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Interview with Artist Elin Dieme

"I took three lines from my archives and re-wrote them on postage notes, and stuck them on the wall. I then sat back and started to piece a theme together."

By Cendrine MarrouatPublished 10 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - July 2023
Elin Dieme - Photo courtesy of guest

Today, I have another excellent interview for you. My guest is Elin Dieme

Elin Dieme is a writer, screenwriter, actor, traveler, sailor, and acupressurist living on a remote island on the Pacific Northwest coast. She explores creativity through storytelling based on her travels and personal life lessons.

Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Elin! What triggered your desire to become an artist? Any particular story? And what came first: storytelling, screenwriting, or acting?

Elin Dieme: I have always been an artist - thanks to my mother. When I was growing up, half of our dinner table was always reserved for art supplies. My mother is a full-time artist, and I don't ever remember a day in my life when I didn't understand the importance of creativity. She prioritized art in our family, and I am so grateful.

I believe that everyone is an artist if they are given the opportunity to be. Storytelling came first for me. At 6 years old, I decided that I wanted to write novels when I grew up. I got more fascinated with screening and acting in 2021 and have painted and made art my entire life.

CM: How does creativity speak to you? And how do you approach the writing process, especially as a screenwriter and actor?

ED: I tend to get creative "epiphanies" or "downloads" when I am out in nature the most, and once I start to speak back to the creativity, more of it comes my way. I see creativity as a river and myself as the riverbank; we are always close together. It just depends on whether I am open enough to get out of my mind to notice it.

As a screenwriter, I went through the creative process differently. When I was writing Odota Minua, I knew that the character I would play was based on part of my own life, so I didn't pretend to know how the story would end because I didn't know how my own story would end. I put full faith in knowing that it will work out.

CM: How does living on a remote island influence your storytelling practice?

ED: I grew up on a small island 10 hours off the Pacific Northwest coast called Haida Gwaii. There are about 900 people in my village, and I was born and raised right next to the wilderness. I grew up surrounded by a rich culture of the First Nations Haida peoples and the settlers from all over the world who ended up here.

The island has artists, storytellers, carvers, singers, and creators. The Haida culture is vibrant and rich in its storytelling, art, and cultural practices, and I was really blessed to witness this as a young girl. The remoteness influenced my creativity because I felt safe on the island and in my community, and the importance of art / storytelling / culture was mirrored to me from all around.

CM: You wrote (and are the sole actor in) Odota Minua, an award-winning short film about a young Nordic woman and her relationship with the sea after a traumatic experience. What is the story behind the title?

ED: Odota Minua means 'wait for me' in Finnish. The title came to me halfway through the filming process, and it fits well with the theme of our film.

The main character, Esteri, lost her partner to sea in a tragic accident. The idea of her partner leaving her behind and unable to take her with him speaks loudly about how grief can genuinely feel in losing a partner, either through death or heartbreak. I find there is a very tight correlation between the two, especially if the heartbreak stems from betrayal and abandonment.

My mother said that when I was going through my heartbreak, I acted as if my ex had been killed in an accident. It felt like he was ripped out of my life because he wasn't in my life anymore.

I resonated with the words "wait for me" because that was what I wanted in my darkest moments of grief but never received. In the end, I ended up being the one that waited for me to heal, and I am so glad I did.

Still from Odota Minua - Photo courtesy of guest

Still from Odota Minua - Photo courtesy of guest

CM: You wrote the film in Finnish. Why was it important to you? And how different was the process compared to what you would have done in English?

ED: My Finnish was all I had of my old life; it was the only thing I brought back to Canada when moved home in 2018. I wanted to tribute the film's narration to my time in Finland - because it was also an important chapter in my life that didn't go as I had hoped, similar to this heartbreak. It would have been a very different story in English because the words I wrote for the film were vague. I wanted it to feel poetic. I think the portrayal of emotions I displayed spoke louder than English words. I wanted the grief to feel universal.

CM: I'm intrigued by this quote from your Medium article, titled How My Heartbreak Inspired Me to Create an Award-Winning Short Film: "I let the story unfold as it wanted to, not as I wanted it to. I didn't put pressure on it. The story simply emerged from a few old poetry lines that I had written years ago." Could you tell us more about it?

ED: I didn't know how to start a new film project without drawing inspiration from at least one aspect of my own experience, so I decided to use some sentences from old pieces of my poetry for the film until I knew more about what the story wanted to be.

  • "I feel safer out at sea." (From a poem I wrote in 2014.)
  • "This process is brutally beautiful. Not something a decent human would willingly partake in." (From a story I wrote about heartbreak in 2018."
  • "The winter had frozen me solid, and it seemed the only way to melt again was by plunging into the icy water." (From a poem I wrote in Finland in 2017.)

I took three lines from my archives and re-wrote them on postage notes, and stuck them on the wall. I then sat back and started to piece a theme together.

