Spotlight: Stockholm Writers Festival

Spotlight: Stockholm Writers Festival

Known internationally for Swedish Noir and legendary authors, it’s only fitting that Stockholm is hosting the hottest new English-language festival in town – The Stockholm Writers Festival.

Established in 2017, the Stockholm Writers Festival (SWF) is a non-profit association of authors, poets, professional copywriters and academics in Stockholm, Sweden. The annual festival focuses on developing skills, navigating the world of publishing, and fostering a growing community of international writers.

SWF gives you the opportunity to polish your craft, build industry contacts and join a community of established and emerging authors. Whether you are just starting out as a writer or finishing your latest manuscript – our 2018 Festival aims to help you find your path to published.

So, Slow Travel Stockholm caught up with festival organizer Catherine Pettersson to learn more about the inaugural Stockholm Writers Festival which will be held from April 13-15, 2018.

What inspired the Stockholm Writers Festival?  Why now?

PETTERSSON: Stockholm has a big community of English-language writers. You can see it in groups like the Stockholm Writers Group which has been around since the 1990s, or Meetups like Cassie Gonzales‘ that have more than 2,000 subscribers.

Over the years I’ve traveled to other countries in Europe to go to writers’ events and always asked myself, “Why don’t we have anything dedicated to English here?” I mean, if Italy, which isn’t exactly known for being multi-lingual, has English-language gatherings, why not Stockholm?

Why this year? Because the frustration finally built to a point where it was like, “Why NOT this year?”

Who are the people and partners behind the festival? 

We have so many amazing partners. For starters, Berghs School of Communications. They’re a leading school for marketing and advertising, and professional education. Berghs has an international profile and looked to increase that by donating the facility to us. Then there’s Antalis. They distribute beautiful, high-tech paper products and gave us materials and printing for our program and for other elements at the Festival.

The de Groot Foundation funded our literary award: the First Pages Prize. The English Bookshop has supported us, and will sell books by our authors on site. They are a beacon of community-building in Sweden for English-language literature and we’re among their many fans. Stockholm University’s Adnan Mahmutovic is on our board and is teaching an intensive session on Sunday, April 15, about “Finding fiction in truth.

And we have a troop of volunteers who have given their time and passion for literature to creating a great event. It’s been an amazing experience to tap into that energy.

Who are the ideal attendees for this festival? What will they gain by attending?

We’ve designed the Festival to appeal to a range of writers from across genres and experience levels. So whether you just started your sci-fi novel, or you’re toying with the idea of finally writing a tell-all memoir, you’ll find something at the Festival.

What will they gain? We’ve themed this year’s event, “Find your path to published.” So, we want to connect them with industry knowledge and craft instruction that will help them do just that: publish. And “find their tribe,” meeting other writers.

Because writing is a lonely business. And the landscape is complex. Especially now in the age of digital. We want people to have resources available all-year round to help them build a career in writing in any form.

What should we look forward to with this inaugural festival?

Fun. We have such a knowledgeable faculty (like, um, you, for instance, Lola!)  But they’re also friendly, open people. This process can be so alienating. And just downright discouraging. Through the Festival, we want to put our arms around writers from here and abroad and connect them to a spirit of excitement, fun, love and support.

What are your future plans for the festival?

We’d like to scale it. It’s funny because in our very earliest discussions we were like, “Can we attract 30 people?” We decided to “go big or go home” and make it 100. And we’ve sold all but 10 tickets, which tells me the time is ripe for this idea. So we’d like to build our numbers in the future.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I’d like to add that we have amazing intensive workshops, including one taught by an inspirational woman. Her name is Lola. And her session is Sunday, April 15 at 9 a.m. Here’s a link to the schedule. Lola’s session will help you when it comes to “Upping your travel writing game.” Take that class! (But you have to buy one of our last tickets, first!)

Thank you Catherine Pettersson and we’re looking forward to the Stockholm Writers Festival!

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Author: Lola A. Åkerström

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer, photographer, and travel blogger, and is also the Founder/Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative. She tweets at @LolaAkinmade.

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