Washington DC!

I am back in the US! How I love this crazy country. Our trip began, as it often does in the US, with a lovely talkative cab driver who gave us an improvized guided tour: he pointed out the national mall, several “federal buildings”, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Capitol Hill, the little house where a nine children-family once lived and where the father was responsible for watching the river. Nowadays it was by a road.

Interestingly enough, I have very few literary association of Washington DC. It doesn’t feel like a literary city. More movies and television series and non-fiction books about Trump. That being said, there are of course still several amazing bookshops. I’m here to visit the friend who first took me to the US and my Iowa. When she moved here for work she gave me a book that listed all the bookshops in the area, secure in the knowledge that nothing more was needed to make me visit. And here I am. She has selected the two best ones for us to visit.

She has also given me my very own coffee cup. With a cat, of course. Those of you who follows this blog knows our long history with cats (where it all began: http://katarinabivald.se/en/blog/dewey-readmore-books-2/)

French cover

My next book, Pine Away Motel and Cabins, is being translated into French as we speak (my American publisher is also hard at work with the English translation), and my French publisher just sent me this amazing new cover for it. Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

A love letter to the nerds

My God, how I loves us!

I love how passionate we are about topics that the rest of the world might not neccessarily realize they need to know more about. I love how generous we are with our knowledge, gladly imparting it on the people that’s near and dear to us.  I love how no topic is too big or too small to devote our time to. I love how much time we devote to it. I, for example, have a soft spot for the black plague, but I can get nerdy about almost everything.

And my latest nerdy interest is geology in general, and Oregon geology in specific. I love the time perspective it offers us; how anything that happened in, say, the last hundred million years is just a short time away, how the entire human history is just a blink of an eye in the perspective of rocks, how everyting changes, just very, very slowly (did you know that mountains grow? Right this minute. Getting bigger as we speak. Or smaller, of course. Apparently it differs).

Oregon geology also plays an important role in my next novel (to be published in English sometime during 2019). Which brings us to one of my favourite things about being a writer: how you can just contact nerds all over the world and ask them to talk to you about their favourite topics. And they do! So two geologists in Oregon spent hours over Skype trying to teach me everything I needed to know about the fascinating rocks of Oregon and everyday life as a geologist. It was glorious! I’m sure there are still plenty of mistakes in my book, but no shadow falls over them. They did they best. They tried. 

And not only that. This week they sent me a beatiful collection of rocks in Oregon. How lovely is that? Together with a long list describing the different rock samples, of course. Bluechist, serpentine, basalt, thundereggs – rock samples of all different shapes and weight and feel and texture.

In my book you will of course learn more than you ever knew you needed about Oregon geology, but you can already view the rock samples on my Instagram. My name there is katarinabivald, so I’m sure you’ll find me.

It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it

My next novel is going to be published in Sweden in late August (the preliminary English title is Pine Away Motel and Cabins, publication date so far unknown), so right now I’m in the final stages of editing. I love this part of being a writer, when you get to work on a story that already has a beginning, middle and end and when even small changes has big effects.

That being said, it is even better to send in your manuscript and just kick back, knowing that the editor is the one that has to do all the work for a while. And no one can say I didn’t plan it well: an unprecedented summer heat wave arrived just as I had sent in my manuscript. So while my poor editor sweats away, I get to go swimming and read in the grass (so called “research”).

No one said this life was fair.

PS. I had ice cream as well, but I ate it before I had time to photograph it.

The cute story about some postcards and the pirate ship

Now, I know. I know. I did promise you a cute story about some postcards and a pirate ship. And here it is:

The story of the smile that travelled from Penza to Linn Valley, by way of Stockholm (including the pirate ship)

So one day not too long ago I was exceptionally good. Not only did I clean my bathroom drain, I also wrote on my book. And in one of those rare instances of instant karma, I immediately got my reward: an increadibly charming letter from a young woman in Russia. She had read my book, found my adress on my webpage, and decided to write a real letter, since far too few people do that nowadays. She wrote that she was convinced that my book could only have been written by a person who believes in miracles (very true), and that it had inspired her in her own creativity. She writes prose and poetry and makes beautiful postcard from her home town, Penza, and prints them at the local print shop. And she included with her letter three amazing photos of coffee, plums and a paris wheel over beautiful autumn trees, and she hoped they would be a reason for me to smile.

And while I was sitting there, grinning like an idiot over the postcards, I got a message on Facebook from a teacher in Kansas. She told me that every Monday she began the week by asking her young students what they had done during the weekend, and when the time came for her to tell them, she said that during the weekend she had travelled to Iowa and met a friend from Sweden, Sara. Sara was in Iowa to meet a pen pal, but unfortunately, when she got there, the pen pal had already died!

Being children, they immediately seized upon the most important thing: how did her friend die? They asked, and the teacher answer: Do you know, I don’t think the book ever told me that. I love that story because it so perfectly matches my own view on what books give you (what have I done this weekend, you ask? Helped miss Marple solve several murders), and since I had the beautiful postcards from a Russian town in front of me, I naturally offered to send some postcards and a little greeting from Sweden to her pupils. She answered: ”you can’t imagine how big my smile is right now!”

Which means that a smile has been sent all the way from Penza in Russia, via a short stopover in Stockholm, to Linn Valley, Kansas. I went a bit overboard with the postcards and the greeting (but I did TELL the pupils not to swim to Stockholm, since their parents might not like it), and the teacher told me afterwards that one pupil had decided to travel to Sweden by way of pirate ship.

People travel much too seldom by way of pirate ship, if you ask me.