Is it true you can’t decide whether you prefer books or people?
When my book was first published, that sentence was a compromise between total honesty and wanting to appear vaguely normal on my book jacket. I always knew that I preferred books. I mean, think about it – even if you like people, they are better in books. Interestingly enough, now that I am a writer, I have grown fonder of mankind. It happens reassuringly often that I meet someone and think: I could never have made this up.
You grew up working part-time in a bookshop – which writers have influenced you the most?
Possibly Jane Austen. I loved the ease of her stories, the elegance of her language and the wicked humour of her reflections on people. Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage . . . And all of this combined with plots and relatively happy and satisfactory endings.
Your house is crammed with books. If you could take just one to a desert island with you, which would it be?
I’m afraid it would never happen like that. Instead, it would be something like this: I go on vacation on a cruise, and take some twelve of my favourites. I don’t know how I would decide what books to take, but let’s say I did. Then of course, disaster would strike – a sudden shipwreck! – and I would only be able to save one book to bring to the desert island we’re close to.
Only, I would try to bring them all across the heavy waves, and then I would drown, clutching all of my books. Which, when I think of it, is not a bad way to go, really.
This is your first novel. How nervous were you when you began writing it?
It’s funny, I can’t remember being nervous. I was young, and I had no idea what I was doing, so I set out with a good amount of hubris and energy.
I became nervous when I had spent years working on it, and years getting rejected by all the publishers in Sweden. Back then, my biggest fear was that no one would ever read my book. Now that my first novel has been so successful and I am working on my next one, my biggest fear is that people will actually read it.