Today is absolutely a ‘meet the author’ kind of day, in which I am joined at The Reading Closet by the ray of sunshine Johana Gustawsson, author of the Roy & Castells series that include Block 46, Keeper and Blood Song, one of my favourite crime fiction series EVER! It has been such a pleasure to interview Johana and I thank her for taking the time out of her busy day writing and wrangling three mini Vikings to answer my questions in the name of Orentober.
So, Johana, we are going to start off with a bit of either-or, that good? Great! *Always thinking about the important questions me.*
Tea or Coffee?
Morning bird or Night owl?
Morning bird (night owl when needed)
She really is people, wait until you see what time she gets up to workout!!
Bookmark or corner folder?
I love it when an author, provider of books, admits to corner folding. I too am a corner folder, receipt user and book tent kind of person! NOT with borrowed books though, I’m not a monster!
Tidily organised or Organised mayhem?
Extremely desperately annoyingly tidy!
Could you share a photo of something that makes you happy please?
What is your favourite childhood book?
The La Comtesse de Ségur books, like Les Malheurs de Sophie. Wonderful children books.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Was it always an author?
Oh no, I wanted to become a TV presenter, but I became a chief editor of a talk show and I enjoyed it so much. That’s how my journalist career started and that led me to write.
If you could choose only one season to last forever, what one would it be?
Spring! Constant blooming. New beginnings, however difficult and rough the winter has been.
I agree with a forever lasting Spring (with alternating autumns?) no-one needs the ‘gets everywhere’ rain or the ‘sweaty puddle’ heat! The blooming of everything and the crispness of leaves? Yes please!
What is your current read?
The Book of Spirits by Allan Kardec, to prepare my next book which will dive into spiritism.
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing? Hobbies etc.
There are loads of things I enjoy, but with my three mini Vikings, I just manage to work: no space for hobbies yet. When they’ll grow a bit, I’d like to work more actually, on different projects like children books. And REST! Being able to sit down with a tea and a book or going to the theatre, god how much I miss that!
How many books have you written? Do you have a personal favourite? What is it and why?
I’ve written 5 books: 1 as a journalist, 1 as a ghost writer and 3 that I could (finally) sign with my very own name. Writing my fourth now. I don’t have any favourites, all of them are part of the path and all of them taught me a lot and gave me great joys but also moments of despair. A little bit like children, don’t you think?
When writing a series, how do you keep it fresh? Is the second in the series always more difficult than the first?
Keeping it fresh by allowing myself to dream (crazy criminally disturbed dreams hahahaha) and not to feel limited by what I can’t do because I have a frame imposed by the series. And yes, the second book was much more difficult to write than the first! You know that there are expectations about your work and that really stressed me out at the time, I literally had knots in my stomach for weeks waiting for feedback. I still do every time a new book is out!
When researching for a novel, do you always have all the research before beginning or do you research as you go? What is the process?
I always do research beforehand and what I find whilst researching always influences the story which shapes as I go along.
Describe your typical writing day?
I wake up at 5 to exercise before the whole house is up, then I take care of the breakfast and the children. I can start my writing day at around 9 until 16h, during the school day. I’m always eating at my desk not to loose time. And when I need to finish a book, or when I am very late with one, like now, after months of homeschooling and summer, I work evenings and nights.
Describe your publishing journey in 3 words
Just do it (hahaha)
Do you have any writing quirks / needs? What are they?
No not really, just time! Any time I can grasp around the kids!
If it gives no spoilers, what is the hardest scene you’ve had to write?
Oh gosh, has Karen got a brand new red pen at the ready?!
What do you find the most enjoyable / difficult thing about writing?
I love shaping my characters, making them real to the point to feel their presence and miss them dearly. This is my greatest joy. And the most difficult, I’d say it is to actually start writing! Stop doing my research and plotting and actually start writing: I’m always scared before writing the first words of a new book; I’m worried that I lost it, so I always tend to push the moment when I’ll write that first scene.
What is a publishing highlight for you?
The first feedbacks of my readers. Finally sharing my world with them. I absolutely love that.
Can you give a one sentence teaser for anything you’re working on if you’re allowed?
A fire in 1920 Paris, two girls disappearing; a 1971 lost teenager trying to inhabit her own skin, and the murder of a brilliant literature professor in Québec nowadays.
Any question you wished I’d asked but haven’t?
Yes: Can I take care of your three boys during a week? And I’d answer “YES!”
I’m sorry, but I seem to be fully booked up – maybe next time? *laughs and backs away*
There you have it, the second last #Orentober 2020 Q&A and it was a blast to be a part of – what do you wish i’d have asked Johana? Did I cover everything?
Thanks again Johana for the opportunity to pick your author brain, you’ve been truly amazing and a superb interviewee!
Until next time,