My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises

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Author Interview – Fredrik Backman on his novel My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises

Published June 13, 2016 by bibliobeth

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FREDRIK BACKMAN – A BIOGRAPHY

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the bestselling author of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages.

Click on the books to get to the link to GoodReads!

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For my review of A Man Called Ove which I talked about with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads, please click HERE.

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For my review of My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises, please click HERE. Please note, this book has also been published as My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry.

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Britt-Marie Was Here is Fredrik’s new novel, published on May 3rd 2016 by Atria Books which features one of the wonderful characters from My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises.

INTERVIEW WITH FREDRIK BACKMAN

I’d like to welcome Fredrik to bibliobeth today and thank him very much for his time in giving this interview.

1.) Both your debut novel, A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises feature complex characters with hidden depths. Which character have you most enjoyed writing (past or future novels) and why?

I think I’m always most fond of the character I’m writing at the moment. I think it has to be that way, maybe not unlike a relationship, you have to be in love with the person you’re with right NOW. You can still be friends with the old characters, but you have to invest your time and your attention to the one you’re with right here. To be honest I think my feelings about the characters go as far as me almost forgetting things about the characters in my old books, since I’m too invested in the present. People sometimes asks me detail questions about an older book and I have to answer “I don’t remember, I have to re-read what I wrote”. That’s not to say I don’t care about the old characters, I really, really do, but the present characters consumes all of me. My thoughts and my feelings and my memories and my plans. My experience is that whenever I write a book like that, giving it absolutely all I’ve got, then the characters become real people to me. I consider them actual human beings, so I begin to view and react to my old books more as documentaries. As if I did an interview with an actual person, wrote a book about it, and afterwards that person continued their life and went on to other things and had an existence without me. Does that make sense?

2.) When the story begins, Elsa has two superheroes in her life – her grandmother and Harry Potter, although she may gather a few more along the way! Who were your superheroes when you were younger, literary or otherwise?

I liked sports. That was my biggest pretend universe. I find sports to be the same kind of escapism as literature or movies of comics: You step into a place where everything is made up but we pretend it’s real. We pretend it matters. We invest real feelings into it. And the second we decide we don’t want to, it all falls apart. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings would be nothing without an audience, and football is the same thing. It’s all pretend, and deep down we know, but we NEED that as human beings. When talking about that psychological model “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”, where human needs such as “food/housing/friendship” and so on are listed in a pyramid, I always find it odd that “imagination” is never listed. Everyone I’ve ever met has something going on in their head that is all made up, and is absolutely vital to them. It can be movies or books or sports or music or whatever. I don’t know if that answers your question. But if not, I answer “Astrid Lindgren”. She’s my absolute favourite writer. If you don’t love her you and me have nothing in common in life at all.

3. One of my favourite characters in the novel is the brave and biscuit-obsessed “wurse.”I’ve already got a mental image of him in my head but please satisfy my curiosity and tell me what breed of dog he most resembles to you? (If he were a dog of course and not a wurse!)

Well, he’s a wurse. They look they way they look. Like a wurse. It’s like asking “what does a horse look like?” It’s not a thin rhino or a very big monkey or a hairy snake. It’s just a…horse.

And I really wanted to write it the way so that every reader can cast it themselves. I wanted to force people to use their imagination. Which of course backfired, because now I’ve, true story, have had more than thirty different email discussions with people from at least six different counties who’s written me to tell me “DOGS CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE THEY WILL DIE!!!”. And I answer “well it’s not a dog”. And they reply “DOGS CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE YOU MORON!!!”. And I answer “well it’s a wurse, not a dog”. And they reply “YOU KNOW NOTHING OF DOGS THEY ARE ALLERG…”. And I answer “IT’S NOT A BLOODY DOG!!! IT’S A BLOODY WURSE!!!”.

4.) Elsa’s grandmother is responsible for the most terrific fairy-tales and the creation of many kingdoms. Do fairy-tales still hold a special place in your heart as an adult?

I think any adult who doesn’t hold a special place for fairy-tales needs to get help.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m writing a book to be published in Sweden this autumn. It’s a lot more serious than my precious ones, according to ones who’ve read it. Less jokes, more story, and perhaps a bit darker. It’s different. So maybe everyone will hate it, I don’t know. But it’s what I wanted to write right now and I thought I have to take the chance now that the publishers actually WANT to publish my books. Because that will all change as soon as they figure out I don’t really know what I’m doing here.

