This is my attempt to answer the questions that are most frequently asked. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, contact me on social media and I’ll try to help.
If you have questions specifically about the Engelsfors trilogy, here is where you’ll find answers!
Why did you become a writer?
I have always loved books, even as a kid. I am very grateful that my parents let me read as many books as I wanted to. Writing has become just as important to me as reading. It feels much easier for me to express myself in writing. I am not the type to tell drawn out, detailed stories at a dinner party but when I write, I can explore thoughts and feelings. I can make myself understood.
When did you write your first book?
I wrote my autobiography when I was five, haha! It was simply called MATS. When I was sixteen-seventeen I wrote my first novel, and it was actually almost published. It was a terrible book, a carbon copy of everything I loved at the time; Stephen King, V C Andrews, Bret Easton Ellis and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer. Lots of sex, drugs and ballerinas! It was a terrible book, and I would have become really obnoxious if I had been a published writer in my teens… I tried writing other novels through the years, but in 2004 I started freelancing as a journalist and columnist. That was when I wrote what would later become my debut novel; Hunting Season.
Do you have any other jobs?
At the moment, no. My books are doing well enough, which is an enormous luxury. I am very lucky. It was very different in the beginning. Considering the time it took to write my first three books, and the tiny amounts of money they made, they were like a very expensive hobby. But I didn’t care. I was just so happy to be published.
How do you come up with your ideas?
It often starts with one small idea and grows from there. The idea for Blood Cruise came to me when I was on a cruise ship. Those long corridors with wall-to-wall carpeting made me think of The Shining. And being stuck on a ship, surrounded by a seemingly endless darkness, made me think of the Alien movies. That’s how my horror brain works. I realized that a cruise ship was a perfect little microcosm that I could fill with many different kinds of people. And I really wanted to try to write a novel that was set in one location, twelve hours.
The Home came to me when several friends had parents suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. They told me about having to be a parent to your own parent. A parent that you no longer recognized. I wanted to explore this through a horror story.
The children’s books about The Monster In The Night came to me when my friends got a fluffy little dog, who throws herself at anyone’s feet and demands to be petted. We started joking about how it can be hard to believe that all dogs are descendants from the wolf, and that got me thinking of the werewolf mythology. What kind of creature would you become if you, instead of being bitten by a wolf, were bitten by a fluffy and honestly quite ridiculous little dog? It wasnät long before I realized that this story could contain bigger themes, like the fear of the unknown, how quickly it spreads and what it does to people.
How do you create your characters?
It is hard to describe. I want characters that have many differences, so that there’s fertile ground for clashes, and different views on what happens to them. I also want characters with both ”good” and ”bad” traits. They should also have defined goals and drives. I try to find out as much as I can about them before I start writing. For example, I make Spotify playlists for them, with music I think they would like. I think about their backgrounds; what their parents were like, what class they belong to, what they were like in school, their political views, stuff like that. The more I know, the more I know how they will react to any given situation. But of course, they also tend to surprise me when I start writing, and that is part of the fun.
What are your best advice on writing?
I don’t believe that there are any ”one size fits all”-type of advice, but here’s what works for me:
- Work on the characters. They are the most important ingredient. If you don’t believe in them, you won’t believe anything in the story. The reader – and you – must want to spend time with them. That doesn’t mean they have to be ”likeable”, but they have to be interesting.
- People sometimes say: ”Write what you know”. That is bullshit. Write about what interests you. Write the book that you would want to read. But do your research.
- At least half of the work is editing. When you have finished writing, you have to add, erase, develop, reshape. Over and over again. I used to hate this process. A writer friend of mine compared it to ”having to dig up an exboyfriend from the grave and make out with him”. I used to share this view on editing, but I was so wrong. Editing is your friend. Editing is sifting through the floods of text to find the book. Learn to love it. This helps you relax while writing the first draft. It doesn’t matter if some passages are complete and utter crap, you’ll fix it later. Just keep on writing.
Do you always know how the book will end when you start writing?
Yes and no. I know where I want to go, but the way to get there can be very unknown. And that is ok.
What do you enjoy the most; writing for kids, young adults or adults?
They are all equally fun and challenging. But there is something special about writing for kids and young adults, since the books you read and love at a young age stay with you forever. They become a part of you.
Do you prefer to write alone or with others?
Both! After the Engelsfors Trilogy, when me and Sara (Bergmark Elfgren) had basically developed a hivemind, it was a lot of fun to create by myself again. But I had severe separation anxiety as well, and we will definetely work together again. Ideas get twice as good in half the time when you have to brains who work so well together. We’ve had a lot of fun writing the movie script for Blood Cruise together! Me and Sofia Falkenhem, who illustrates the children’s books, also have a great work chemistry. Her beautiful drawings inspire the text and vice versa. I have some other collaborations lined up too, that I am really looking forward to.
What inspires you?
Lots of things. Sometimes the need to refuel – with books, movies, art, tv shows, travel, conversations with friends – is almost physical. When it comes to dialogue, most of my inspiration comes from tv and movies. I also have to admit, sometimes a bad movie or book can be just as inspiring. It always makes me think of how I would have done it instead. Another thing that really inspires me is being part of two book clubs. It is an amazing thing to read and discuss with others, and as an author, it’s a healthy reminder that text can be interpreted in an infinite amount of ways, and everyone has different reactions and opinions. There is no right or wrong.
What frightens you, a horror writer, the most?
The real world.
Why do you write horror, isn’t there enough horrible things happening in the world?
Yes. That is why I love fictional horror. For me it’s a way to process real anxieties and worries.
Where do you live, and are you married?
I live in Stockholm but I come from a small town called Fagersta. I am married.
What do you do in your spare time?
See the question about inspiration. I try to get a fair amount of exercise. But most of all, I love to sleep. That’s my favourite hobby. I have mastered the art of taking long naps.