Successful writer rich in talent
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.
Bestseller: Fiction author Linda Olsson and her dog Pixie.