Jules Nilsson and the canine stars of her new book series. Photo: Jules Nilsson
UK native and children's author Jules Nilsson tells The Local about leaving London for the Swedish coast, how dogs inspired her new book series, and what fans can expect at her reading in Stockholm on Saturday.
Jules Nilsson, 36, has been in Sweden for four years after leaving the busy streets of London for a life of serenity on the coastline of southern Sweden.
"Rather than choosing Stockholm, Gothenburg, or Malmö, we chose Ljunghusen in a forest on the beach," she tells The Local.
Ljunghusen, on the island of Fasterbo, became home for Nilsson and her family of five, but she admits she had to buy a dog "to bribe the children into coming along".
"They chose a big black Schnauzer who needs two hours of walking a day or he'll go crazy," Nilsson says with a laugh.
"But it meant that I was suddenly forced out in the spring, summer and winter, and spend time with the dog on the beaches. It was the most phenomenal experience I've ever had."
But turning the experience into poetry and painting wasn't an immediate choice for Nilsson, who dabbled in art dealing and designing furniture before deciding the Scandinavian art scene wasn't for her.
And when the Brit came across another two local dogs who lived in the area, the visuals were simply too gripping for her to keep to herself.
"The three of them made an amazing visual picture, with their different colours and characters... living these idyllic lives. I realized that children around the world aren't exposed to such things. Children in London or Johannesburg don't know that the sea can freeze over," she says.
The result was The Hounds of Falsterbo, a five-part series of picture books and rhyming couplets.
Nilsson paints a pretty picture of Falsterbo over the phone, talking about the wild animals, the clear water, and the smell of pine forests. It appears her paintings of the same scenes have proved just as alluring. And it's not just the kids who are enjoying it.
"It's nice to have a book around the house that you can enjoy equally as a reader, rather than these hideous, garish fantasy books. This is a great coffee table book, even the grown-ups like to pick it up and have a flick through," she says.
And the book has been swept up by the public. Nilsson says she sold 500 copies before she even had a copy printed for herself thanks to wild pre-release demand.
Now, she is working on promoting the books, and has already talked at bookshops in Malmö and London. Another session is planned for Stockholm's English Shop in Söderhallarna on Saturday afternoon at 1pm, where she will read from the books, sign copies, and run a Q&A session.
A Swedish translation of the books is scheduled for the summer, together with an audio version that will be available online.
And what next for the dog-loving author?
"Well, the subject matter is so primal: the beach, the relationship between humans and dogs...I think it would be awesome to have a mini-series," Nilsson tells The Local.
"These dogs are going to be very famous one day, and personally I think it's lovely to be able to share a bit of Sweden with the world."
- Location - The English Shop, Söderhallarna 134, Stockholm
- Date - Saturday 8th February
- Time - 13:00 - 14:00
- Books' official website here