Tag Archives: Ingrid Magnusson Rading


Loo and behold, a privy-théque!

Thank goodness for far-flung friends and authors. Especially those carrying a camera. And with a sense for the quirky, and an idea that bookwitches might need something fun to write about.

I mean, you know I like toilets. In case one needs to go. Having been brought up on [summer] privies, I don’t mind them. They still exist in Sweden, often as the beach alternative to plumbing. (Or in someone’s simpler type of summer accommodation.)

There is also the longstanding tradition of reading when on the toilet (although I frown on this, because there could be a queue), and many keep some book or magazine handy.

Now Ingrid Magnusson Rading has been for a walk near the place she can still get to, and I can’t, and she made a discovery outside the old lifeboat station. No, not the privy. We knew about that. But its new purpose, complete with a sign and everything.

It’s now a library! And a privy. Or maybe more a swapping post. There are books. The sign says to take a book home if you like it, and to leave behind one that you reckon others would benefit from reading.

And the view! No longer available for those on the throne, as the inside of the new-ish facility has been turned 90 degrees. Before, if you didn’t crave privacy, you could enjoy the view by leaving the door open. Now though you’ll have to admire away before and after, rather than during.

And let’s hope book lovers will not enter as you go about your business!

Stack them high

I reckon she did everything right. When Ingrid Magnusson Rading felt she’d be getting nowhere with traditional publishers for her new children’s book Den hemlighetsfulla grottan, she decided to self-publish, just as she did with her coffee table book on Haverdal.

That one not only looked totally professional, but sold extremely well. They had to reprint within a week or two, and are now on the fourth edition.

So I knew that Ingrid and her husband would do a decent job with a children’s novel as well. I was shown the ‘prototype’ a few weeks before publication day, and could not find anything wrong with it. I don’t mean this badly, but it looked like every other children’s book. I know there is nothing wrong with self-published books looking a little homemade, but if they blend in, so much the better.

In the weeks leading up to publication day Ingrid also sent press releases out and contacted the local newspapers, several of which interviewed her and published a good spread about Ingrid and her book. She talked to local people who might sell it, like the bookshop in town and the local campsite, and the small local supermarket.

The photo below shows you what it’s like when you have not only sweets by the checkout, but books. Piles and piles of them (and this isn’t the only pile). And people are buying. The Resident IT Consultant went for milk one day, and the customer next to him bought a copy.

Ingrid Magnusson Rading, Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

That’s how it can work if you do your research on how to, and make sure you chat to the right people.

I asked Ingrid the other day how the sales figures were doing. I believe the only reason they are not already reprinting the book, three weeks in, is that this time they brazened it out and ordered more to begin with.

A chicken house book launch

Ingrid Magnusson Rading och Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

Yes, another launch. One I didn’t go to, but I had planned my holiday flights before I knew Ingrid Magnusson Rading was thinking of launching her new children’s book Den hemlighetsfulla grottan (The Secret Cave) at midsummer. In the chicken house.

Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

That is much better than you might think. Haverdal, where the book is set, has an old farm which has been restored to be used for public functions, and you can hire all or parts of it. And Ingrid has a fondness for the chicken shed, which is where she launched her first book, the coffee table one about Haverdal.

Annies Gård

It doesn’t get much more beautiful, or typically Swedish summer, than this. The weather was gorgeous. Naturally. And outside her shed the men put the finishing touches to the Maypole (yes, that’s what it is, even in June). I’d like to think that every visitor who came to dance round the pole, also popped in for a book from Ingrid.

Ingrid Magnusson Rading

On the second day she launched the book some more from her own cottage. They don’t believe in being lazy, these authors. They write and they bake. Mini muffins, since you wondered. And on day two I spied Ingrid’s lavender crisprolls. Recipe in the book.

Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

So I’d say there was only one thing wrong with this launch. I wasn’t there.

The cave of secrets

Or Den hemlighetsfulla grottan, as the title for this book – set in my holiday world – is in the original Swedish. The book, which I’d love to see translated, is a quiet fantasy adventure, set in today’s Haverdal with time-travelling to the past. I reckon that’s the best way to learn while also having fun. I’ve certainly discovered a lot about Haverdal’s past, which I’d previously been far too lazy to investigate.

Ingrid Magnusson Rading, Den hemlighetsfulla grottan

We have young Saga who’s staying with her grandparents for a week, and she ends up experiencing rather more than one sunny week near the beach usually offers. Her lovely grandmother gives her a magic stone, and with its help Saga travels to the past, where she somehow becomes Ellika, a young girl at the time, living with her large family in impoverished circumstances. And you know what they say about walking in someone else’s footwear. Although, shoes or boots are not plentiful in Ellika’s life.

