Paula and Christina travelled once again to Gothenburg (don’t miss their report about the Roxette Diaries premiere about a month ago!) to visit the book fair in Gothenburg where Marie Fredriksson and Helena von Zweigbergk book was presented. Helena also participated in a couple of talks about the book and answered questions about the process of writing the book. A review of the book is on its way!
Arriving at around 10:30 to a massive long line at the main entrance. It was amazing the amount of people wanting to get in! It seems this fair gets bigger and bigger for every year… Luckily by asking around we were told about a side entrance and we could basically go straight in – thumbs up!
Once inside we went on the hunt for both the Pirat Förlaget stand as well as the VI-magazine stand, since the new issue of the magazine features an interview with Marie and Helena, who are also on the cover of the magazine.
Once at the VI stand we talked to the staff and told them we had many requests to buy the magazine, telling them their issue would go out into the entire world. We ended up buying 20 copies for different friends. They were very happy with this as they said it was the biggest sell of the day! Also they were very surprised to hear just how big and popular Roxette still is out there in the big big world. It is peculiar this thing with so many Swedish people STILL not knowing how big and famous Roxette is, how they still tour around and fill arenas and sell out concerts.
At the VI stand there was also a huge poster showing the cover of the magazine hanging as the background of their tiny stage. It was so nice to see!
After buying these many magazines at VI, we crossed the aisle and entered the rather big and fancy stand belonging to Pirat Förlaget, the publishing company releasing Marie’s book. The stand and area were big and had many authors presenting their latest books. There were many shelves with books everywhere and there were more Marie posters and photos to welcome us. The one that blew our minds out the most was the amazing entire body picture with Marie on the door to the authors’ “backstage area” (that Judith posted yesterday on Facebook!). We immediately felt right at home!
Helena Von Zweigbergk would first be doing a seminar talk at 12:30, to which you had to have the special seminar ticket in order to enter (very expensive one so we didn’t have that…), but we knew she would be doing 15min talks at Pirat Förlaget’s stage at 13:50 and 16:20.
We had a stroll around the fair before returning to this stage by 13, in order to get a good spot. (There were continuous talks only separated by 2min breaks throughout the entire day with several famous Swedish authors such as Jan Guillou, so you can imagine the crowd!). It was a nice and interesting experience to be able to hear so many different authors talking about their books and inspirations and ways of writing!
When Helena finally came on stage she was interviewed by journalist and TV-presenter Fredrik Belfrage (he worked for Swedish television and radio for several years and had a well known TV-show in Sweden called “Go’morron Sverige”… And even presented the “Melodifestivalen” a couple of times). During this first talk Helena explained the whole reason for the book and how it came about. The second talk was very similar to the first, but there are some slight differences and details she added or omitted. Stina filmed all of the second talk and you can find it on YouTube and a summary in English on Facebook.
The first talked started with the journalist asking Helena how the whole idea of the book started. Helena said that Marie Dimberg (Marie’s manager) called her and asked her if she could consider writing Marie’s biography and she described how she in the first place was very doubtful about it since she had met Marie before and thought it had been so tough to get contact with her. She even mentioned that she interviewed Marie many years ago and how she felt through the whole interview, how Marie did not like to be interviewed and talk. But she went to her place one day and then and there she met a completely different Marie, very open and with such a will to make this happen. She said it was a whole long process as Marie has difficulties reading, Helena listened to her, made notes, wrote and then she would read it to Marie and together they took out parts and changed words, or added new things Marie remembered.
Helena also mentioned that Marie only got the book the day before and also that she called Marie in the morning and asked her what she would like her to say to the audience who was going to listen to her talks. Marie had answered to please tell them “I am ok, I feel fine and tell them what a great time and how much fun we had while making the book together.” Helena said that Marie is quite tired of always being related to her illness and all the negative part of her life. So she really wanted Helena to tell people she’s so happy. Actually, at the end of this first talk, Helena took out her smartphone and told the audience that as Marie couldn’t be there herself she wanted to film us all saying HI to her, and that she was going to send it right away to her [Helena posted the video on Facebook too].
This journalist Fredrik also talked about Marie in a very nice way and was very good at keeping a smooth flow during the whole interview which for many moments actually felt more like a conversation between him and Helena, almost forgetting audience was there. He said he would never forget the time when they held Olof Palme’s funeral on TV. He was there and he really wanted Marie to perform “Mot okända hav” and how he called her in the very last minute thinking she wouldn’t make it but she did and it was for him an unforgettable and touching moment. He also mentioned he was happy to read in the book that Marie herself remembered that day! And Helena added that Olof Palme had meant a lot to Marie and her family, being a role model to look up to.
A nice and funny moment was when Fredrik asked Helena – after having mentioned some of the consequences Marie’s illness – what Marie does to remember the texts and lyrics of the songs now that they are touring so much. Helena talked about how Per and Marie had joked about that themselves when Per was making comments to Marie such as: “hey, you forgot the lyrics before too so what’s the big deal?”… Or “… Worst case you just point out the microphone to the audience so they sing along!” … And then she explained how Marie sits down with her son Oscar and together sing and go through the lyrics so she keeps them in her memory! It was funny and tender to hear this!
Helena also talked about Per and Marie’s different personalities and even music taste… Per being pop and very order freak and Marie being more rock and soul and more “messy” … And how those differences make them complete each other so well and how this has contributed in the creation of the Roxette sound we all know and love so much.
Also she told us that after the last surgery Marie had, she went through her worst period. She was blind on one eye, couldn’t read or write, got easily lost, had problems with her balance and barely remembered anything and that she was also suffering from aphasia (some form of inability to talk and produce words) for a long period of time. Marie felt locked inside her own world as in a bubble. But then suddenly one day, out of the blue, the tones of Dangerous came to her mind and she started humming the melody. And that is why Roxette has become such a very important part of Marie’s recovery as she little by little started remembering again.
After both talks Helena signed the book for those interested and we each had ours signed of course, followed by a VERY nice chat, where Helena thanked us for being there. We asked her if it was ok we filmed the second talk for all the fans to be able to listen and watch. And she said of course!
After the second talk we waited for her just to say thank you and goodbye and we asked her to greet Marie many times and tell her thank you from all of us.
We were so happy and overwhelmed with this whole experience. It was so so so nice to be there and listen to Helena. Get the book, see all the books and posters.
After the second talk we sat down somewhere upstairs away from the massive amount of visitors, to have a moment to go through the many, some new to us, photos in the book and we were caught on camera by one of the official book fair photographers having NO idea he had taken photos of us. He came up to us afterwards asking for permission to use them and he showed us a series of photos showing all of our reactions: pointing, smiling, laughing, being amazed, surprised, completely sucked into the world of the pages like only books can do.
Christina Tholander and Paula Cafiero Högström