Interview: Camilla Läckberg – Win Her Debut Novel!

Photo: Courtesy of Pegasus Books

Photo courtsey of Pengasus Books

Meet Swedish crime queen Camilla Läckberg. Her psychological crime novels have sold over five million copies, and last year she was the sixth best-selling novelist in Europe.

Läckberg grew up in Fjällbacka, on the Swedish West Coast north of Gothenburg, and this is where all her detective stories play out. However, in Läckberg’s books, this scenic holiday spot—on the surface a quiet and beautiful fishing community—is transformed into a place of intrigue, mystery, and murder. We talked to her about inspiration, writing, and West Sweden.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have wanted to be a writer my whole life, for as long as I can remember. But my career didn’t start until I took a writing course called How to Write Crime. I actually started writing my first book The Ice Princess during that course.

Why crime fiction?
For me, crime fiction has always been the perfect genre. Also, I think I’m a little bit morbid so I’ve had a great interest in the darker sides of human nature ever since I was a child.

What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is character driven. If you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care about the story.

What is the biggest obstacle you face when writing? And what brings you the most joy?
I’m a very lazy person, so for me, having the discipline to write is the hardest. But it’s always worth it when I have these moments where the characters seem to take on lives of their own.

Do you have any little quirks while writing?
I drink huge amounts of coffee! And I always write in front of the television, which my colleagues consider very weird…

Your books are pretty dark; what image of Sweden do you think you convey to your readers?
The rest of the world seems to have this view of Sweden as a perfect society. So I actually think that I just bring a little bit more realism to the picture of Sweden.

What should one make sure not to miss while visiting West Sweden?
Fjällbacka, of course. It’s the most beautiful place in the world—just to take a boat out in the archipelago is a magical adventure. And don’t miss Smögen, Strömstad, Koster, Marstrand . . . oh I could go on forever! All the small towns on the West Coast are magnifique!
(Curious about Läckberg’s Fjällbacka? Now you can visit the place on a guided a tour.)

Camilla Läckberg talks about The Ice Princess:

Win Läckberg’s debut novel The Ice Princess!
[The contest is now closed. Thanks contestants!]
The Ice Princess is the first in the series about Inspector Patrik Hedberg and the writer Erika. We have five copies to give away. To win, answer the question What is the name of Sweden’s first marine national park? Send an email by October 24 to with the right answer, your name, and address.

Congratulations Eva!

Mom smile

Let us introduce California resident Eva Morato-Crose who is the winner of the Car Plus Vacation contest hosed by West Sweden, VisitSweden and Volvo Overseas Delivery.

Eva won her dream vacation—a road trip of a lifetime in West Sweden where she will be driving around and experience highlights such as Oyster safari in Grebbestad, the Sea Lodge in Smögen and the Garden Society of Gothenburg. View her full itinerary that she picked out herself here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I am a trained nutritionist, but at the moment I work as a mental heath community support worker. I support parents who have children with difficulties; I help them find resources to serve their children better.

My husband and I are celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary in July, so this trip came as a very pleasant surprise—we’ll celebrate our anniversary in Sweden!

What is your relationship to Sweden?

I’ve never been to Sweden, but I’ve always wanted to visit. I used to have a camp counselor as a kid who was Swedish—she was such a fun-loving, warm, and nice person. I’ve wanted to visit Sweden ever since. I want to see if the country is as warm as she was!

What are your previous travel experiences?

I haven’t traveled much at all. I have always been in school, working, or raising children so I haven’t been able to travel much. The only place I have been to so far is Canada, and I am originally from the Dominican Republic. I guess that’s why I entered the contest. I am at a point in my life where I’m finally able to travel—my youngest son is twenty-one years old and he recently moved away from home. Plus, I love exploring different cultures.

Can you tell us a bit about your expectations for this trip?

I just expect to have a wonderful time, meet a lot of interesting people, and create lots of new memories. I look forward to learning more about Sweden and its culture.

Well Eva, we are sure you’ll enjoy West Sweden and we look forward to hosting you and your husband!

Car Plus Vacation, Last Year’s Winner.

Gothenburg! We wanted to find out just how amazing her trip was so we asked her a few questions. Enjoy!

