“Imagine all the different people who have walked on these slate slabs and cobblestones before me! Bath attendants, waitresses, delivery boys, privateers and Kings.” It is from this respect for the history of her beloved Marstrand, coupled with an inexhaustible curiosity and a runaway imagination, that Ann Rosman’s detective novels about this gem of an island have been so successful.
When I phone Ann Rosman to talk about Marstrand and the inspiration for her books, she is sitting on a cliff, drinking tea and watching the boats sailing north through the Albrektsund canal. There are many perks to being a professional author…
Ann began her career as an IT consultant, with a focus on business systems, but she was always very interested in stories and the sea. She was only four months old when she sailed for the first time, and her childhood summers were spent at sea with her family, avidly listening to her dad’s tales about the history of Sweden’s west coast – the Bohuslän region – and his numerous conversations with the fishermen they encountered along the way. When she started working in IT and finance, she worked for an offshore company, which allowed her to retain a connection with the sea.
“It was when the company I worked for had taken down the Pater Noster lighthouse for restoration and I was actually able to touch this historic building in our workshop on Hisingen, that my interest in history was reawakened. During my first period of maternity leave soon afterwards, I read up on the history of lighthouses, talked to my dad and interviewing the son of the last lighthouse keeper on Marstrand. I even dragged the pram around the narrow lanes, looking for the best place to hide a fictional body! My husband Niklas thought I had lost the plot and was suffering from some sort of postnatal depression,” says Ann. The result of her curiosity was her first book; The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter.
Her connection to Marstrand is twofold. Apart from the fact that Ann’s husband’s family comes from here, it was also a place that Ann and her family always visited when they were out sailing. And when they visited, they liked to go to Carlsten’s Fortress. “Something happens to me when I get inside the walls of the fortification,” says Ann. Her interest in Carlsten’s Fortress and its history is clearly reflected in her latest novel, Mercurium.
When I asked Ann about what she likes most about Marstrand, her spontaneous reply was:
“Oh, that’s so difficult! There is so very much. But if I had to pick something, it would be Carlsten’s Fortress, the paths and the walking trail around the island, to sit on a cliff and look out over the sea, or to stand in the leafy St Erik’s Park, where the greenery meets the barren cliffs and hear the waves lapping in the distance. And the Danish rye bread from Bergs Café, naturally.”
And what does Ann miss the most from Marstrand when she is travelling? “The feeling I get when I walk around the island, along the narrow lanes, or on the quay. I can’t get that anywhere else. It’s a combination of wellbeing and a sense of excitement about what has happened, or could happen, here.”
Even if you don’t have Ann’s ability to see adventure and storylines in every little detail, Marstrand is well worth a visit. The island offers swimming in the sea, glorious sea views, pleasant walks, history, sailing, good food, and much more…
/Ylva Vitorovic, West Sweden Tourist Board