Friday, 26 March 2010

The Literature Week in Gothenburg

I was one of about thirty Swedish authors who took part at the Literature Week in Gothenburg. It's an yearly event where authors of children's and Young Adult fiction visit schools to talk about their books and their writing.

The fifteen-year-olds that I met at Kärralundsskolan were good at both listening and asking questions. Some people have said that my first novel, Punkindustriell hårdrockare med attityd doesn't have a proper plot, but I explained that some books are character driven rather than plot driven. The protagonist Amanda is very insecure and is feeling at bit left out at school. This has nothing to do with her family. I'm fed up with the common theme that in order to feel bad about yourself it has to be a big reason behind it, e.g. one of your parents have died, your mum is an alchoholic or your dad is mentally ill. I think it's enough to be a teenager to feel bad.

Amanda is 16 and has never been drunk, has bever been kissed, has never had a boyfriend and has never had sex. For me these were really big issues when I grew up and that's why I wanted to write about it. So the plot is based on Amanda's anxiety around these rituals and how she goes through them and deals with them. I told the teenagers that it's important to remember that everybody develops in their own time and that some have sex when they are thirteen and for others it doesn't happen until they are in their twenties. Nothing is right or wrong ...

On the Wednesday night all authors were invited to an evening where everybody had five minutes to present themselves to librarians and teachers in the Gothenburg area. It was nervwracking, but hopefully it'll lead to more invites to talk at schools and libraries in the future. It was also a great thing for me to meet Per Nilsson and Katarina Kieri whom are two Swedish writers I really admire. It's a surreal feeling that someone you look up to has read your book and liked it ...

All in all I really enjoyed my time in Gothenburg. Most of the other authors have been doing this for years and they laughed at my enthusiasm about staying at a hotel with all expenses paid ... I hope I'll get invited to loads and loads of things in the future, but that I can still be grateful about sleeping in a bed with clean white sheets and having a massive buffet breakfast.

I was lucky with the weather too as the headlines cried out that it were the warmest days in Gothenburg this year. Yet there were ice and snow left in some places ...

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