I am a Swedish author, artist, and instructor in the peaceful martial art aikido. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths around the world. I guess that the common denominator of my activities is a curiosity about the age-old questions still eluding answers.
I was born in Stockholm, right before the solar eclipse of 1954, growing up in some of its suburbs. In 1991 I moved to the city of Malmö in the south of Sweden, where I still live - much to my surprise. I thought of myself as more of a vagabond, but the years pass with increasing speed. Also, with the Internet one's geographical habitat is of less significance than ever before.
At the start of the 1980's I spent a year in the USA - first in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, with a winter climate that was quite familiar to me, and then New York as it approached the long hot summer. I fell immediately in love with that magnificent city, entering it through Washington Bridge in my Chevy '69 Station Wagon on Good Friday, just hours before a strike closed all public transport and cars to the city were stopped.
If I can muster up the energy to move again, New York would be the ideal destination.
Since childhood, my main means of expression have been writing and art. Actually, as an adolescent I entered an art school, but had some clashes with the principal and left after only a few months. School and art - aren't they contradictions in terms?
That same year I wrote my first novel, getting the impulse by an opening sentence appearing in my mind. The first version of the script was 19 pages. The first rewrite expanded it to 90 pages, the second to almost 200. It's still unpublished.
Instead, I had my literary debut with my fourth script in 1979, winning a Scandinavian competition with a science fiction story that the Norwegian publishing house found so weird that they rejected it, in spite of the competition rules. It was published in Sweden and Denmark, though.
There have been some books since - novels as well as non-fiction, probably most of them too weird for that Norwegian publisher, either in plot or in subject-matter.
Like so many writers, I have also done some journalism through the years, mainly as a critic. Writing reviews one needs to have integrity, a lively relation to experience, and the ability to put words even to subtle impressions. That is very close to fiction.
So, I've been a critic of literature in the tabloid Aftonbladet, a rock critic in the morning daily Dagens Nyheter, and the very secret restaurant critic of the Malmö newspaper Sydsvenskan. These last few years, though, I focus solely on writing books. Not that it brings very much bread on the table and certainly not of the kind I got used to as a restaurant critic.
In this new millennium I started writing books in English.
Well, I had tried it during my year in the US, back in 1980. I even got an agency: Sanford J. Greenburger, which was the first one I approached (because it was the agent of Kurt Vonnegut, a favorite author of mine). They were almost ecstatic about another science fiction story of mine, with the drastic title All's End. The agent told me that after a US release they would use their contacts to get the book published in Japan! I had thought that America was the thing, but the agent insisted with emphasis: Japan!
Later, a pop song would make the same statement. It might still be true.
Anyway, the agency was unable to get a publisher for the script, so they dropped it and its author. Years later I could easily understand why. The script needed a lot of editing, which was something the agent didn't have to bother with, but surely a publisher.
So, a few years ago I picked up that script and another one in English, polishing their language as much as I could. Soon other books in English followed. You find them all on Amazon. Most of them are non-fiction, but often on subjects that some would call fictional. Well, that's where the human mind dwells.
Apart from the arts, my life has since the teens consisted of aikido, which is a particularly peaceful and inspiring Japanese martial art.
It took me surprisingly long to write a book about it, although I have a tendency to turn things that catch my attention into books. In the martial arts, you're supposed to be humble and shut up - an ideal diametrically opposed to that of literature. After twenty years of training and a few black belts around the hips I finally got the courage.
After the initial leap, writing more books about aikido and adjacent subjects has been less of a struggle. And I keep on practicing, with the same fascination I felt at my first encounter with it.
Aikido is intriguing, as are the cultural and philosophical traditions behind it. This is indicated by the many books published on the subject. I wouldn't hurry to call it a sport, although it's done by exercises that can consume a lot of calories. No, it's an art. That's why you can spend a lifetime on it, never getting bored.
So far in life I've found this to be a universal truth: with the arts you never get bored.
Another longtime interest of mine is Taoism, as it is expressed in its original source the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, the legendary father of this philosophy. I was introduced to it by my first Japanese aikido teacher, who gave me a copy of it in English - the Feng and English version with sweet calligraphy of all the chapters. Since then the text has been a constant companion. It combines the wisdom of a Salomon with the simple and direct language of, say, Hemingway - or, for that matter, Vonnegut.
My first version of it, in Swedish, was published in the early 1990's. I've made several revised editions of it since, but I never dreamed of trying it in English. Tao Te Ching is poetry, the greatest challenge of all for a translator. But at length I couldn't resist. I felt that in spite of the countless English versions of the classic, there's room for one more aiming at the simplicity of the original text and still staying true to it - as much as can be done with a book dated to several centuries BCE.
I was not a persistent art school student, but in the 1980's I enrolled in the history of ideas department of the university, where profound learning is both commonplace and a delight. Oh, how much knowledge some people (not me, with my poor memory) can amass! Lao Tzu, who was wary of formal knowledge, would have expressed concern. But the history of ideas studies wisdom through the ages and in all fields of science, culture, and society. It's the history of thought. What can be more fascinating? It's the mind studying its own manifestations.
Years ago, I started working on a dissertation treating the patterns of thought in creation myths around the world. It's still in the making, but other books have been born in the process, e.g. Cosmos of the Ancients, an inventory of what the Greek philosophers thought about the gods and cosmology, and Life Energy Encyclopedia, presenting and discussing the many ideas, old and new, about a life force of some kind.
Sooner or later I just have to write a book about creation myths, whether it is a dissertation or not. But the subject is big and I've explored it too long to be concise about it, so I hesitate.
And of course, there are still several novels in my head, struggling to get out. Fiction is what this writer started with and it's still the essence of my attraction to the keyboard. Oddly, it's by products of the imagination we grasp that elusive thing we call reality.