All photographs have been provided by Hanna Andersson and the copyright remains with her.
I have been a reader my whole life, and my childhood homes were always filled with books. Sometimes I used them to build houses for my toys. But mostly, I read them.
I read on road trips, I asked my parents to read to me as I fell asleep, and I read during breaks at school.
For me, a home is filled with bookshelves, and I am so grateful for all the books that I have skimmed through over the years.
I devoured books about horses, adventures, first loves, bullying, sex, and death. And I liked to read books over and over. My mum sometimes told me that I needed to stop reading the same books, but I thought that I could find something new every time I dived into one of my favourites. I did. There was always a character or a conversation that had more to it than when I first read it.
It’s because of all these books, and all these imaginary adventures, that I became a writer.
I have always wanted to write, and I have had great authors to look up to on my way towards my dream.
My first and forever favourite author is Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, Ronja, Emil in Lönneberga and Brother Lionheart. She will always have a special place in my heart. I have been fascinated by her since I was a little girl, a little girl with red hair who wanted to be Pippi Longstocking, who somehow liked her freckles and red hair and who would stand up against evil.
“I have more freckles and I am more beautiful than ever. If I keep this up I am going to end up irresistible,” Krumelurpiller, 81
Astrid has been dead for 16 years now, I was only 10 when she passed, but I remember when it happened as my whole family were grieving. We listened to her stories on old cassette tape and talked about our favourite moments.
I love Astrid’s stories. I still read them today, and I have a little collection with quotes from her tales which I take out whenever I need inspiration.
Another Swedish author that I look up to is Fredrik Backman.
Fredrik Backman has written bestselling books such as A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry and I have been following his journey for years. He’s an amazing writer. He’s funny, relatable, and writes about important topics. When I write in my native Swedish tongue I look to his way of writing, and to his audience, for guidance.
I am a massive Potterhead, and a member of Gryffindor thank you very much.
The Harry Potter world and J.K. Rowling have been one of my biggest sources for inspiration throughout the years and actually one of the reason I was drawn to the UK.
I brought my Harry Potter books to school, the covers fell off and pages ripped, but I kept bringing them. I read them and dreamt about a universe where I also went to Olivanders to buy a wand and to pick put the perfect brown owl to bring to Hogwarts. I loved disappearing into the pages and I still do today.
J.K. Rowling has inspired me to build my own world, and how to keep track of all the strings in the writing process. I am also inspired by her journey, how she had nothing; a single mother who was rejected over and over again, and who now is one of the most influencing people in the world.
Another writer that has inspired me is one of my university lecturers, Leone Ross. Leone writes stories filled with passion, sex, quirkiness, problematic relationships, and humour. She has taught me how to write about sex in a relaxed way, either explicit or not explicit, and I have also been lucky enough to interview her for my university magazine. She is honest and brutal, in the best kind of way, and her short story collection Come Let Us Sing Anyway is truly wonderful.
I must also mention Alice Munro. She was the author who first introduced me to short stories. I remember reading the first one of her collection Too Much Happiness and how I was left gobsmacked, shocked, and with eyes full of tears. That short story had the biggest effect on me and I will always remember that feeling. This experience reminds me of Stephen Kings quote, “A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”
This leads me to books that have inspired me. Too Much Happiness was one of the first short story collection I ever read, and I am so happy that that’s where I begun. It taught me how much can fit within an extract of someone’s life, someone’s destiny, and how much fun it is to both read and write this type of story.
I often write about human relationships and I think this is a reflection of the many stories I read as a young teenager. I remember one story, Min Ella (My Ella), written by Kajsa Isakson, which was about a girl who moved school, and hated everything. She starts writing letters to a two-year older girl at the same school, and thinks the letter never will be read. It’s a great story about the struggles in life, how it sucks to be a teenager, and that sometimes you find comfort where it’s not expected.
The Old Man And The Sea was the first Hemmingway book I ever read. His writing has taught me a lot about tempo and minimalism. This might have influenced me a bit too much, since I often write stories without drama, or, rather, the drama is low key.
Beartown was written by, previously mentioned, Fredrik Backman, and it is a story about a small town with a big conflict. It discovers how tradition, sport, and community affects the way you see wrong doing and how many people protect the villain rather than the victim. It’s about society, sport, families, homophobia and love, seen from characters of all ages.
This is Backman’s first story about Beartown and the hockey club within it, and I recommend everyone to read his work.
“It’s like her mum says when the cold and darkness have worn at her patience and she’s had three or four glasses of wine: ‘You can’t live in this town, Maya, you can only survive it.’
Neither of them has any idea just how true that is.” – Beartown, 13