Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mons Kallentoft's Travelling Road Show

© Tobias Lundqvist

Today's guest blog is by Mons KallentoftHis debut novel Pesetas was awarded the Swedish Writers Union’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the Katapult Prize.  He is most widely known for his crime series about Police Inspector Malin Fors, which takes place in the Swedish town of Linköping, Kallentoft's place of birth.  The series consists of six books and the first one, “Midwinter Sacrifice”, has been translated into more than fifteen languages.
He has also won several prizes, such as the Gourmand World Cookbook Award (2005), the Hagdahl Prize (2008) and Primo Espana (2009).

The last few years I have been on the road a lot, travelling from country to country, from festival to festival, talking about my books and my heroine Malin Fors.

I love these trips.

I love meeting readers, fellow writers and the nice intelligent people in the book business.  I like to give interviews to interested journalists, not yet completely tired of us Scandinavian crime writers.

What I don’t like are all the flights, the loneliness of hotel rooms, and the sadness when I hear my children’s voices on the telephone: ’When are you coming home, Daddy?’


Or the day after that.

I usually hit a bar after those phone calls.  A cold beer or something much stronger.  If I am in France, I reward myself with a too-expensive Burgundy.  I did that recently in Edinburgh as well, in the rather dull fine dining restaurant at The Balmoral Hotel.  I drank a homesick bottle of burgundy on my own and thought; what am I doing here?

Apart from that, I had a nice time in Edinburgh.

Many of my British colleagues are manic jokers; they can´t open their mouths without cracking a joke, it seems.  I am not much of a comedian and while I certainly love my colleagues’ company and the entertainment of it all, it makes me feel like a stiff polar bear with a frozen sense of the world.  Don´t take it so bloody seriously, man, I say to myself.  Relax.  Tell a Viking joke.

One fixture on the travelling writer’s scene is R J Ellory.  A serious fellow like me, and regarded as a bit pompous by many.  I always found him nice, but when I met him outside Paris after Midwinter Sacrifice had been successful in the UK, I had the sense that he saw me as just another competitor, best ignored.

Or worse.

It was with sadness and some amusement that I read about his sock-puppeting.

Why do it?
It is not just a thing you do.

His books have not received much attention here in Sweden.  But his sock-puppeting made quite a stir.

This is another sad thing.  Good books don´t always travel well.  Mistakes always do.
I read A Quiet Belief in Angels and thought it was a good novel, daring within the genre, risk-taking as few crime novels are.

I am writing this in bed in Stockholm, thinking about the time I was on Polish morning television.  The guest before me was R2D2 of Star Wars fame.  I was tired, hungover, and a bit high on pain medication for my bad back and simply not in the mood for a translated conversation with a robot in Polish.  My handler was not happy after the show: ’You didn’t smile’, was the verdict.

But I am smiling now.  At the memory of the aggressive little robot.

A big wide killer of a smile.

Tomorrow the travelling road show that is me goes to Gothenburg, to the annual book fair.  It is the big party of the Swedish book industry, and can best be described as one long hangover for everybody.  It is great fun, and in Sweden, I am considered something of a man about town, so I am a fish in the right water there.

After that, I am scheduled to go to Rome, then to Canada, then to . . .

I don’t know where yet.  But there will be more of those nice, funny people to meet.  And more of those dreaded phone calls.

I realise I am a lucky man.  I get to live in many worlds.  Both a stranger and not.

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