Wednesday, June 6th 2007 : "Writing in Sweden"
Last month we went to Sweden to visit our friends Lars and Ingrid. We've known Lars for years since he advertised in a birding mag for an Englsih family to do a house swap when our kids were small. He shares Tim's passion for birds, the Scilly Islands and the occasional pint of Guiness. Tim has been to Scania several times; this was my first visit to Sweden.
We spent most of our time on Öland (pronounced Urland with two dots on the O), a long spear of an island in the Baltic Sea reached by bridge from Kalmar. Despite being so exposed it's a green, lush place with patches of woodland and flower rich meadows, traditional red wooden farmhouses and the Alvar, a unique heathland habitat. We hunted rare orchids, saw birds like red-backed shrike, thrush nightingale and icterine warbler which would be scarce migrants here in the UK. At the south of the island there's a lighthouse and a bird observatory and museum, which reminded Tim of Portland, one of his favourite places. There we caught up with 'the boss' Bosse Carlsson. We last saw him in Fair Isle where he was stranded by storms and desperate to get home.
Öland is known as the island of wind and sun, but for most of our stay there was low cloud. Not pleasant for sightseeing, but brilliant inspiration for my third Shetland book. Each morning the others would go birding; fuelled by good strong coffee and Ingrid's fantastic home-made bread, I'd spend a couple of hours writing. The new book is set in a foggy spring on Whalsay one of the smaller Shetland islands and the Oland mist gave just the feeling I wanted to create of being cut off from the world.
Ing-Britt, my Swedish editor tell me there are plans for a quartet of crime books set in Öland. Each apparently will be set in a different season... I hope they get translated into English. In the meantime I have the germ of an idea myself for a piece set there. Not a novel but a short story. We visited a house on the east coast of the island close to a lighthouse, surrounded by a magic garden and quite cut off. A perfect setting for a traditional murder mystery.
Photo © Lars Rydgren, 2007
Posted by Ann at 04:15 PM GMT