Mary-Jordon in Gothenburg! We wanted to find out just how amazing her trip was so we asked her a few questions. Enjoy!

1) What was your first impression of Sweden?
I was taken by how well kept everything was there. Anywhere you looked it could have been a view from a postcard.

2) What was on your itinerary?
We began our tour in Gothenberg, then headed north along the coast. After we got our Volvo loaner, we visited Klädesholmen, the Nordic Watercolor Museum (and saw an Andrew Wyeth exhibit, funnily enough), Handelsman Flink on the Flatön island, and the Vitlycke Museum in Tanumshede. Later we traveled to Fjällbacka and tooled around the village while waiting for our ride out to Väderöarnas Guest house. On our way back for one last night in Gothenberg, we stopped for lunch at Villa Sjötorp.

3) What was the greatest culture shock that you saw/experienced while in Sweden?
Coming from the sometimes chaotic New York City, I was surprised to see such order in Gothenburg. It was evident that the Swedish Government devotes a great deal of resources to making the country a pleasant place to live.

4) The beauty in making your own travel itinerary is that you could tailor your trip to your liking – What was your favorite part?
I appreciated getting off what I would consider the beaten path and seeing the Swedish countryside and the more remote sights. We traveled the backroads instead of the E6 whenever possible and enjoyed the farmlands.

5) Is there anything that you left off of your itinerary that you wished you were able to do or see?
Too many to list. I will have to go back one day and see so much more!

Continue reading…

Book Giveaway!


On Car Plus Vacation you create the itinerary for your dream vacation in West Sweden and then submit that opportunity to win that trip! You also get a Volvo to cruise around in for the duration of your stay. We are hosting a giveaway of Stefan Edman’s new book, Koster Sea : the First Marine National Park in Sweden. Edman is one of Sweden’s most prominent nature writers, having published over 35 books!

We have 3 copies to give away, all you have to do is post a link to your itinerary that you created on Car + Vacation in the comment section below no later than July 15th for a chance to win, it’s that easy!  We will randomly select 3 winners! Good Luck!

Here is more information on the book:

Did you know that crabs walk for miles across the seafloor carrying their “babies” under their abdomen, that sea cucumbers spit out their guts to defend themselves or that ordinary shrimps perform a sex change midway through life?

These and many other interesting and amusing facts are presented in this book about the Kosterhavet Marine National Park — a wonderful, diverse world, full of contrasts, all within a surprisingly small area. Most of the aquatic environments that are typical of the west coast are found here alongside some unusual and unique habitats, among them the only living coral reef in Sweden.

It’s 1970 all over again


Even though we are in the year 2010, there is now a chance to go back and experience the grooving 1970’s at the newly-unveiled exhibition at Molndal’s Museum! The museum decided that this year’s exhibition would honor the colorful decade of tie-dye and disco by showcasing many iconic pieces of 70’s pop culture that will be on display for the public from now until March 20, 2011.

More than just a nostalgic walk down memory lane, this exhibit is fun for the whole family! In addition to the exhibit, there is a children’s pillow room as well as a series of lectures in the Fors café. The 1970’s theme will be carried throughout other parts of the museum and will be the focus of this year’s Culture Night in Kvarnbyn on September 3rd. Check out the microsite!

Who needs a stage?

In The Kitchen

Some of Sweden’s finest have been heading west to play some serious gigs… in kitchens. Yes, kitchens. Meet ‘In My Kitchen’, which was created with the idea of asking musicians to strip down their songs and then perform them in their kitchen, with the help of various utensils and anything else that comes to hand. The Casiokids recently performed and even cooked an omelet while at it! We were able to sit down with the Ryan and Tim  from “In My Kitchen” to talk about inspiration, how this got started, and their future plans.

Who are you guys? How long have you lived in West Sweden?

Hi there, we are two English gents exiled in Gothenburg for various classified reasons, if we were to tell you we’d ave ta kill ya! However, we are allowed to divulge that Ryan is from Kettering, the underage pregnancy capital of Europe, and Tim is a current world record holder, and that’s the truth!

We’ve collectively lived in Sweden got five years and eleven months.

