Suc­cess­ful writer rich in tal­ent

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

A Swedish New Zealan­der with a back­ground in fi­nance never imag­ined she would be a best-sell­ing fic­tion writer.

At home in Pon­sonby, Linda Ols­son says she still can’t be­lieve her books are be­ing re­viewed in the New York Times.

“If some­one had told me that five years ago I would have laughed,” she says. “It feels al­most scary.” Linda’s sec­ond novel, Sonata for Miriam, was re­leased ear­lier this month.

It fol­lows on from the suc­cess of her first novel in 2005, Let Me Sing You Gen­tle Songs.

The book sold more than 300,000 copies in Swe­den and 150,000 in the United States, mak­ing it Pen­guin’s big­gest-sell­ing first novel.

Al­though Linda was al­ways in­ter­ested in lit­er­a­ture and writ­ing while grow­ing up in Swe­den, her qual­i­fi­ca­tions and job were in law and fi­nance.

It wasn’t un­til she moved to New Zealand af­ter trav­el­ling the world in 1990 that she de­cided to pur­sue writ­ing, com­plet­ing a bach­e­lor of arts at Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity in Welling­ton.

Both her nov­els pro­vide in­sight into her Swedish and New Zealand back­ground with rich de­scrip­tions of the land­scape.

Linda says she thinks it might be part of what at­tracts Swedish peo­ple to the sto­ries.

“It’s ex­otic. New Zealand is a dream coun­try for the Swedish.”

The lat­est novel tells the story of a Swedish fa­ther liv­ing in New Zealand who loses his daugh­ter and re­turns to Poland where he was born to trace his roots.

Linda says the novel is darker than her first but it has had a good re­sponse since its Swedish release in June.

The book has al­ready be­come the num­ber one best­seller this month on New Zealand shelves.

Linda is in the mid­dle of ne­go­ti­a­tions with film-mak­ers about a movie adap­ta­tion of her first book and hopes to in­volve a New Zealand pro­ducer.

“That would just make me so proud,” she says.

Pen­guin pub­lish­ing di­rec­tor and ed­i­tor Ge­off Walker says Linda’s books ap­peal to Swedish cul­ture.

“There’s some­thing which strikes a chord with them,” he says.

He says for a new nov­el­ist, Linda is al­ready re­garded a ma­jor lit­er­ary fig­ure in Swe­den, and has been asked to ap­pear as a key­note speaker at lit­er­ary fes­ti­vals.

Sonata for Miriam is avail­able in New Zealand book­stores.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Best­seller: Fic­tion au­thor Linda Ols­son and her dog Pixie.

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