Q & A
What is your full name?
Karin Anna Alvtegen.
When and where were you born and raised?
June 8, 1965; grew up in Huskvarna, (Sweden).
How does it feel to write about subjects such as shame,
deceit and guilt?
I'm very interested in human psychology. Since I, myself,
suffered from a deep depression and panic attacks in 1996, I know
from experience how strongly our psyche affects our consciousness
and our behaviour. The older I get, and the more I learn, the more
I am convinced that we, ourselves, in many respects can affect how
we feel by how we choose to think. However, sometimes certain
conditions and other things make us loose track and require
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it sometimes feels rough
during my writing. I rarely work with depicting surroundings in my
texts, but rather always find myself in the mind of the character
I'm writing about, and at times that strongly affects me. However,
since these books also aim to bring understanding into why my
characters feel and act the way they do, I always end up feeling
good afterwards. That's when it sometimes f eels like I've learned
Where do you like writing most?
I have an office at home. Sometimes I go away for four to five
days and I completely reverse day and night and write from lunch
until four o'clock at night. These usually end up being very
productive days. I've realized that I shouldn't take my creativity
for granted. Instead, I try to give it the best possible conditions
required to keep it flowing. That's why I clear out my calendar
when I start writing a new book, and keep it empty until I'm all
done. Only my closest family members are allowed to demand my time.
In other words, I become quite isolated during my periods of
writing and that gives me the chance to stay in the minds of my
characters; something that more and more is becoming a prerequisite
for my telling their story. Naturally, I set my standards higher
for every new book I begin to write, and I don't write a word until
I have a sufficiently interesting idea that has developed in my
mind. It can take seven to eight months of just thinking, and when
I finally start writing a large part of the story is already
planned out in my mind.
What do you enjoy the most: writing film scripts or
Writing books versus film scripts is really two completely
different things. In books one can describe people's thoughts,
backgrounds, and moods, page after page. In a script everything
should preferably be drawn out in images. One has to think in a
different way when writing. Another difference is that I have
complete control over a book. Down to the last comma, I am
responsible for the result. In the making of a film, many people
are involved and one has to be able to compromise, sometimes for
the better and sometimes for the worse.
What do you, yourself read?
I often read specialist/technical books or biographies. When I
write, I don't read any fiction at all, partially because I have a
hard time following another story, and partially because I don't
want to affect my own use of language.
What inspires you?
A short news-item in a paper, conversations with people,
apartment buildings with illuminated windows, walks in the
cemetery, and personal thoughts.
What makes you happy?
Have you taken any writing courses?
No, I haven't taken any writing courses or other writing
instruction. I follow no rules or guidelines whatsoever, and try to
constantly surprise myself in order to keep my writing enjoyable.
My ambition is to try to write something different and that's why I
don't really have a desire to learn how one is supposed to write.
It starts with an idea or two. These ideas then begin to develop
somewhere inside my head and grow to become more clearly detailed.
I never write a synopsis for my books, and when I finally do begin
to write (which can take up to a year from when a first, minute
idea has begun to form) I pretty much have the whole story set in
my mind: a beginning and an end, and in between that a multitude of
semi goals. Often, unexpected things occur on one's path through
the story. Sometimes even new characters that I haven't helped
create, materialize. In the end, it is always these characters that
prove invaluable to the story. I often refer to this as the "divine
moment" when something like that happens. It is when the
subconscious treads forward and takes over the creative
I always write in chronological order, from the first page to
the last. Nobody besides my husband is allowed to read a single
word before I'm ready. To begin writing a new book is, for me, like
taking off on a long journey. I know where I'm going but not how
I'm going to get there. During my work I am driven forward by pure
desire to return home, but not until the book is complete do I know
that I made it back in one piece.
Which type of readers do you write for?
During the writing itself I only write for myself and for my own
personal satisfaction. If I were to sit and think about my
potential readers while writing, I wouldn't get much work done. I
don't believe that I can change the world through my books, but if
I can get one person or another to ponder over concepts of empathy
and respect for the human kind, then I'm more than satisfied.
Because I become all the more convinced that in order to change the
big things in the world, we must start by changing the small