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Hundgården - en skräckroman av Kristina Sigunsdotter

Thelma & Louise meets nordic horror in

The Dog Yard

A psychiatric hospital closes down and The Wolf, a childlike man, is sent back to the farm he was taken from when he was eight years old. Two newly in love women are on a roadtrip, only one of them aware of that they are going to the same place as the childlike man. The people in the village know that evil lives in that farm, but no one wants to talk about it. Especially not about what happened in the dog yard.

KRISTINA SIGUNSDOTTER

Kristina Sigunsdotter, born 1981, is a Swedish writer, artist and producer with a Bachelor of Science in Ethnology, English and Journalism, currently living in Malmö, Sweden. Her plays have been put on The Royal Dramatic Theatre and Stockholm City Theater. She is the inventor of The Poetry Factory, a workshop for young poets and she has been Project manager for The Stockholm Poetry Festival, The Children’s Poetry Festival and the literary club KLUBB 10TAL. She is honored for her language and her ability to portray young women in social disadvantage.

Bibliography

Hundgården
Skröna, 2017 (Horror fiction)

Min krokodil tror att den är en racerbil
Bonnier Carlsen, 2017 (Picture book)

Rovfåglar osv.
Neonprojektet, 2014 (Realistic fiction)

Sjöpojken
Tusculum, 2011 (Poetry)

Interview

Tell us about your book!

It stems from my fascination with the human psyche. I remember when I was little and read Barbro Lindgren’s Top Secret and Pages on Fire. I was enthralled by her descriptions of the patients at Beckomberga psychiatric hospital. That’s also where my novel begins. Beckomberga closes down and the mental patients are to be integrated into society.

Without saying too much, I have also been inspired by feral children, ie children who grew up without human contact, raised by animals. Like Oksana Malaya, the girl who lived most of her eight first years with dogs, the wolf boy Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja and ”Bird Boy” in Volgograd, the boy who could only quit like a bird. It is the fate of these children, and the feelings they raised in me, which created the seed to writing The Dog Yard.

One thing that was very important to me was to write a book with several strong female characters. Something like Thelma and Louise meet Nordic horror. Actually, I started writing The Dog Yard as a movie script.

Has that affected the novel?

Perhaps the fact that it all started as scenes has made the text a little more intense. And the characters in the novel are quite clear. It is probably easy to read that way. Maybe a little flirty. Lightskirt, if a horror novel can be that.

The novel centers around an abandoned farm in the Tornedal forests. You lived in a cabin in the woods yourself when you wrote the book …

Yes. I had to leave Stockholm. Had to feel free and then I have to have forest around me. I lived alone in the farm where my dad grew up, with rusty machines and an old empty barn. The feeling of abandonment was a great inspiration when writing The Dog Yard. There is something tickling in abandoned houses. The traces of animals and humans.

Were you never afraid?

I feel safer in the woods at night than I do in the city in the day. Even though I love being out with my friends, I’m a bit of a loner. It happened that I scared myself, but I think I was tougher then. I have become a mother since I started writing the novel and when doing the final editing, I felt like ’f**k, who is the person who wrote this?’.

It sounds pretty romantic too, moving to the countryside to write.

Yes, I’m a sucker for romance. And in fact, The Dog Yard is a love story.

In what way?

The traditional way in which love fights evil. But the lovers in the novel are everything but traditional!

There are some heavy sex scenes …

Yes … *laughing* Even though Swedish writer Bodil Malmsten once wrote to me: “Continue with the novel Kristina, get your ass on, and no porn!” I simply can’t help myself. But I try to avoid metaphors like “cave-diving” and “hiding the salami.” I know many writers skip profound sex scenes, but I love writing about sex.

What is the best thing about writing?

When I get affected by my own text, in this case, when the text scares me. Or when I manage to describe something in a new way. That’s my darling. The language is incredibly important to me. I’m extremely fussy with chosing my words. And of course I love to hear about my readers’ reactions.

How is your relationship with the readers?

I love my readers. I received a letter from a girl once saying I was her ghost sister. That’s how I feel, they are my ghost sisters. And ghost brothers!

Which writers inspire you?

It really depends on what I’m writing at the moment. Everything from Bodil Malmsten to Stephen King. Sara Stridsberg and John Ajvide Lindqvist of course. My friend Ester Eriksson’s comics are damn fun, smart and inspiring. Monika Fagerholm has been my mentor when writing Hundgården and I love her style. When writing for children, Ulf Stark has been my biggest source of inspiration. I wrote my first scene for the theater in his play Apiara and since then he has been my mentor when writing for children. I miss him terribly.

Your last book was published by children’s book publishing company Bonnier Carlsen. And now horror fiction?

Maybe it’s a little schizo. But I like mixing, writing both really cute and really creepy stuff. It’s important to have some balance in life ha!

The Dog Yard is set in the nineties, why?

Because I love the nineties. The music. The movies. The fashion. It’s my decade. The one I know best. It was an exciting time, just before social media began to control people’s lives. The nineties were as radical as they were innocent. A lot happened in society. Just think about the healthcare reform in Sweden when all mental hospitals suddenly shut down.

Who were you in the nineties?

In the nineties I went from being a child to almost being an adult. In 1995, when the book takes place, I was fourteen years old. I lived in the back-waters of a small town, read books, listened to punk and wore Dr. Martens so trashed that the steelcaps were showing. I loved Sex Pistols and hated hockey guys. Especially one named Anders, whose favorite job was to pounce on girls. He did not like me being a feminist and all, always stuck behind me on the bus and kicked my seat all the way home. That’s why there’s almost always one evil person in my books called Anders.

And who are you now?

A milf pulling a stroller in Malmö! Actually … my nephew once said that I’m a “child-adult” which I think is a great compliment. I like to play with my son August. Especially in the forests and the city’s magic parks. I’m also a wife to my husband Johan who is a neuroscientist.

But just as the hour of the wolf passes on to morning, when the family is still asleep and it’s almost night, then I’ll get up to be a writer. It’s a particularly good time for writing horror novels.

Press info

Release date: December 11th 2017
Interviews and review copies: press@skrona.se
www.skrona.se
www.kristinasigunsdotter.se

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