Meet Ellen Støkken Dahl - Selected Title Author

We are happy to present our selected title author Ellen Støkken Dahl. She has written Sleeping With the Enemy – Terrifying Tales About Sexually Transmitted Infections (original title: I seng med fienden. Eller Venus’ forbannelser, skrekkelige fortellinger om kjønnssykdommer).
The book is one of NORLA’s Selected Titles of the autumn 2022.

Read our short interview with Ellen here.

Dahl, ellen støkken photo anne valeur web
Ellen Støkken Dahl. Photo: Anne Valeur

What inspired you to write this book?

Sexually transmitted infections have always fascinated me. As a doctor, I am attracted to the more shame-plagued areas of medicine, partly because I see how a comforting conversation and some warmth can make an enormous difference for patients struggling with shame. I think it is more constructive to do simple measures to protect oneself, like using a condom and testing regularly, than to feel so much shame. It’s nicer to think of contagion as a stroke of misfortune – a part of life, and not some sign that your sex life is over. Shame helps no one, but some patients who contract an STI feel guilt, like there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. After witnessing this up close, I wanted to dive into the subject to comfort people and normalize it. It’s needed!

And then I think that the infections themselves are incredibly exciting! I think of them as the medical field’s thrillers. We’re terrified of them! And working with STIs, and particularly diving into the history of them, fills me with this chilling, terror-tinged joy.

What sets this book apart from other books in the same genre and/or with similar themes?

There have been many medical popular science books in recent years that explain “all about” some organ or disease. I have written one of them myself – The Wonder Down Under. Sleeping with the Enemy stands out because all the material about the sexually transmitted infections is woven into a framework story that is, strictly speaking, literary. Patient after patient visit an eager doctor who is a bit lacking in social intelligence, and through her eyes, the patient gets a unique insight into what happens, or can happen, when doctor and patient meet and a sticky problem needs solving.


Dahl i seng med fienden   forside

Read more

See full presentation of the book here

Read more about the author here

See all NORLA’s Selected Titles for the autumn 2022 here