And now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

I don’t care. I read a lot of printed books, I read a lot of others on my phone. I have two kids, I don’t have the luxury of choosing HOW to read. If I get to read I read anything. And “real” book? What does that even mean? “You do book or you do not do book. There is no try.”, as Yoda might have put it.

Series or stand alone?

I’ve always viewed series as just a REALLY long stand alone. Divided into smaller chunks. So…both?

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. Easy. There’s quite enough reality in reality.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Bookshop trawling.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Dog-earing.

Once again, a HUGE thank you to Fredrik Backman for giving up his time to do this interview and for his frank and very funny answers. My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises was published on June 16th 2015 by Atria Books and is available to buy from all good book retailers now! I’m very much looking forward to reading his next novel, Britt-Marie Was Here so look out for a review of it on bibliobeth very soon.

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Blog Tour – My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises – Fredrik Backman

Published April 19, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The hilarious, heart-breaking new novel by the author of the international bestseller A MAN CALLED OVE.

‘Granny has been telling fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember. In the beginning they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practise granny’s secret language, and a little because granny is just about as nutty as a granny should be. But lately the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on…’

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy. Standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa runs to her grandmother’s stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

So when Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has hurt, it marks the beginning of Elsa’s greatest adventure. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones-but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

What did I think?:

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Fredrik Backman’s debut novel, A Man Called Ove, I was delighted when Sceptre Books offered me the opportunity to be part of a blog tour for his second novel, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises (also known as My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry). Many thanks to them for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Before starting, I had no idea how much this book was going to affect me and I’m thrilled to say it didn’t disappoint on any level and I now have every intention of reading everything this author will ever write!

There are a number of weird and wonderful characters in this novel whom we learn more and more about as the story progresses but there are a few real stars that shine so brightly from within the pages that it becomes impossible not to fall in love with them. Our main characters are a seven year old girl called Elsa and her seventy-seven year old grandmother, both true forces to be reckoned with. Poor Elsa is not having the best of times, her parents are divorced and she feels increasingly excluded from their lives – her father with his “new” family that often seem to take precedent over her, and her mother and partner George who are just about to have a new baby themselves.

Both her mother and father although separated both go through life requiring order and perfection and Elsa’s personality is often in direct contrast to this, taking more after her grandmother who zips through life defying authority (and pretty much everyone) in an eccentric little whirl of chaos. For her grandmother, this includes smoking like a chimney in all the forbidden places, urinating with the toilet door open and throwing turds at police officers so she often gets in a world of trouble but her grand-daughter is always by her side, loving and worshipping her. Elsa is quite a precocious child who has an unshakeable habit of correcting people’s grammar and saying exactly what she thinks and unfortunately this leads to her having no friends and being constantly bullied at school. Her grandmother is her superhero and invents a fairy-tale world, The Land Of Almost Awake for Elsa to help her escape when things get a bit too much.

Tragically, Elsa’s grandmother passes away but before she dies she concocts a treasure hunt for Elsa which involves Elsa finding letters that she has placed in strategic places and delivering them to their recipient. Each letter takes the form of an apology and through each one, Elsa finds herself learning more about the important people in her grandmother’s life and indeed, much more about her grandmother herself who has amassed a multitude of secrets in her exciting and bizarre life. Making many more friends along the way, Elsa discovers that the characters in their exclusive fairy-tale kingdom may actually exist and may need her just as much as she comes to need them.

This was such a beautiful read taking me through a roller-coaster of emotions, alternately sniggering then coming close to tears. I loved the closeness of the relationship between Elsa and her grandmother and fell head over heels in love with their eccentric personalities but will also have a special soft spot for a very important dog…I’m sorry – “wurse,” who definitely had a personality all of his own and gave Elsa such comfort and support as she came to terms with the loss of her grandmother. My own rather vivid imagination was given such a treat with the creation of a fairy-tale kingdom and it was lovely to see the blurred lines between fantasy and reality as the author laid bare the people behind the fairy-tales. The humour throughout the novel was impeccable and the characters so wonderfully realised that I instantly felt that I knew them all personally. I’ll be picking up Backman’s next novel for sure and highly recommend his work for anyone that enjoys flawed, intensely loveable characters and skilful story-telling.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The lovely people at Sceptre Books have allowed me to host a giveaway for My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises and two lucky people will win a copy of the novel. Interested/intrigued? Enter below! Good luck everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers? My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises was released by Sceptre Books and is available from all good bookshops now.

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