! In essence, my hope was that this year would be all about creativity and I am happy to report that creation is in full swing!

Love,

Lene

A Hope to Create

Happy Holidays, everyone! How are you doing? This has been a strange and difficult year, to say the least.

In the middle of the pandemic, we moved from Kuala Lumpur and back home to Sweden. We landed in March, and enjoyed the light spring evenings and then the beautiful Swedish summer (I took the photo a few minutes’ walk from our new home). But I have to tell you, now it’s getting a bit chilly! It’s still beautiful though, I love the humid, foggy climate here on the Swedish west coast, often magical this time of year with the naked trees wrapped in thin veils of mist.

As the year nears its end, it’s time for me to choose a new theme word for the coming year. In fact, I’ve already got one in mind that has stemmed from a place of longing in my heart for quite some time now. 

For the last two years I have chosen the simple, but powerful theme word: “Work”. And I have worked hard at honing my craft; to be able to write under challenging circumstances, with or without inspiration, sharpening my discipline. However, at the end of these two years, it all started to feel a lot like just… work. I felt I needed to find my way back to the joy of creating.

So, for 2021, my theme word will be: “Create”. And it has already boosted my enthusiasm and energy! I have picked up long neglected paintbrushes and paint and started painting again, inspired by long walks by the ocean. I can’t even describe how much joy this gives me! And concerning my writing, I am inching closer to reaching my goal in 2021. Hopefully, I can finish this project and finally tell you all about it!

Hope is another word that I feel will define the coming year; instead of making plans for 2021, I have written a list of “hopes”. One thing we have learned during this past year, is that plans can be changed drastically and without warning. There are still a lot of questions about how and when things might go back to something resembling normalcy after the pandemic, and meanwhile I can draw comfort from my list of “hopes”, hoping they might one day come true. One of these hopes is to be able to visit my parents who are living in Spain, and another is to finally finish my big writing project. I also wish to write more poetry and keep painting, making next year into a year of bustling creativity!

I also hope for all of us to be healthy and happy and surrounded by love and support, finding joy in the days as they come.

What are your wishes and hopes for 2021?

Hugs and take care,

Lene 

Work, Recharge and More Work

This time of year, I like to think back on the year we’re about to leave behind, as well as the possibilities of the one ahead. A few years ago, I started a tradition that has stuck with me: to choose a theme word in the beginning of the year to guide and inspire me as I pursue my goals.

2019 has seen big changes in our family, with our oldest daughter moving to Sweden in January. The rest of us went back to Sweden in the summer to attend the wonderful wedding ceremony and reception as she married our dear son-in-law, and then we went to Boston to help our youngest daughter settle into her five-week Berklee music college program. My husband and I also bought a new house in our hometown, before going back to Malaysia after an intense summer! The end of the year finds us all reunited here in Kuala Lumpur for the high school graduation of our youngest and to celebrate the holidays together.

We just came home from spending a couple of days in Pangkor Laut, a tropical island just off the Malaysian west coast, which is one of our favourite places to unwind from the stressful city life.

My theme word for 2019 was “work”, which served me well as I worked hard to finish my book manuscript in between all of these happy occasions and travels. With this latest manuscript, I have reached my goal of writing one book every year for these past four years. Which brings me to my theme word for the next year, which I have decided will simply be a repetition of last year’s: work.

I feel that after a few weeks of recharge during the holidays, I am ready to dive back into writing and editing with all the passion I have for this wonderful craft that I love. Yay! I can’t wait to tell you more about my latest project, but this is all I can share for now…

One thing that I can share, is that we are preparing to move back to Sweden in the spring, which will be a huge change for us after eight years in Asia. I am a bit anxious about the move, even though I consider myself a veteran of moving overseas at this point… I am very happy that we already have our new house in place, so that one big thing is already taken care of.

We are all looking forward to seeing our friends and family back home on a regular basis, as well as enjoying Swedish food and nature, both of which we have also missed dearly.

Wishing you joy and health in abundance in the coming year, with strength and energy to fulfill your dreams,

Love,

Lene

The Magical Words

When our girls were small and the days whirled by in a daze of everyday stress and mess, we tried to squeeze in some quality parenting as often as our sleep-deprived brains could muster. One of the principles we felt was important to teach them, was gratitude. So when they got something nice from someone, we had a gentle way of nudging them to remember to show gratitude: “What are the magical words?” we would ask them. “Thank you!” they shouted with their light voices and giggled.

