If you’ve ever wondered what two authors talk about when they’re put in a room with a lot of coffee, wonder no longer! This is me, wittering on about cake, writing and dogs with Swedish bestseller, Katarina Bivald…
If you haven’t read Katarina’s runaway international bestseller, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, you really should. It’s a book-lover’s dream novel: Sara, a shy but imaginative bookworm, moves from Sweden to Broken Wheel, a one-horse town in Iowa, and brings the magic of storytelling alive in the hearts of the jaded locals, while discovering that romance and mystery aren’t just shelves in a library. It has a charming heroine, a lovely romance, one of those gripping backstories and a sense of community that reaches out and hugs you by the end. Basically, a book that you sink into one afternoon with a cup of tea and never want to leave. It’s out in hardback now and the very pretty Vintage paperback comes out in August. I’m really bad at links, but here goes: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Readers-Broken-Wheel-Recommend/dp/0701189061/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461583924&sr=8-1&keywords=Katarina+bivald
Katarina and I spent the day talking. Officially, we were only supposed to talk for the hour or so it took to record the podcast, but we started chatting about books we loved over lunch at Hotel Clara, where I was staying, carried on while walking across Stockholm to the studios, then talked so much in the podcast that the engineer had to keep breaking in to keep us vaguely on topic. I was so engrossed in Katarina’s description of her new book (Life, Motorcycles and other Impossible Projects – you’re intrigued too, right?) and how she got into writing, that I totally forgot to do my photo face, hence the terrifying photos of me in headphones. (I don’t have Bitchy Resting Face so much as I’m Coming To Burn Down Your House Face. It’s a problem. Either I try to maintain a constant light smile, which makes me look as if I’ve escaped from a facility for confused silent movie actresses, or I do nothing and have mothers edge their children out of my reach on buses. Awkward.)
As well as having a very elegant turn of English phrase, as you’ll hear in the podcast, Katarina is also extremely knowledgeable about British bookshops, to the point where I started to feel woefully badly travelled in my own country. As part of her tour for The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, she had visited the small town of Hay-on-Wye which is, as I’m sure you know, the bookshop capital of the United Kingdom*. I live literally down the road from Hay, so I invited Katarina to call in next time she was passing, although by this time I’d wittered on at length about my drooly dogs and chaotic housekeeping so I’m not convinced I’ll see her any time soon… (But come, Katarina! I have Princess Cakes from IKEA in my freezer!)
Podcast done – have you clicked the link yet? It’s here: https://www.acast.com/sostories/-5lucydillonandkatarinabivald-speakingofstories) we then talked over fika back at Bonnier WHERE MY CAKE HAD ARRIVED (see previous post, with attached pic of me pretending to share out the cake while secretly wondering how big I can make my own slice), then Katarina escaped for a bit, possibly to put her ears in a bucket of cold water, then we met up again in the evening to do an event at an absolutely beautiful bookshop – Äppelfikens Bokhandel in Bromma. Katarina and I have both set novels in bookshops, and we agreed that this was exactly the sort of bookshop we’d like our imaginary characters to run. By which I mean, the sort of bookshop we’d like to spend hours and hours mentally rearranging in our heads like the best kind of dolls’ house. Light, airy, full of gorgeous stationery as well as books, and a whole section of cunning presents for 7 year olds. I had a good look around the children’s section complete with ‘my first English books’ – which concentrated gratifyingly on British greetings like ‘what what?’ and ‘good day!’ and advice on how to discuss the weather. And people wonder why we love the Swedes so much.
The event also resulted in what might be the best photo of two commercial women’s fiction writers ever:
Seriously. I might change my actual author photo to this.
Just to finish this post on another cake, I asked Katarina where I might find a semla bun at this time of the year. And she told me. But that’s a cake for another post….
(*disregarding for a moment the issue of whether Hay is a separate kingdom, yadda yadda. It’s bad enough working out whether it’s in England or Wales PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL ME TO TELL ME WHICH)