Saga travels back and forth, and once she’s finished with the 17th century, it’s time for a visit to the quarries of a hundred years ago. Life was hard then, too, even if it wasn’t quite as bad as in the 1600s.

That magic stone has much to answer for. Life today might not have been what it is without it.

And what I said about a translation, was so tourists can also read the book and learn about the place they are visiting. It’s far more fun than your average tourism leaflet. If I was a child today, I’d love to be able to read a novel set all around me.

Saga’s saga

Never underestimate the entertainment value of history, and especially not the history all around you, where you live. I hinted earlier at having read the manuscript of a children’s book, written by a friend. That sort of thing can be quite awkward, as they could turn out to have written something really appalling. But I felt safe with Ingrid (Magnusson Rading) because not only is she both interesting and intelligent, but she had already written a gorgeous coffee table book about our shared summer paradise. So I knew she could write.

And unlike the young witch who used to imagine herself writing a Famous Five type book set in Haverdal, because there were so many intriguing settings all over the place, where villains could roam and all that, Ingrid not only stopped dreaming and set to work, but she chose a much superior format; a quiet fantasy adventure set in today’s Haverdal with time travelling to the past, using much of the research she did for her other book.

Jättastuans hemlighet – as it is currently called – is about a girl called Saga, who just might be Ingrid’s as yet unborn granddaughter. Saga’s gran bears a suspicious resemblance to someone I know, as does her grandfather and the cottage where she’s come to stay for a week. Jättastuan is a sort of cave near the beach, and Saga’s gran shares a secret with her on that first day.


And before you know it, Saga has been transported to the 17th century, where life was pretty hard. Instead of your normal time travel, Saga actually becomes Ellika, a girl who lived back then, and we see the family’s struggle to survive bad winters and failing crops. Learning about history like this brings it to life and makes it relevant in a way that pure facts never do.

There is time travel in the opposite direction too, with some hilarious descriptions of life today, as observed by someone from five hundred years ago. And when the reader has loved, and suffered with, Ellika’s family, we meet some much more recent historical characters from about a hundred years ago, set in and around the quarry that covers much of the area. So that’s more people to love and identify with, and more facts that come alive.

I think any middle grade reader would love this book. I’d have liked it when I was ten. I certainly enjoyed it now. And I wouldn’t mind more of the same (I believe Ingrid has ideas for another period or two from the past). If children still learn about their local area for history at school, Jättastuans hemlighet [The Secret of Jättastuan] would be a fantastic resource for teachers. And what could be better, education and fun all in one go?

Very local children would also enjoy knowing exactly where Saga goes, as I did. It’s an added bonus, but not essential. But as has been said recently, we like to find ourselves in books, and this will firmly place Haverdal children in literature.

Late to the party

She’s by no means ancient, but the Retired Children’s Librarian isn’t as young as she was. So it was much appreciated that she popped round for a couple of days, even if she was late for the party. On purpose.

Plane at Halmstad airport

Flying in from Stockholm to our local, rather small, airport, she wisely refrained from staying with us and went to a hotel in town. We had an Indian dinner, followed by ‘Indian’ coffee, which apparently wasn’t very good. This is a woman who only drinks water and coffee (many years ago when she really wanted to try muesli, she agonised over what liquid to have it with, and opted for coffee…)

I’d hoped to lure her into the – to her – new library, on the way from dinner to bed, but she declared it ugly and said no. I gather she is still in touch with her old boss who keeps her updated on who [from the library] has died in the last year, which is a helpful service to have.

Don Quijote at Särdals Kvarn

We had elevenses at the windmill, and she instantly recognised Don Quijote in the car park. ‘What’s he doing here?’ she asked. I suggested she stop and think about what the good Don usually does, and the penny dropped. (In fairness, my penny took years to drop.)

Went home and I was given my birthday present. We decided this was all right, as she’d not had the official invitation that said presents weren’t allowed. It was a book. Obviously. A new biography of Astrid Lindgren, by Dane Jens Andersen, and it looks very promising indeed.

Jens Andersen, Denna dagen ett liv

Then we fed her leftovers, and she read [my friend] Ingrid Magnusson Rading’s book on the local area, and was most impressed. She enquired about when I last spoke to Meg Rosoff, so I had to own up to having seen her only last week, and went on to show her Bookwitch’s thoughts of it all. The Retired Children’s Librarian is not into computers, so never reads what I write.

I offered her one of our copies of Meg’s I begynnelsen var Bob, but she replied ‘God forbid, no!’ which I suppose was appropriate.

