hej hej! (I say this all the time now. I’m the fifth Monkee.) It’s been a loooong time, and I’m very sorry. My excuse is that that I’ve been writing a book which is now with my editor – hurray! – and I’ve also, shock horror, been out of The Shire and into the real world…

I’m very lucky to be published in Sweden, a country that has long held a special place in my heart for various reasons: in no particular order, IKEA, princess cake, Saabs, Abba winning Eurovision the year I was born, and Vikings. And so when my editor at Bonnier, Teresa, invited me over to Stockholm to take part in the Books and Dreams event, alongside some bestselling Swedish authors, I was at Heathrow before you could say, ‘Are Semla buns still in the shops in March?’

The Books and Dreams event is a fantastic night out. For a start, it has a line-up of eight authors from different genres, so there’s something for everyone, and the audience is made up of hundreds of readers – which always makes for a great atmosphere. For an old building obsessive like me, it was a dream venue, too – the grande dame-ish Oscarteartern, a beautiful Art Nouveau confection with chandeliers and gilding and the sort of nooks and crannies that you can imagine ghosts swishing through in their best clothes. When I arrived with Teresa, the glittering, mirror-lined foyer was buzzing with conversation, and it was like being in a particularly lovely dream for me, signing a huge stack of hardbacks and meeting readers. (Thank you, if any of you are reading this, for coming – it made my night!) Here are some of them, waving to me on the stage…


All these people like books!

The interview with the host, Carina Nunstedt – which was in English, fortunately, otherwise it would have been a very short, if pleasantry-filled, ninety seconds of Swedish conversation from my end – was like having a chat with an old friend, with about 550 other old friends hanging out in someone’s cosy sitting room. Don’t you love the standard lamps? One of the interesting things we talked about was the ‘feel-good’ genre that’s emerged in Sweden – I don’t think there’s an exact equivalent in the UK market, but I’m very happy indeed to identify with it: the idea of making readers ‘feel good’ (admittedly, we decided, after making them feel very, very bad to begin with…) is something that makes a writer feel good too. I suppose the nearest label here would be chick-lit, which is often used in a rather dismissive way – as if writing about journeys of self-doubt, and self-discovery, parenthood and bereavement, the tender complications of marriage and the mixed blessings of independence, is all just cupcakes and pinot grigio – whereas ‘feel-good’ feels a bit broader. And more generous.

Lucy Dillon talking about being Lucy Dillon under a big photo of Lucy Dillon


Carina and I chatted about writing, reading, Longhampton, dogs, and obviously cake – and my incessant wittering about cake has finally paid dividends, because when Carina finally stopped me talking about myself finished her interview questions, who should walk on stage, but her charming co-host Josefine Sundstrom, barely visible behind an entire Princess cake from Vete-Katten, the best cafe in Stockholm! Let me tell you, it was all I could do to stop myself falling face-first into that glorious green dome of marzipan, cream and raspberries. There was almost a Miss Piggy moment.


Lucy Dillon hosts Lucy Dillon fika time at Bonnier

BUT I could hear my mother’s voice in my head yelling, SHARE THE CAKE, LUCY, and Carina very kindly sent it round to the Bonnier offices on Sveavagen where I hosted my own Anglo-Swedish fika the following afternoon. (Although I did spend the entire day asking Teresa where the cake was, had the cake arrived, when would the cake be coming, etc, until she eventually gave up and issued cake tracking updates without being asked. Teresa is so patient.)

It’s always great, on lots of levels, to chat to other writers (more of this later), and I only wish I understood Swedish to have listened to the rest of the authors on the panel, who were clearly delighting the audience. We did have a bit of a gossip backstage, though, which was great fun.  I’m hunting down their novels in translation! Here I am with Anna Jansson, Peter Barlach, Carina and Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg  (as soon as I learn how to do hyperlinks I will link to their book pages…)


I will leave you with this warning poster from back stage at the Oscar Theatre. Scotsmen and New Romantics – watch your step…