I was born in Åse, a small village in Jämtland in the north of Sweden, between Östersund and Åre. My dad was a laborer. He worked in the village's lime mine at times and as a lumberjack at times. My mom was mostly home, taking care of the household. She also wrote family news from the community in a local newspaper; Östersunds-Posten.
All my mother's four siblings died of tuberculosis around the 1930's. The youngest one was only 17 years old. Their mother, my grandmother, also died in the same disease about that time. My father and all but one of his 10 siblings made it through to adulthood. A couple of them still live. But both my parents have now passed away.
I went to elementary school for six years and then continued my education in Östersund. After two years I quit the school and became a sailor. Soon after my 15th birthday, I took the train to Göteborg and went to the sailor's agency. There they organized for me to get a job as a galley steward. The ship's name was M/S Birkaland and belonged to the Swedish Orient Line.
My job included setting tables, washing the dishes, making beds and cleaning. There was no dishwasher. This job was hard in the beginning, because at home, my mom had taken care of things like this. Also, I got very sea-sick for three days while we went through the Bay of Biscay. That wasn't fun. On the other hand, it was a lot of fun when we were in port. Back then, the ships often loaded and unloaded their cargo at or right outside docks that were right in the middle of the city. Like in Istanbul or Haifa. Then it was easy to just take a stroll in the city when you had some time off.
Later I got a job at a wholesale store in Östersund. My job was to add order forms and write bills on an old typewriter. After a year I was bored by the job and wanted to do something else. My brother was in the military then. He was a sergeant at A4, an artillery regiment in Östersund. I thought it seemed like he had so much fun with his buddies so I wanted to be a sergeant too.
I started my training at A4, but after a while I felt I wouldn't make a good soldier. I didn't like shooting at people. I quit after my mandatory military service. My brother also got tired of the military and now works with film and photo. His website is http://www.videoproduction.nu
After the military service, I got hired at a big wholesale store in Östersund who sold groceries and other things to grocery stores in the whole of southern Norrland. I was in charge of making sure the stores shopping there paid their bills.
I also played clarinet in a dance orchestra during some short time periods. Mostly I played the clarinet. One orchestra was Crazy John and his Corny Boys. When I didn't play, I often went out dancing. I had Brylcreem in my hair so it wouldn't get frizzy. I also took dancing classes and learned all kinds of dances. Even traditional dances. I became very popular among the girls, because they liked those dances, but just a few of the guys knew how to dance hambo, schottische and other traditional dances.
When I got tired of the job at the wholesale store, I resigned and hitchhiked to the Mediterranean Sea.
After the summer of hitchhiking, I got a job at a store in Östersund that sold typewriters and calculators.
One day a beautiful girl passed by the window of the store and it was love at first sight.
Six months later, she and I moved to Härnösand together where she studied to become a school teacher. Her name was Inger. First I got a job in the office of a hardware store, then I boxed eggs in an egg packing factory, and then I worked for almost three years in a factory that produced plywood and other building materials. I was in charge of statistics and ordering.
When Inger was finished with school, we moved back to Jämtland where she got a job at a school and I got a job at an electrical firm. I took care of the office and the firm's store. After a few years I switched jobs and started working at the office of a large bakery in Östersund
In August of 1969, our twin girls were born, Nina and Susanne.
In November of 1970, Simon was born.
We decided that I was going to stay at home and take care of the children while Inger was working.
During the five years at home, I went to night school and finished high school. In 1973, I applied to college in Östersund. I was accepted, but at the same time I was offered a job at the electrical firm where I had worked earlier. And I took that job instead of going to college. By then the firm had new owners. I took care of the office and the store. The firm grew a lot during the 10 years I worked there.
In 1975, Inger and I got divorced.
In 1978, I got married to Gunilla. She brought Petra, born in 1972, and Pontus, born in 1974 to the family.
This photo was taken after our wedding in Visby, Gotland. From the left: Petra, Nina, me, Gunilla, Pontus, Simon and Susanne. I had bought my beautiful wedding shirt in Sri Lanka.
We bought a small farm outside Östersund. There we had horses, sheep, a couple of goats, pig, chicken, geese, dog and cats. We grew berries, vegetables and Christmas trees that we sold.
My daughters' interest in horses came to dominate the conversations around the dinner table. But later also gave me ideas for several horse books. Here Susanne, then 12 years old, rides our welsh pony Adrienne. Nina lives in Los Angeles now and is a dressage trainer. Her website is www.nwdressage.com
In 1984 I quit my job at the electrical firm, because I had decided to become an author. I wrote a manuscript for a youth novel and sent it to a publisher; Raben & Sjögren AB. They wanted to publish the book. Then I continued to write more. More about that at "My writing and my books".
At the same time I was writing, I also took care of the farm. The income from the writing was pretty insignificant to start with, but since I took all kinds of odd jobs, the finances were still okay. During the winters I cleared the roads and yards from snow, with my tractor, I worked as a teacher and so on.
This is my mother Ragna 30 years old, and my father Ragnar 35 years old, my brother Håkan six and mee one year old.
It was very exciting for a young boy from the forests of Jämtland. The montly salary was 290 kronor (approx. USD 40) before taxes and the working hours between 50 and 60 hours a week.
After a few months at sea, I returned to my home by the forest. First I had to continue my schooling as a lumberjack. After that, I got a job as delivery man at a grocery store in Östersund. Then as a mailman in Göteborg. Then I went back home again and worked at the lime mine in the village for a while. After that more work in the forest.
During the winters, I cleared roads and yards from snow with my tractor. In the spring, I plowed potato fields in the village with the tractor and sometimes I helped seeding lawns. I worked as a substitute at the school in the village and helped with odd jobs that people needed help with.
After I got more established as an author I started to get grants. Schools around the country wanted me to visit. Every fall I got some money from when people had borrowed my books in libraries.
But in spite of all these incomes trickleing in, I had, as most writers, a low income. I still enjoyed life and just made sure the expences weren't bigger than the income. I still do.
We sold the farm in 1999. Now I live in our house on Gotland (built in 1789) most of the time and Gunilla lives in her apartment on another island, Lidingö, near Stockholm. But most of the time we spend together, either on one of the islands or traveling abroad in the winter. Until now, I have visited approximately 80 countries all around the world.