And then she was returned to her hotel. On her request, I hasten to add. She also requested the scenic route via various seasidey places, the best café for coffee and cake, and her old block of flats. Also had a look at where the very young Bookwitch used to live, in the very olden days. A bit overgrown, rather like the witch herself.

The camping book event

Bokens Dag, Haverdals Camping

Starved of book events as I was, it took very little for Ingrid Magnusson Rading to persuade me to join her at the local camp site. Neither of us needed a ‘room’ so to speak, but she was invited as a local author, and I invited myself as the world renowned Bookwitch. It is a nice camp site, and were I not against depriving myself of many creature comforts, I wouldn’t mind holidaying there. After all, camp site owners don’t usually arrange book events, do they?

Bokens Dag, Haverdals Camping

There was a lovely large conservatory filled with tables and chairs for you to have your coffee and cinnamon bun at, in the most fashionable eclectic style. So that’s food and interior design covered. The local authors brought their books, which meant Ingrid showed off the latest printing of her gorgeous coffee table book on Haverdal.

Bokens Dag, Haverdals Camping

Cambridge based Therese Loreskär brought both her adult novels about her ‘blogging queen’ and some of her children’s books. She generously pressed a copy of her blogging book (Bloggdrottningen) into my hands, presumably feeling it suited me.

Bokens Dag, Haverdals Camping

Two more authors of children’s books, one of whom reputedly has a series of 40 books planned(!), were there, but due to some admin mix-up in my brain I have lost their names. Rest assured that they have names. Not to mention books.

Bokens Dag, Haverdals Camping

Being utterly Swedish, a ‘tree question’ event had also been prepared. This means you go for a walk, and as you find a sheet with a question on it fluttering in some tree or other, you answer it, and if you want to win, you don’t shout the answer out loud to everyone else standing around, scratching their heads regarding what Bamse ate to give him superstrength. (His granny’s special honey.)

Bokens dag, Haverdals Camping

The day ended with a visit from Ulrika Larsson, who is a third generation Halmstad bookseller. By then I had had to leave, seeing as Ingrid and I had a prior engagement with some friends from primary school that evening.

We’re on our way

Now, why am I going to link to an interview which most of you can’t read*? Or tell you about a book review with the same problem?

Because it would be a shame not to. Have I ever mentioned that the Resident IT Consultant likes books that are different from what I like? We dragged him off for some shopping as soon as he joined us on holiday. (That means he drove us to town where we ditched him, and went off to do our own thing, leaving him to do likewise.)

So he found a book, which he wanted to buy, and I let him, on the basis that I thought it’d make him happy and keep him quiet for a bit. It was about the place where we stay, so seemed suitable. Pretty pictures, if nothing else.

Haverdalsvy - omslag till Haver du sett Haverdal, av Ingrid Magnusson Rading

But, you know, we’d barely got back before he had to show me a map in the book and before I knew it, I found I was hooked. I began to read through the book for my own entertainment, rather than to just pretend an interest. It’s good, this Haver du sett Haverdal. It features places I know and people I’ve met, and is bursting with facts and beautiful pictures.

Then I mowed the grass one afternoon, and that is as good for the creative juices as ironing is. ‘I must interview her!’ I said to myself. If we are both in Haverdal at this time, I must interview Ingrid Magnusson Rading.

I trotted inside to check for means of contacting Ingrid and found a website for the book, including an about page different to what was in the book. I noticed the photo of her, which was different (=better) than the one in the newspaper. In a split second I realised that we had gone to school together, so I sent her a rambling email to that effect.

Before too long she was sitting on my sofa drinking tea and chatting non-stop. We even fitted in a short interview, but it was mostly chat. So, even though only five of my regular readers can read about Ingrid, or read the book, I still felt I should mention this.

The book is self-published, and has had two print runs in the less than two months it’s been out, and is currently oop, until the third edition comes (soon, I think). It is a fantastically well done job, both from the woman who decided she could write a book like this (her original intention was a small leaflet for private consumption…), and from her Resident IT Consultant who did all the technical, fiddly bits.

It’s a very professional book. And once someone has translated it into English, you can read it, but I would ask you to not all visit Haverdal at the same time. You’ll want to, but it’s a quiet-ish kind of place.

And now that I am back from there, I am already on my way elsewhere. Edinburgh, here we come! (I found last Saturday’s Guardian Review, where it said EIBF starts today [4th]. I nearly choked on my Weetabix.)

*I have been reminded that you can use online translation programmes. They aren’t all hopeless all the time.