Feelgood Fiction

Feelgood balloonChristina here. I recently attended a writers'/readers' conference in Sweden called the FEELGOOD FESTIVAL. 200 readers congregated in the very picturesque town of Sigtuna (founded by Vikings in the 10th century and full of runestones so paradise for me!) to hear a day-long series of chats/discussions about various aspects of feelgood fiction. To me that term means romance, but as I listened to the authors being interviewed it quickly became clear that to Swedes it has a much broader meaning.

Sigtuna townRomance as a genre is severely under-represented in Sweden, where the largest sections of the book stores are devoted to crime/thrillers/Scandi Noir and more literary oeuvres. The upswing in popularity of what they call feelgood books is a recent (and to readers like me a very welcome) development that seems to be growing in strength every day. And yet, when I visited the biggest book store in Stockholm afterwards, they didn’t have a dedicated section for such stories – not even a table with recommendations. Not good!

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Fairy Tale Forests

ForestChristina here. I’m still in Sweden and have been enjoying one of the things I miss the most about this country – the huge, deep forests. Sweden is fairly sparsely populated, and in the part where I grew up, most of the countryside is covered by woodland and thousands of lakes of various sizes. Going for nature walks or heading out to pick berries and mushrooms is a favourite pastime here and it’s something I used to do with my family as well. There is a law in this country called “Allemansrätten” which gives everyone the right to roam wherever they wish, provided they don’t trample crops, ruin anything or leave rubbish behind. It’s a fantastic privilege and one that most Swedes don’t abuse.

2 Skutt_by_Tuvstarr_by_John_Bauer_1913This time of year, the berries are all gone and most of the mushrooms too, but it’s still lovely to just go for a walk, as I did last week with my friend and fellow author Anna Belfrage. It’s hunting season, so there’s always the possibility that you might come across a panicking elk/moose, deer or wild boar, but that’s never happened to me. I just enjoy the peace and quiet, and the fresh scents of pine and moss. (I’m not getting into a debate about whether they are called elk or moose – I prefer the word elk because it’s a direct translation of the Swedish word “älg” which is what they are called here, but others seem to disagree.) (Illustration – "Skutt by Tuvstarr" by John Bauer 1913)

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