Hello! Today, as part of the Book Talk with R & T feature- Katarina Bivald, THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND, has stopped by to chat about her book and how many times a day to NOT water your plants!
On to the interview!
Interview with Katarina Bivald
Did you have a pen pal growing up?
Nothing that I managed to keep up for any length of time, but I have often lamented the dying art of letter writing. And I have received a touching amount of real letters from people who’ve read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, including some who’ve kept up a correspondence with me for month. It’s one of the most fun things about having written a book.
Do you have a writing routine? Or do you write whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes?
Yes, and no. I try to have a writing routine, but so far it seems to result mainly in dead plants. I get up every morning, drink too much coffee and sit down by my kitchen table, promising myself faithfully to work hard and disciplined for at least four hours.
And then I get up, walk around, and try to come up with some ideas. After a few turns about the apartment, I realize it feels kind of silly to just walk around without doing anything, so I pick up the watering can and top up the flowers a bit. And apparently, if you water your plants three times a day they die.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend has had several covers between its overseas versions, hardcover, paperback and now US publication. Do you have a favorite cover? If so- are you willing to share which one it is?
That is a very, very hard question, but I think my favorites are the UK and the US ones. They are very different, but both amazing. It’s been incredibly fun to see all the different versions of it.
France, for example, decided to include a cat on the cover. There is no cat in the book (although there is a reference to a book about a cat – does that count?), but maybe they thought It ought to have been. I once got a letter from a French reader who said she had seen the cover and bought the book because of the cat. Fortunately, she liked it so much that it wasn’t until she’d finish it that she discovered that it did not, in fact, include a cat.
Did you base Broken Wheel, Iowa on a particular town or small towns in general?
Small towns in general, or rather, my fantasy about American small towns. I think the best thing about being a writer is getting to make things up, and if you are going to make things up, you might as well do it properly. It got so real to me that I could sit by my kitchen table, look out over the Swedish birches and pine trees outside, and see only miles and miles of corn.
According to Goodreads, I see that RoBWR was originally published in 2013, and again on June 18th of this year, and NetGalley has its publication date listed as January 19, 2016. Can you tell us a little more about the book’s publication (and translation)?
It was published in Sweden in the autumn of 2013, and I need hardly tell you what an incredible experience it was to finally have a printed copy of my very own book. I carried it with me for days: when I went into the kitchen, it followed me. When I sat down in front of the television in the living room; it sat there beside me. And I tried sleeping with it next to me on the pillow, but it turned out to be surprisingly uncomfortable.
It was a whirlwind autumn, that year, with foreign rights eventually being sold to some 25 countries. And during 2014, I worked closely with the English translator, Alice Menzies (she’s done a tremendous job on it) and my English publisher, who helped improve the story. It was interesting; being able to revisit Broken Wheel a year after it was published in Sweden. When the American rights were eventually sold to Sourcebooks, I worked with my editor for the final finishing touches. Since she is actually from Iowa, it was of course great fun to see what I got right — and what still needed to be changed.
As an avid reader yourself, what have you read recently that you are dying to recommend?
I’ve had a Truman Capote-theme on my reading lately, starting with Gerald Clarkes brilliant biography Capote – a biography. In depth, fascinating, moving, interesting – one of the best biographies I’ve read in a long time. So then naturally I read Capotes Answered Prayers, and to my dismay I discovered that it was a work of brilliant genius that I wanted to continue forever.
My dismay may need a little bit of explaining. I have this very mixed relationship with classics and “work of geniuses” in general, and male geniuses in particular. I share Amy and Sara’s skepticism towards classics: the lists are arbitrary and unfair, not the least towards the books that actually end up on them. Who wants to read a book just because we “should”? This shouldn’t be in reading. And surely this idea of the drunk and slightly tragic – but still genius! – male author is a bit tiring and, well, old? Women who drink too much, make a fool of themselves, act out etc. etc. are seldom excused on the basis of genius. I cannot imagine a woman living like Capote, writing a half finished book that she herself compares to Proust, and getting away with it.
So of course, I was saddened to discover that it is incredible. Easily the best book he wrote. I could have existed in that world for at least seven volumes. It was so good I didn’t even mind it not being finished.
Are you working on your next book (if so, can you tease us with the topic?) or taking some time between projects?
I am in fact working on my next book (so far the only plants still alive are two very stubborn plants of basil). My second book was published in Swedish this year, called Life, motorcycles and other impossible projects. It’s about a single mother who finds out just how much time life consists of when her only daughter moves to a different town to study. Eventually she starts taking motorcycle lessons, gets involved in an impossible project, falls for her motorcycle instructor (even more impossible) and eventually discovers just how complicated dreams and freedom can be.
My third book is much more unclear. At the moment it’s taken place in a fictional town in Oregon, so now when I look outside the window I see not the tiny Swedish pine trees, but the more magnificent Oregon ones.
What did you think of the interview? Have you added THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND to your Goodreads list yet?
Rhiannon @ Ivory Owl Reviews and T @ Traveling With T