I’m writing a novel called Forbidden Pleasures; the secret lives of Lord and Lady Cardale.
The story is set in early Victorian London, 1850 to be precise, which may seem an unusual choice for a Nordic writer, and people have asked why I don’t write crime novels like every other Scandinavian and Icelandic writers seem to be doing at the moment, while others have voiced their surprise at my choice of location and period, as I’m not British.
I chose the year 1850 for a number of reasons, but particularly due to my interest in the conflict between accepted sexual morality of that time and what was actually taking place behind closed doors. As for being foreign, I tend to reply that I feel strengthened by being an outsider, as that position allows me to be more observant and honest about what I find, whilst not being restrained by pre-conceived ideas about how early Victorian life was and how it should be written about.
As a Nordic writer, I am able to write about emotions and sexuality, realistically and with raw honesty, and therefore lend new eyes and a new voice to well trodden but enduringly popular ground.
My story tells of a love-triangle between Lord and Lady Cardale and Melrose, the woman working for them as a wet-nurse for their infant daughter. Lord Cardale secretly and obsessively collects pornographic drawings, and when he learns of new material in the form of pornographic photographs coming from France, he is determined to acquire some for his collection, oblivious to the impact that his quest will have on his life and of those around him.
It is a story of love, sexual obsession, and betrayal of three very different people who have been brought together by marriage and employment, but each have their own agenda, desires and secrets.
I wanted to explore and challenge the notion that sexuality is one thing or another; but explore how sexuality is a fluid and un-categorisable part of being human, not only today in our sexually liberated society, but that it always was, even when restrained and restricted by the morals and values of society. I wanted to show that human nature is no different today than it was hundred and fifty years ago.