How did this whole concept come about? Whose apartment is it?

As we both had a background working with music, bands and club nights in England we wanted to do something to help promote the local music scene but were too lazy to leave the apartment during the Swedish winter. So we hit upon the idea of rather listening to CD’s over dinner, why not get bands to play live and, while they’re at it, cook for us. Really it’s the perfect crime! The kitchen belongs to two beloved friends, Johanna and Hjörtur whose apartment Ryan squatted in for three months in 2009. They run an online magazine ( that Ryan also writes for.

Why the kitchen?

Ryan: Well to quote Tim: ’the kitchen is the heart of the home’, thus the best place for creativity.

Who was the first band? and how did you approach them?

The first band we got in touch with was Casiokids who are from Bergen in Norway. They were touring, we were big fans of their music, when we contacted them they were more than up for it and so the legend was born.

Which band has been the most innovative? how?

Well, there have been several innovative moments; Casiokids used a whisk on a cheese grater plus a large casserole dish for percussion, Love & Happiness used two glasses of water as a make do drum kit, but maybe we would have to say The Isolation would win the InMyKitchen Innovation Award with their home made amps and human mic stand (soon to be available to buy on our site).

Do you plan on parlaying this into anything more than just bands in your kitchen?

Well there was talk of trying to do our own version of Live Aid, but that’s still in the early planning stages, we’re just waiting for Bono to get back to us. We are hopefully going to be doing some stuff around a few festivals in Europe this summer, there has also been talk of making a car into a mobile oven, kind of like InMyKitchen on wheels, not unlike the Batmobile!? As well as a few more things that we are working on at the moment, I’m afraid we’re going to have to keep them under wraps for now though!

Which band has been your favorite? (we won’t tell, okay yes we will.)

We’re going to have to use the old cliché and say that they have all been really good, otherwise we wouldn’t have got in touch and asked them to play. Casiokids, our first step on the path to enlightenment, were really good and great guys, everyone should go and see them live! They popped our cherry so, as everyone knows, your first time is always the most memorable.

Interview: Anna Ganslandt


Introduce yourself.

My name is Anna Ganslandt and I am a visual artist.

Lovely to meet you. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Sweden, except for some years in my childhood when I lived in Spain. I did most of my studies at the University of Gothenburg — I have a Masters degree in photography and a bachelors degree in art history — where I also teach.

What’s the art scene in Gothenburg like?

The Gothenburg art scene has suffered from being in–between the scene in Stockholm and Malmö. Stockholm, being the capital of Sweden, and Malmö, geographically close to Europe, has more Internationally connected art schools which produces vibrant art scenes.

Nevertheless there is something interesting and underground with what’s happening in Gothenburg now. The music scene, for example, is well known for being very progressive. I think that the lack of big institutions and financial means have forced our small town to create its own conditions. Gothenburg rest on its own history as an old working town; a shipping town with a dynamic shipyard and car factory, where the institutions, museums and hospitals are founded on donations.

Continue reading…

Dancing cranes at Lake Hornborga

Witness the arrival of over 10,000 cranes flying in from Spain to their traditional breeding grounds. The birds perform the famous crane dance – a mix of bowing, hopping and wing-flapping. Watch from the bird tower at the Nature Reserve Centre at Lake Hornborga.

West Sweden, Pharologists Welcome

Pater Noster Lighthouse is on an island accessible by boat only

Pater Noster Lighthouse is on an island accessible by boat only

Perhaps contrary to first thought, Sweden’s pharological hotspots are not Egyptian Pyramids or statues paying homage to the ancient rulers of the Upper and Lower Nile. No, the attractions that draw pharologists from around the world have nothing to do with Egypt at all. So what are they? you ask – Lighthouses.

It is not surprising, given West Swedens extensive coastline and rocky shores, that it finds itself home to a fair number of these oft isolated but beautiful beacons that welcome ships home and warn them of rough waters. Some remain active today and some are not but many are open to the public for visits, dining, and even overnight stays.

Here is a list of lighthouses in the area with a plethora of information on what to do, how to get there, and who to talk to about it all!

And for the interested etymologist – pharology derrives from Pharos, the lighthouse at Alexandria, and one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.