Interview with Anna Dahland, Author of Swedish Again

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Swedish Again: a memoir of motherhood and identity?

I had one of those “life is stranger than fiction” experiences, and when it was over, my friends urged me to write it down! Briefly, I ended up back in Sweden, which I had left as a child, trying to parent seven grieving kids. It was intense, emotional, funny, and often ironic.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Swedish Again: a memoir of motherhood and identity, what would they be?

Something from “The Sounds of Music,” definitely! Ah, well-meaning Maria… except my kids didn’t sing at the end.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I read all sorts of things, but I guess my favorite is memoir. I love the adventures people have and how they overcome adversity. People are unique and creative, and life throws unexpected things at them. Two of my favorite memoirs are “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt and “Intended” by Sharon Nesbit-Davis.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Oh, boy – lots of things. There are two memoirs – “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner and “A Constellation of Ghosts” by Laraine Herring. I’m also reading “Modern Love,” a collection of NY Times essays.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

Hahaha, that has to be the “horabyxor” scene. My foster children sent me out to the mall asking for a type of pants. Not until after I had gone around asking for them did I discover that the Swedish word they had taught me was a nickname. The word was, well, not something a proper middle-aged woman would want to go around saying!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I don’t like interruptions, so I have a sign on my door indicating when I’ll be back. It looks like one of those clocks you see in a storefront, “Sorry we missed you. We’ll be back at…” Sometimes I tape a large sheet of yellow legal pad to the clock which says, “Writing! Don’t come in!” In case the message is not clear enough. So basically, yeah, I’m obnoxious to my family.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Let deeds, not words, be your adorning” from the Baha’i Writings, and above my bed, “Wake up. Kick ass. Be Kind. Repeat.”

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

You don’t have to be perfect to help someone. You’re enough, and your love is enough.


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