Yesterday, I attended “An Evening with Fredrik Backman” at the central branch of the Kitchener Public Library. The New York Times bestselling author of five novels, two novellas, and a book of essays has been published in 25 languages across 40 countries.
Author and Conestoga College professor Judah Oudshoorn joined Fredrik for an armchair conversation. Judah began by introducing the Stockholm native as a non-pretentious and genuine master storyteller.
An informative and entertaining session followed where Fredrik displayed self-deprecating humor in his responses to questions about two of his novels: Beartown and Us Against You.
In writing these novels, Fredrik wanted to explore the locker room culture. It took him a while to understand that he was part of that culture. He commented, “The worse people in my books come from me.”
Fredrik really feels for his characters. They live and run around in his head for a long time. His wife often calls him “reality impaired.”
Fredrik did not aspire to be a writer. He likes telling stories and realized early in life that writing is an excellent way to communicate. As a child. he struggled to speak until he discovered that if you can write, you can edit yourself until it’s comprehensible. After an argument with his articulate, lawyer-educated father, Fredrik would go to his room and write a stern letter to his father.
Fredrik was inspired by Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking. An intelligent and accomplished writer, Ms. Lindgren, could have won a Nobel prize in Literature. Instead, she chose to write Children’s Literature using the simplest of words. She didn’t want to exclude anyone from reading her books. Fredrik shares that goal.
Fredrik Backman’s advice to aspiring writers…
Dig deep within your emotions and ask: What story do I want to tell? And how can I express those emotions?
You won’t stumble onto an original story. What is original: Your voice and the time in which you live.