This is amazing – one of my readers translated the whole interview with me in Göteborgsposten! This must have taken some time and yes, I’m impressed. I have to publish this.
And while “i am at the wire”, I can tell you, if you didn’t know, that you can find all my english posts on the right side of my blog, among the cathegorys:
Here we go with the interview:
[The anonymous translator:] I made a translation for this interview. It is not perfect. But I do not think it will misinterpret what Sonja said in any way.
Who are you?
- I am, hmm, it is always very difficuilt to describe yourself. Well, I am simply a northlander (inhabitan of Norrland, original word: norrlänning) in Kungälv.
Where in Norrland did you grow up?
- In Latikberg, a small village outside of Vilhelmina. When I was little we used to kid about how it would sound if Leif Loket Olsson (a host of a TV-Show) would pronounce the name of our village if anyone from here would call in to Bingolotto. Lattikkberrrj, we said and laughed.
How was it to grow up there?
- It was very good, but in hindsight I have come to understand that it was kind of special. A little like Bullerbyn (the village from Astrid Lindgren’s The Children of Noisy Village) except without the idyll. The best thing was that you got to run around freely as a child. I love nature, to run with the sheep and the cows, even though I am a bit scared of the cows.
But that sounds quite idyllic?
- It was kind of messy, I have four siblings and we had quite a lot of pets. For a while my sister had 13 guineapigs, ten rats and a chinchilla in her room. That was not a idyll.
Why did you become a blogger and columnist?
- I have always liked to express myself. Really, I would like to become a writer, but it is also fun to come up with other sort of things. When I was little me and my little sister used to have a newspaper of our own home on the Western Road (the name of their street) in Latikberg. It was called The Western Road News and we delivered it to everyone who lived there, like two people. But they had subscription numbers and all that.
Do you recollect any news?
- We made up a lot. For example that the King of Sweden came to visit and needed to use the phone to call home to Silvia (the Queen of Sweden).
You moved to Gothenburg 2004. Why was that?
- I just wanted to move away from there. And I had been on a school trip to Gothenburg once when I was 12 or 13. So I thought, lets move there. And so we did, me and the father of my children. Although that was before any of the children were born, I was 19 years old.
Did you know anyone here (in Gothenburg)?
- No, no one. I would like to move away from here but that is not possible at the moment, I have the kids. I would preferably move somewhere in the proximity of Vilhelmina, it is so nice there, and I like nature so much. But one thing that is good about Gothenburg is that there aren’t any mosquitos, which is something I enjoy every single day. And also I have come to enjoy living here more and more anyways.
What is your living situation at this point?
- I live in an apartment, not even close to nature. But I do enjoy the cowlands, which is situated close to Willys (a supermarket).
You blog and tweet as “Hej Sonja”, make radio-columns and video-sketches. And you have studied to become a journalist at Nordiska folkhögskolan in Kungälv. How would you like yourself to be titled?
- Entertainer I guess. DN wrote that I was a comedian, which felt good. On the other hand, when I was called “mom-blogger”, it did not feel alright at all. I entertain, that is what I do. I like to make people feel good. My dream is to be able to take care of myself financially by doing this. At the moment I get by, but not well.
What do you make a living on then?
- The columns, the blog and some saved parent days.
To build a brand as a blogger seems to be important to sustain. How do you manage it?
- I don’t think that way. I have probably destroyed my brand a long time ago in that case. At least when it comes to other job opportunities.
A week in June you represented Sweden on twitter. The thought is that you are supposed to answer questions and tell things about yourself and the country. How did you end up being @Sweden?
- They e-mailed me and asked. It was only a couple of days before and I said Ok. I think that the people at Visit Sweden are pretty cool, how they are managing the project. It is really awesome.
The amount of followers doubled during “your” week. The attention, but also the criticism, came when you started to tweet on the theme that you did not know anything about Jews. Why did you do it?
- I have a hard time knowing when something is controversial, and a hard time knowing what is okay to talk about. This also applies to parties and other social events. I think those sort of things are hard. I do not think that the things I wrote on twitter were controversial. But abroad it seemed to be very infectious to use the word Jew at all, unless you do it with the utmost care.
New York Times, BBC, CNN, well several of the worlds largest newspapers and tv-stations reported about your tweets. How did you handle it?
- Yea, I do not really know which newspaper that did not brought it up. They had reacted on different things, someone called me anti… anti…, I can barely pronounce the word… antisemitic. Then there were others who called me uneducated, who thought I should have read a book instead. BBC even called me a Justin Bieber-hater because I had written that in Sweden we accept Justin Bieber-fans. It all came from me reading american forums where JB-fans get a lot of crap and what I said was that it is not like that here in Sweden.
How did it feel like to be questioned?
- It felt as if, “okay, I did not know about this, what was I suppose to do about it”. I was pretty surprised personally that I did not care more about it. They attacked me because there were things that I did not know. But I already knew that I did not know these things. If you are antisemitic only because you do not know anything about jews, well what am I supposed to do then?
Visit Sweden defended you and did not think that you had crossed the line. On the other hand they said that they already knew beforehand that you were controversial. Are you?
- It is very rarely that someone gets upset with me on my blog, so I do not think that is true in my opinion. Although I think you should be able to talk about anything. Then again it also depends on how you talk about it. But sure, there already seems to be certain things that you are not allowed to talk about at all, it just ends up wrong no matter what angle you choose.
A lot of people are probably scared of losing face and seem ignorant. You?
- Not at all. I am not even afraid to be called a racist. I would rather put out my thoughts and risk to be accused of things than to sit around and hold things in if I for example was wondering about something. A lot of people have called me dimwitted and stupid, but I only feel like “alright, feel that way”. It is probably Swedes who have been angriest because they have been ashamed what a horrible view I have given of Sweden. A lot of people got upset when I wrote that I had found drugs in the baby-carriage room in my house.
Have you gotten any reactions on the streets of Kungälv?
- It was one person who asked me to sign up for Amnesty. When I said no the person said “Wow, you are hejsonja”. That is it.
What have you brought along with you after the week as @Sweden?
- There has really been a lot that has been good about it. People have written to me and I have gotten to learn much about other countries and about jews as well for that matter. It all has been very nice. I have learned a lot and I would not take way anything.
You are going home to Vilhelmina this summer. What is the first thing you are going to do once you get there?
- The first thing I usually do is to stop by Frasses and buy hamburgers. They have several great fries-seasonings, which is kind of their speciality. But that is not what will happen this time around. I will probably head straight to my sister. She is very healthy and she says that my favorite-spice contains ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) substances so I can not eat it anymore.
Except going home to Norrland you do not really enjoy traveling. How come?
- There is so many things you have to think about. Packing, flight-times and there is always something that you have forgot. There are still places in Kungälv that I have not yet visited. Do I really need to travel to Thailand in that case?
No tropical island you are longing for?
- Nah, it mostly seem hot and hellish in my opinion.
What will you be doing in five years from now?
- I have a hard time planning, even a day ahead. But I would like to work with radio, sketches, preferably along with other people who are inspiring and fun.
Who could that be?
- I really like Klungan and Moms new guy. Other then that I like Björn Gustavsson, he could also possibly get to be an extradad for my children. And other then that I think that the comedian Jennie Wiberg and I have talked some about taking over the world from a trailer-van.
We end the interview with a lunch at the sushibar Gari in Kungälv, a place that Sonja likes. She breaks her fortune cookie apart and roll up the little note which was placed inside. It promises that something big is on its way: “Your skill will accomplish what the skill of many others can not.”