Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hello from Viking’s new editor Ann Pedersen

As you probably read last week, Sons of Norway's Viking magazine has had a change in editors. In a post last Wednesday, long-time editor Amy Boxrud bid a fond farewell as she began an exciting new chapter in her life. And, as Amy mentioned in her last post, Viking has a new editor, Ann Pedersen, and we at Sons of Norway are very excited to welcome her to the magazine. We also would like to  introduce her to you, our dedicated readers. What follows is a post written by Ann about her background and connection to Norwegian heritage and culture.

Viking magazine: there were probably copies lying around on side tables at my grandparents’ farmhouse in western Minnesota when I was a kid. I confess I don’t remember. But the story of how they met at a Sons of Norway lodge meeting in 1937—and then eloped—is front and center in our family lore. They remained Sons of Norway members for their whole lives, and their pride in their Norwegian heritage was as much a part of them as the wheat they planted in the fields. Little could any of us have known that years later I would be writing—and now editor—for Viking.

My entre to Viking began when my good friend and Viking editor Amy Boxrud approached me to write a feature about progressive prisons in Norway (May 2011). Knowing nothing about prisons or the justice system in Norway, I accepted and dug into the research. It was the beginning of a wonderful writing adventure and collaboration with the magazine; the 1612 Battle of Kringen feature followed (August 2012), then the stave church feature “Cathedrals of Wood” (April 2013). The story of the Sloopers of 1825 and their ship The Restauration just came out in the October 2013 issue.

My familiarity with the magazine gets down to the nitty-gritty as well: I have been a freelance proofreader for Viking since 2011, assuring that all the glorious details of punctuation, grammar, usage and style are accurate. It’s an assignment I have always looked forward to, and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every issue and feature, and I always learn something new.

My discovery of my own Nordic heritage began when I was six years old: when my parents packed up their two kids in the early 1970s and took us on a trip to Scandinavia. It was unforgettable, even for a six-year-old, and not your typical family vacation at the time. I find it interesting to reflect on now in light of Viking’s feature on traveling with children in the upcoming January 2014 issue. 

Back at home in St. Paul, Mn., Nordic traditions were part and parcel of growing up:  knitting and baking, hiking and biking. My parents both spoke a little Norwegian (and Danish) and pursued their family histories and genealogy with passion. Herring, lefse, fruit soup, and rice pudding were among the Nordic regulars on our holiday tables--always with a frozen bottle of akvavit at the center and a steady stream of stories.

I graduated from St. Olaf College with a double major in English and Norwegian, then earned a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing at Hollins College in Roanoke, Va. After working as a production editor at a Minneapolis publishing company, I worked as freelance editor from home while raising my three daughters. I have had the good fortune to travel to Norway with my daughters both in 2008 and in 2011. I still love to knit and bake, hike and bike, and I’ve added Nordic folk music to the family traditions, occasionally playing with the local Nordic Roots session and attending the annual Nisswa-stammen in Nisswa, Mn. My husband, also a descendant of Norwegian immigrants, serves up a mean genealogy and when he’s not researching family and local history, he’s in the woods with hand tools, currently building an authentic Norwegian timber-framed sauna.

Amy Boxrud leaves me with a beautifully crafted magazine and big editorial shoes to fill! Together with the team at Sons of Norway, she and art director Jill Adler and associate editor Anya Britzius have passionately pursued content, art and photos that both celebrate Nordic history and heritage and explore the exciting culture of modern Norway.

I raise my virtual glass of akvavit to Amy on her wonderful legacy at Viking. Skål Amy! I’m honored to take the helm and I look forward to working with the Viking editorial team and everyone at Sons of Norway to bring you more fresh, interesting and beautiful content about this wonderful Norwegian culture and heritage we all share.

Ann Pedersen is a freelance writer and editor of Viking magazine. She lives in St. Paul, Mn., with her husband and three daughters.

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