In the Footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen

Yesterday I managed to do my first post-lockdown trip, which also doubled as book research 🙂

The quarantine has been weird for me for more reasons than the usual. While most people got stuck in their hometowns, I had just relocated and got stuck in a city (and country!) where I’ve never lived before and knew hardly anyone. Can’t complain though; Copenhagen is far from the worst city to get stuck in, and I was able to work from home, so my job was fine. Still, now that things in Denmark are stable, it felt good to hop on the train and leave the city for a day, and combining the trip with book research made it even better!


Now that I’ve completed the Throne of Blood draft on my side and can’t do much more than wait for editorial feedback, I’ve started work on a brand new book.

It’s a historical fantasy based on several of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales and personal life. And while the novel is set mostly in early 19th-century Copenhagen, with a few detours into the Swedish wilderness, I thought it also made sense to visit the author’s hometown, Odense:


Everything in Odense is connected to H.C. Andersen!

You can see the house where he was born:


The view from the house where he was born:


The house where he lived as a child:


The charity school for the poor he attended:


Even the spot in the river where his mother washed his clothes:


This may look like an ordinary Protestant church, but it’s very important:


That’s where H.C. Andersen had his confirmation. Confirmations are huge in Denmark. I honestly didn’t know much about the ritual before moving here and was puzzled why a religious sacrament would be so important in such a secular society. I asked the locals, and the answer was, “It’s when kids grow up and confirm they want to stay in the church, and when they say ‘yes,’ their grandparents give them lots of expensive gifts. Kids love it.” Okay… doesn’t sound like the most unbiased way to make a decision, but whatever works.

The casino is also fairytale-themed:


Which fairytale is this from:


Any ideas?

Understandably, Denmark is not 100% out of lockdown yet, and some museums are still closed. Which means, I have to go again! But for now, I’ve collected enough info to keep me writing while waiting for better days.


My new book currently has the working title Girl of Salt and Foam, but this is subject to change. To be honest, I think titles like “The Girl of [something] and [something]” are super overdone at the moment, and don’t want to contribute to the cliche, but it really fits. So let’s keep it for now until I come up with something better 🙂

12 thoughts on “In the Footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen

  1. Think it is a great idea that you went to visit the places where Hans Christian Andersen grew up. You have to have a better understanding of him now and probably caught glimpses of how he created some of his characters. Good luck on your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot! I think so too, in general it’s a great help to understand where an author came from and how it helped shape their works. In H.C.Andersen’s case, he grew up in poverty with his mother, but even after he established himself as a respected writer, he remained an outcast. And so many of his characters are outcasts or not fitting in–the Steadfast Tin Soldeir is missing a leg, the Little Mermaid doesn’t have human legs to walk on (and a human soul!), the Ugly Duckling is different from its parents and siblings. There are many theories that he saw himself in this type of characters. The other common element is impossible love stories, which, again, is a reflection of his own life. Trying to capture all of that in my book, as much as I can!


  2. I am so excited for this book you are working on!! I have recently become obsessed with HC Andersen fairy tales. They are quite different than Grimms, Arabian Nights, and some of the other famous fairy tale collections we think of etc… I would love to visit where he grew up one day. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • HC Andresen’s tales are unique, aren’t they? Most fairy tale collections are just retellings of folk tales, and you see the same common themes and elements across times and cultures, which is quite fascinating. But Andersen wrote all his tales from scratch, based on his life and experiences, and they have a completely different feel. His own life wasn’t easy, even after he became a respected author and became financially secure, he was ridiculed by his contemporaries for being “childish”. He struggled with unrecruited love and with being unable to pursue his big dream to become a ballet player since he was too tall. We see glimpses of his life and struggles in his tales and characters and he truly created a magical world.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t read his autobiography yet, though I certainly plan to! So far, I’ve visited a couple of museums dedicated to his life and collected bits and pieces of his history. And now I’ve lived in Denmark for a bit over half a year, and I keep learning new things about him from the locals. He’s HUGE here. Nearly everyone had to learn about him in school, or had to write papers about his life. And every once in a while, you get to meet people who know someone who knew someone related to his family (he lived in the 19th century, which is just a few generations removed when you think about it!)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wow that is so amazing!! That would feel even more personal to read his tales while also hearing stories about his life. I just bought my first collection of fairy tales that are solely Hans Christian Anderson. I realized I’ve only read his most famous ones, so I’m really excited to dive into some lesser known ones.


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