My first “meet the author” experience

Yesterday evening, I was invited to the monthly meeting of Forodrim (the Stockholm Tolkien Society) to speak of my books. I was one of the two main attractions, the other being a well-known filksong bard. It was the first time that I was asked to speak in public about being an author and about the in’s and out’s of my two books.

Fortunately, I have no problems with standing on a stage so I (hopefully) entertained the audience (about 40 people) for half an hour with my memories of getting hooked on science fiction at age 8 and a quick explanation how coming from a clan of engineers and Jules Verne & Heinlein have influenced my manner of writing SF and fantasy. I tell stories of resourceful women and men solving complex problems with their sharp minds and clever use of technology.

In the case of fantasy, I do not play in the pseudo-medieval field. My fantasy stories instead operate in some sort of pre-steampunk environment with e.g. alchemy as a substitute for technology.

I also spoke of how my personal experience of two wars — Bosnia and Afghanistan — have propelled me into writing novels. In 1993 I worked as a civilian in the Swedish logistic tail for our blue berets serving in Bosnia and in 2008-09 I served as a civilian expert in Kabul. I was profoundly affected twice and writing about what I heard and saw through the lens of fantastic fiction has been both challenging and rewarding.

I also added my 5 cents to why steampunk never has been a genre of significant interest in Sweden. Our concept of the late 19th century deals with farming (Raskens), poverty (Fogelström’s Staden books), and large-scale emigration to the United States. Steampunk was created by Americans who had read a lot of Dickens. It will not resonate well with the Swedish psyche, because we would have a hard time associating that era with the relevant phenomena of steampunk.

On the other hand, I claimed, dieselpunk/dieselretro works much better among Swedes. Its era was filled with rapid development, a mix of optimism (things are getting better) & fear (totalitarian movements threatening our liberty), and the Bauhaus aesthetics (we call it “funkis”, short for funktionalism, and it has been extremely important for our architecture and interior decorating). Therefore it is easier for me to create enjoyable diesel visions of alternate worlds.

The audience were also happy to buy a lot of my books afterward. So it was a most enjoyable evening for everyone. I will be happy to appear at similar events in other places in the future. And I got at least two preliminary invitations straight away.


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