Author: Monika Fagerholm

Trial and error?

Issue 4/2008 | Archives online, Essays, On writing and not writing

Writer's block

If you want to write, you need to do it every day, says the author Monika Fagerholm. Trial and error are necessary for her – and so is not being afraid of getting lost in the woods in the process, because only then can amazing things be found

Writers write and writers write every day. I remember seeing this in one of those inspirational guides on writing I enjoy reading – even if they don’t necessarily help you in pursuing your daily writing as much as you would hope. At the worst, they give you a kind of exhausting energy which just leaves you drained. And yes, turning to these kinds of manuals almost always involves an element of desperation; you don’t need advice when everything is going great. More…

Troubled waters

Issue 1/2005 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Den amerikanska flickan (‘The American girl’, Söderströms, 2004). Introduction by Pia Ingström

Doris Night&Sandra Day, Sandra Night&Doris Day: those were their alter ego identities for the game, which also involved the smiles they’d practised in front of the mirror at the bottom of the empty swimming pool, in the house in the muddier part of the woods.

‘We’re two clairvoyant sisters,’ said Doris Flinkenberg. ‘We got that way because of tragic circumstances. The poltergeist phenomenon. Do you know what that is?’

Sandra Wärn shook her head, but looked expectantly at Doris, the perennial crossword – solver, with dictionary to hand, who continued. ‘It’s when the innocent child has been badly abused and has developed supernatural powers in order to survive. Powers to see behind what’s there,’ Doris Flinkenberg explained. ‘To see what no one else can see.’

‘You and I, Sandra,’ Doris confirmed. ‘We were badly abused. I with my scars and you with your tragic family background, your mother and her lover, all of that. You and I, Sandra, we know what it is to suffer.’ More…


30 September 1998 | Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Diva. En uppväxts egna alfabet med Docklaboratorium (en bonusberättelse ur framtiden) (‘Diva. An alphabet of your own for growing up with Doll Laboratory [a bonus story from the future]’, Söderströms, 1998)

I am Diva and everything I say is true. Close your eyes, dream about the most beautiful thing of all. Open your eyes again. See me. Girl-woman. Diva-Lucia. Thirteen, nearly fourteen. Baby Wonder. The one they thought did not exist.


(an eternal day, love is born)

Daniel and I. In the autumn we go out to a cottage in the forest. We go walking for a whole extra day. We walk and walk, and it is an autumn day which is implacable. The lingonberries glow in the sun as if on a garish work of art by an impressionist seeing the world for a moment in a sickly way, sweat running inside boots, and squelch squelch on dry crackling ground, so it feels as if the whole forest would be shattered under your boot-clad feet. Great black boots, certainly two sizes too large so as to allow for a proper squelch. Or to allow something. A dry dry autumn, Daniel admits metres ahead of me. And that the elk-flies can’t have had time to get here from across the eastern border beyond which, as far as I know, they exist; it will take years before they manage to get here, Daniel explains. I squelch on, however much those creepy-crawlies are undeniably creeping over my body under my hot tracksuit, in my hair and scalp. Daniel knows about the forest and nature. Daniel knows about everything. And he laughs again because of those flies, and later, he laughs at night, for they don’t stop crawling then either, in the sleeping-bag which in a special way attaches me to Daniel because the zip has stuck and has to be nibbled apart by my teeth, for by then Daniel is asleep, and I have to get out and spew, for I have eaten the wrong things in the wrong order, as so often, all at once, I mean. So Daniel does not believe me. We walk on. More…

The summer of 1965

Issue 2/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Underbara kvinnor vid vatten (‘Wonderful Women by the Sea’, Söderströms, 1994; Finnish translation lhanat naiset rannalla, Otava, 1995). Introduction by Michel Ekman

The summer of 1965; this summer people go waterskiing. They go waterskiing behind the Lindberghs’ shining mahogany sportsboat, and from midsummer onwards they go water-skiing behind Gabbe’s outboard motorboat, an Evinrude bought second-hand from Robin Lindbergh. Now Bella and Rosa are skiing: Tupsu Lindbergh’s face is covered in freckles if you look at her close to, and it’s not particularly becoming, her fair hair is super-peroxided and she is as thin as a skeleton and everyone knows that it’s because she is so thin and ugly and not because she has a cold that she says she can’t take part in any watersports. There is something nervous about Tupsu Lindbergh. At Bella’s party at the beginning of the summer Tupsu Lindbergh sits on the white villa’s veranda, on the white villa’s lawn on a camping chair, on the white villa’s beach while Bella and Rosa go waterskiing and talk about Tupperware. Not Tupperware all the time, but Tupperware is the collective description. More…