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Interview: Keri Bloomfield talks about Nothing Like a Dane

Keri Bloomfield is a Kiwi mum in Denmark and a witty observer of cultural nuances. Born in Upper Hutt she now lives in Copenhagen with a Dane, their daughter and far too many bakeries. She enjoys confusing others with New Zealand slang while wrestling with her lifetime commitment to speaking Danish. Keri talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Nothing Like a Dane.

Nothing Like a Dane shares the reality of becoming a foreigner and having to create a new life in a faraway land. From integration interrogations to rye bread misdemeanours (how to make lunch is a serious sport in Denmark) and all the other cringe worthy cultural mishaps along the way.

Sprinkled throughout the book you’ll also find 60 or so insights into life in Denmark.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had two motivations for writing Nothing Like a Dane. The first was to share the reality of what it’s like to become a foreigner in someone else’s country. And secondly, I wrote it to make my own life in a faraway country count. If I must live 18,000kms away from my home country, then I wanted to turn that challenge into something positive and create something I wouldn’t have otherwise done. Which is how ‘Nothing Like a Dane’ came to life.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

Surprisingly my bike played an important role in the writing process. Living in Copenhagen I spend a lot of time on it and it’s where many of my ideas for ‘Nothing Like a Dane’ popped into my head. I can often be found scribbling in my notebook as soon as I jump off my bike to capture the thought before I forget it again. I’ll then dig out my notebook and begin expanding those scribbled notes into the manuscript - crafting and teasing them out into full scenes in the evening after my daughter has gone to bed.

What are three differences between life in Denmark and New Zealand that people might not know?

Here’s three fun facts for you about life in Denmark:

1. Babies take their naps outside in Denmark. You can often spot prams with sleeping babies in communal yards, on balconies and at nurseries. Fresh air is seen as a major health benefit as well as the babies ‘just sleep better’ outside.

2. Danishes are not Danishes in Denmark. They’re called Wienerbrød, a name given by the Austrian bakers from Vienna (spelt ‘Wien’ in Danish), who first introduced them to Denmark.

3. Childcare for 0–5-year-olds in Denmark is impressively subsidised by the government. Costing approximately NZD$500 per month for a 5-year-old (including lunch).

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Without a doubt it would have to include ‘This is My Life’ by the late and much-loved Danish artist Kim Larsen. Search it out, its guaranteed to get the emotions going. And ‘I am so happy for my bicycle (jeg er så glad for min cykel)’ by Povl Kjøller.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing yourself and The Dane?

A long conversation was had just the other night on this very topic. As a group we settled on either Melanie Lynskey or Rose McIver to play myself and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for The Dane.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this memoir?

It gave me a great opportunity to connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise. From fellow creatives who shared their wisdom and encouraged me on this journey, to the fantastic community I have created through my social media accounts of likeminded people.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I came ‘home’. After three long years away (which was the same amount of time it took me to write and publish the book) I booked a trip back to New Zealand to visit my family. Which seemed like the perfect reason to hold a celebratory shindig in Wellington last week to celebrate the New Zealand launch of Nothing Like a Dane.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

The year is young, but so far, the winner for me has been Jacqueline Bublitz's, Before You Knew My Name. Her unique way of telling the story, through the viewpoint of the deceased main character hooked me in.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

After Nothing Like a Dane, comes Nothing Like a Kiwi. The memoir of what happens when you’ve been living outside of New Zealand for so long that you begin to realise that despite all the initial integration struggles you are no longer as Kiwi as you once were.

Photo credit: Andrew Turner


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