Even though our girls are not little anymore, every now and then I’m reminded of this principle: the importance of gratitude, but also, the importance of words themselves. I believe that when we think, or say thank you, we feel more grateful, and the more we recognize things to be grateful for; the more of them we find.

I, like many of us, have had my fair share of dark days, and sometimes it really seems impossible to look for rays of light. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and tell ourselves: This too shall pass. Then those words carry us through the darkness. This is something I have often marvelled at; words’ nearly magical power to change our moods and even our lives. Words like: I love you, and Will you marry me, and even simple words like: Yes or No can change our lives in an instant. There is a chasm between words like: I can do this and I will never make it.

When I write my novels, and perhaps even more when I write poetry, I ponder every word: its place in the sentence, all the other words I could have used, down to every little comma and punctuation mark. When building fictional worlds for the mind to wander, the words are the brushstrokes and the colors, breathing life into the scenes and the characters; they are truly magical.

In this season of change in our family, I’m grateful for the new gifts that are coming into our lives: an upcoming wedding for our oldest daughter, an amazing son-in-law, an exciting summer for our youngest; studying music at her dream college, and to top it all off, my husband and I bought a house!

We stumbled upon a beach bungalow in our home town of Gothenburg that checked all our boxes, and somehow we managed to buy it all the way from Kuala Lumpur. We haven’t seen it in real life yet, only pictures and videos, but after nearly eight years in Asia, we’re excited to be able to go back to Sweden more often to visit. And a house by the ocean! If you’ve followed my blog, you know I have dreamed about a house by the sea for years and years. The house we bought even comes with “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf put it: a studio for me to write and create in. Perhaps I can pick up the passion of my youth again, painting sweeping seascapes of the ocean.

I look forward to continue to chase the magical words in our little beach bungalow; to wander down to the beach and to find my favorite spot among the cliffs by the sea. To look out to the horizon and wonder at the many miracles and hardships that brought me there. To breathe in the salty air and to exhale a quiet thank you.

Love,

Lene

Find Your Path

Since I wrote my last blog post: This Will Be Interesting, I’ve had a very “interesting” couple of months. Without going into details, let’s suffice it to say that last year was not my best one, but by no means my worst.

All in all, 2018 was a good year, but at the same time a string of disappointments, the one after the other, forced me to put my own advice to practice.

Determined to learn from my disappointments, I have forged on, with my eyes fixed on the future, and refused to dwell on the things that didn’t go my way. And now I am very happy that I did, since I now have a brand new book manuscript ready, which I wrote and edited during the last four months of the year. I have been stretching myself, working on such elements as speed and determination to reach my goal.

And I have learned all over again, that no matter how much other people’s paths to success may inspire, they’re never truly compatible to my own life. I have to find my own path, listen to my own voice, my own heart.

My focus words for 2018 were determination, resilience and patience, and boy, did I need all of these attributes! This year, I will focus on walking steadily down *my* path, and not be distracted by what other people are doing and their choices.

I think that when you’re working in a creative field, there’s always a danger of being pulled down by doors that are slammed in your face, rejections, and even people who try to tear you down. That’s why it’s extra important not to listen to the voices that tell you that you can’t, but instead listen to your heart that tells you that you can.

When you truly want to create something that wasn’t there before, you are always in a sense alone, and you have to find your own path and walk down it with determination. After all, the vision is yours, and the nay-sayers can perhaps glimpse it, but never fully see it until you have materialised it with your own hard work.

These past couple of months, I have also focused on not getting my motivation from outside validation, but to find my energy and joy from the work, the writing, itself. And this has been my best lesson from 2018! I found such tremendous joy in writing this last book manuscript, and I feel more confident and happy with my effort, than any outside validation could have given me. A deep sense of achievement, which no one can take away, because I found my own path through the disappointments, and came out stronger on the other side.

As we’re entering this new year, I’m wishing you boundless joy and fulfillment, dear friends! Let’s walk down our paths with confidence and a spring in our steps!

Love,

Lene

P.S. I snapped the picture as I was walking down to the beach in Tanjong Jara, on the Malaysian East coast. I just love the view of the little pathway and the stairs leading down to the water. Discovering this beautiful place was definitely one of the highlights of 2018.


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