CM: Odota Minua is the result of your work with Haida director and filmmaker Patrick Shannon. How was the experience, especially as a new actor? What is your favorite memory from the collaboration?

ED: The experience was extremely memorable and very life-changing, both for myself and for Patrick. It was one of his first films he directed and shot that was purely creative. And it was the first film I had ever written or acted in, so we both gained so much from this collaboration.

My favorite memory is when I had to do a scene in the icy January ocean. The only way I could stay in the water for that long was because Patrick kept shouting to me from the shore that there was a hot cheese pizza in the cottage waiting for me. The most physically painful part of the shoot because my favorite memory because it combined: friendship, strength, joy, and victory. And pizza.

Still from Odota Minua - Photo courtesy of guest

CM: Has using your personal journey through depression and grief to make this short film helped you as a person? If so, why do you think it is the case?

ED: Yes, it has really helped me as a person. This film felt like a ladder I used to climb out of a deep hole I had fallen into. A hole that I was suffering in for about four months straight. I didn't go into town. I stayed in my room. I wasn't able to eat properly. I was isolating myself on purpose and having trouble feeling like myself. I didn't understand how much heartbreak could knock me down, and I felt utterly rattled by the grief.

I didn't feel like I could help myself in that depression. There was a hazy gray film over my life, and I felt terrible for feeling that way because I knew how fortunate and lucky I was. I knew how precious life is, but the grief, pain, and heartbreak made me feel like life was unbearable; until I started writing this film. I poured my heart into this piece, and in exchange, I got my heart back. I felt lifted out of my own struggle and that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

CM: What is one of your quirks that you feel makes you unique among your peers?

ED: I find this question somewhat tricky to answer because I think everyone is so unique. But if I had to say something, it would be that I grew up on a very wild and remote island under Alaska, a six-hour ferry ride from the mainland. I lived away from cellphones, movie theatres, fast food, shopping malls, and the convenient yet chaotic realities of living on the mainland. This helped me have a clearer mind growing up as a child. I felt safe and connected to my community. There was not a day in my childhood when I wasn't creative.

CM: What do you want people to learn from your work?

ED: That adventure is still possible.

That hearts can heal.

That creativity is for everyone.

Still from Odota Minua - Photo courtesy of guest

CM: According to you, what role do filmmakers and storytellers play in society? And do you see that role evolving in the near future?

ED: I love this question because filmmakers and storytellers play a massive societal role. Humans have always valued stories and the importance of conveying emotions, lessons, and experiences. It is essential for our lives. Stories help us relate, connect, learn, and grow.

Chauvet Cave is a perfect example of this. 34,000 years ago in France, humans decided that there was a story worth documenting enough to etch onto a stone wall. Humans have had an innate desire to tell stories for thousands of years, and I don't see this desire fading anytime soon. It's crucial to who we are.

CM: Anything else people should know?

I am a writer on Medium, where I post regularly on topics such as travel, creativity, and personal growth. I am available for freelance work and can be reached at [email protected]. I look forward to working on more projects and continuing to live a creative life. Thank you so much for reading my story.

Support Elin Dieme's work!

That's it for today! Thank you for reading!


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Cendrine Marrouat is a writer, photographer, podcaster, blogger, anthology editor, and the co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms and A Warm Cup of Cozy. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 books, including The Train: A Short Story (2023), In Her Own Words: A Collection of Short Stories & Flashku (2022), After the Fires of Day: Haiku Inspired by Kahlil Gibran & Alphonse de Lamartine (2021), Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku (2020), Walks: A Collection of Haiku (2019-2020), and In the Silence of Words: A Three-Act Play (2018).

Cendrine's work has appeared in many publications. She is the creator of the Sixku, Flashku, Sepigram, and Reminigram; as well as the co-creator of the Kindku, Pareiku, Vardhaku, and Hemingku.


About the Creator

Cendrine Marrouat

Writer & Author⎜Photographer⎜Artist⎜Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms / A Warm Mug of Cozy⎜(Co-)creator of literary forms

"The Train: A Short Story" is out!



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Comments (9)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred9 months ago

    Great interview , lots of interesting interaction

  • Sheena Docas10 months ago


  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Cendrine, your interview with Elin was wonderful!!! Beautifully and eloquently providing a glimpse of a creative snd talented artist!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Gerald Holmes10 months ago

    Very interesting read. Thank you for introducing me to Elin Dieme's work! Congrats on the Top Story.

  • Cathy holmes10 months ago

    Great interview. Congrats on the TS

  • Melissa Ingoldsby10 months ago

    Excellent interview! This was such a fascinating and intriguing artist!

  • Ashley Lima10 months ago

    Wow, what an interesting interview. I loved learning about Elin's creative process and her comments about "epiphanies/downloads" spoke to me. The stills from her films are gorgeous. Can't wait to check them out. Nice work

  • Sheila L. Chingwa10 months ago

    Interesting interview. I understand the stance taken. Thanks!

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