Lena Carpelan – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

The Adventures of the Blackberry Hill Kids introduces Anna Sjöholm Masters, a calm, efficient Swedish-American career woman who, after 11 childless years of marriage has an unexpected attack of “horrormones,” loses her mind, and begs her husband for a baby.

The result is the Blackberry Hill kids, an endearing trio of rapscallions who cheerfully romp through life as their rapidly aging parents try to keep order in the midst of chaos.
From the time bilingual Collin counts to sex at Wal-Mart, to struggling readers who stumble through “the itchy, bitchy spider,” to reports from school (“Ashlee got a splinter in her butt and showed it to us for show and tell”), to an insider look at pets, camping, family vacations, playing games, the endless quest to be biggest and best, to surviving the teen years (“How can you have cold feet when you’re such a ‘hottie’?”– “Well, Mamma, heat rises, you know!”) this collection of effervescent freeze frames, one liners, skits, and letters captures the essence of exuberant family life.

Tell us something about yourself.

A former newspaper editor and long-time advertising copy writer, I was born in Sweden and also lived in Italy and Switzerland before coming to the United States as a teenager. My three sedate, well-mannered children bear no resemblance whatsoever (!) to the Blackberry Hill kids, and all names have been changed to protect the guilty…

What inspired you to write this book?

I come from a family of story tellers. We love to laugh, and look at the zany side of life. These tales are from the notes I’ve kept through the years of child rearing. I often ran out of the room, smothering laughter, to write down what had happened… and then returned to discipline the darlings.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I self-published to have more control over the process, as well as to get going with the distribution process. However, the book went through a series of professional edits first, and I appreciated how that helped shape my manuscript.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

As a child in Stockholm, I wrote a weekly “newspaper” for family and friends, and I’ve never stopped writing. I am related to Bo Carpelan, the Finnish author, and he was an inspiration to me.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Reading what I’ve written… and realizing how much it work it needs… and how I’m not Jane Austen!

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned just how much work it is to write a book!

What are you reading now?

I like to read what my children are reading, so Rolland Smith’s “Zack” and “Jack” books right now.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I am a hopeless Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery aficionado… they provide an escape from a stressful world. And I love James Herriot and Alexander McCall Smith. What a beautiful command of language! And what wit and wisdom!

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

There are three picture books about the Blackberry Hill kids in the works.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

If this is something that is in your heart, go for it. If you MUST write or perish, then carve out the time to write. Don’t be discouraged. Do it for yourself first, not for fame or recognition.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I went to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference in April to learn all about social networking and marketing. It was extremely helpful. I am writing a blog as a sequel and continuation to the book, with more humor from the Kids!