I might as well own up right at the start: I’m an over-achiever. Always have been, always will be. This also means I’m somewhat competitive. Okay, okay, strike the somewhat. I’m so competitive I can’t go to Body Pump classes because I always have to have the most weight on my barbell – which is difficult seeing as yours truly no longer is a fit and toned twenty-something, while Body Pump classes tend to have a lot of fit and toned twenty-somethings. As you can imagine, in this case my competitive nature leads to consequences…
In general, being an over-achiever has worked out great for me. Here I am, proud mother of four grown-up children, happily married, successful career wise and – at last – a published author of eight books so far. Some people would describe my books as best-selling and acclaimed. Being Swedish, that mostly makes me blush – in Sweden, we do not toot our horn.
Was I always an overachiever? I don’t know. I recall my childhood as happy – if itinerant. Born in Sweden, I learnt to walk on the ship transporting me and my mother to Peru and my waiting father. He’d decided to try for a career abroad, and my mother was happy to come along, as eager as he was to explore new cultures.
So I grew up speaking Spanish and Swedish, graduated to adding English when my parents decided to enrol me in The English School in Bogotá, Colombia. I was ridiculously happy –especially after one of my teachers threw wide open the figurative doors to English history. This is when I began to note a certain difference in approach to life between me and my classmates. Where they were constantly talking about the future (or football, at which I excelled) I was mostly dreaming about the past. I had no desire to become a business woman – I wanted to be a medieval knight.
As you can imagine, that was an impossible dream to pursue. My father tried to be as supportive as he could while biting back on an amused smile or two, which is how I ended up proud owner of a beautiful wooden sword, a shield emblazoned with a rearing lion, and my very own quintain. My mother shook her head but contrived to keep an endless supply of books coming my way, everything from Treece to Tolkien. My sister was happy to play the role of damsel in distress. For a little while longer I could hold on to the dream that maybe, somehow, I’d wake up one day to blaring trumpets and fluttering banners. Didn’t happen.
This is when I discovered the power of writing. Notebook after notebook was filled with stories – all of them set in the past, all of them with yours truly (I went for first person narratives) heroically saving princesses or kings or entire kingdoms.
I became older and puberty happened. Agh! I didn’t want breasts, I wanted a sword! My mother told me to get over it, saying soon enough I’d realise just how lucky I was to be a woman. I think she meant the joys of motherhood – but such stuff fell on deaf ears. In my writing, however, a subtle change began to creep in. First person became third person, and suddenly the protagonist was a young woman, and there were young men, and…Yup: I was starting to realise that being a woman did have some things going for it, starting with boys.
We returned to Sweden when I was fifteen. The coming years were not much fun at all – I stuck out like a sore thumb in this new environment. I retreated further into the world of books, threw myself into heated debates with my history teacher, and had my lit teacher swooning with joy when I gave her an abbreviated summary of Don Quijote. Not my doing really: my mother kept on pushing all those books my way, an eclectic mix containing everything from Angelique to Heart of Darkness. (My mother is a firm believer in having a wide approach to reading, and gets very irritated by people who insist on dividing books into “good” and “not so good” categories. As per my mother, if a book gets people reading, then it serves its purpose.)
I think my mother hoped I’d be a teacher, like her. I was somewhat tempted, but what I really wanted to be was a professional time traveller. As such a profession did not exist, I considered studying history, which was when my father put his foot down, telling me history was all very well as a passion, but as a profession it was somewhat lacking – especially in a country as small as Sweden.
Seeing as my father rarely did put his foot down, I listened. Which was how I ended up studying Business Administration, Accountancy and Finance. I don’t regret it – I’ve had a rewarding career. Besides, if I hadn’t gone for that combo, chances are I’d never have met the man in my life.
I do believe I fell in love with my future husband the first time I saw him. The feeling was not reciprocated, not initially, and yours truly had to work her butt off to finally have him sit up and see the light – me. Once he did, we became inseparable, are still inseparable.
With future husband, I sort of got Scotland as an extra, not because he is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled from Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like me, these little details made Future Husband all that more desirable, and it also sparked a permanent interest in the religious upheaval of the 17th century, particularly in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of The Graham Saga, began to take shape.
Very many years later, and life had sort of swished by. Four children, two full-time jobs, a house in the country, dogs, running a day care centre on the side (I wanted to ensure my kids had the best care possible), cooking, baking – for quite a few years I had problems finding any time for my writing. It frustrated me, putting it mildly. But one morning I woke up and the kids were self-sufficient, the garden was tamed and the freezer was full and I thought “nothing to stop you now, honey,” which is when I sat down and dug out all those little scraps of paper and post-its I’d written things on over the years.
Since then, seven years have passed. I now have eight published books – all of them part of The Graham Saga – and am somewhat stunned at having them awarded stuff like BRAG Medallions, and HNS Editor’s Choices, and, like icing on the cake, an HNS Indie Book of the Year Award. I guess the success of The Graham Saga proves it’s not only me who dreams of time travelling, seeing as my series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, I hope to entertain and captivate my readers, but I must admit to writing all of this mostly for me – and for Alex and Matthew.
While considering whether to add another book or two to The Graham Saga, I am also hard at work with my next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. Plus there’s a story about a jewel thief in the 17th century waiting to be told, and another about three reincarnated souls that pursue each other through time, and…Well: imagination is something I have in spades.
Overachieving me is of course doing all this writing while still holding on to a demanding (and rewarding) career as CFO, plus I do find time to bake – what can I say? I like cake – and cook. I like food as well, which is why all my books have references to food, one way or the other.
Other than edibles and writing, I am in love with the 17th century stonewalls that surround our country house – and I intend to learn just how to repair the stretches we’ve found lying hidden in the undergrowth. I also like roses – preferably the older varieties – and lupines. The latter I don’t need to plant, I merely have to defend the ones I have from my sons who think the meadow would make a great playing field. Huh: think again.
I have a thing about herbal remedies, and there is a concoction of limes, linseed and sugar that I use often to alleviate coughs. Plus the things one can do with elderberries or meadowsweet…(And with beautiful monk’s hood, but seeing as that would lead to someone’s death, I neither do it nor recommend it)
One could think by now I’ve ticked all the boxes in the to-do list for my life. Nope. There’s so much to see, so much to learn – even more to write. Plus, of course, I really have to beat the crap out of that fit and tanned twenty-something in my Body Pump class. Yup. Which is why, dear readers, I must now leave you to your own pursuits while I get ready to do battle. After all, a barbell has quite some similarities to a medieval sword!
For more information about me and my books, please visit my webpage