Ninni Schulman

Ninni Schulman is the author who achieved success with her award-winning books on the Hagfors journalist Magdalena Hansson. She talks about her desire to highlight rural areas in literature, to get a perspective on the good things in her home town and the sense of community that is built by local anecdotes.

The author Ninni Schulman, born and raised in the mill town of Lesjöfors, has so far released three crime novels that are played out in Värmland. Although she has lived in Stockholm for almost twenty years, Ninni Schulman is passionate about highlighting rural areas in general and Värmland in particular in her books.

“in some way it was so obvious that I would write about Hagfors. Partly because I could write about my own experiences of living and working there are partly because it felt so damned important to write about the part of Sweden that is so far away from the big towns and cities. An area that people move away from and where houses are pulled down because they are no longer lived in. Many books are played out either in Stockholm or in some tourist idyll, in the crime genre in any case, so it felt really important for me to put these communities on the map”, explains Ninni.

Ninni’s first novel ”The Girl with Snow in her Hair” (Flickan med snö i håret) was released in 2010. The fact that she placed the heroin Magdalena Hansson in Hagfors and have her work as a local editor was actually as a result of Ninni herself having moved from her own existence as such a journalist in Hagfors to Stockholm.

“If I had remained it would have been extremely difficult to write about the town. People would feel singled out, but now they know that it’s just fiction. And if I had stayed here  I would not have had an insight into what makes these places really unique. I left my home town as quickly as I could because I thought it was too small and confined, but with a little perspective I have a more nuanced image of these places. When I was twenty I thought it was annoying that everybody knew each other, but now I ca\n see that there is consideration and an commitment in that everybody keeps an eye on what happens to everybody else.  I would not have been as compassionate if I had stayed here.

According to Ninni, the storytelling culture of Värmland is alive and well, but she does not believe that this is specific to the county.

“This tradition about stories becomes even more interesting when people have a common ground. For example, that this is about some acquaintance with a strange nickname that everybody knows who has done something stupid that people all laugh about. I think this is something special, but perhaps not specific to Värmland but in general to people from sparsely-populated areas. The fact that people tell stories, tall tales and anecdotes.  The story lives on in some way and it is passed on by recounting it in an often very entertaining way. This creates a sense of community and connectedness.

Text: Fridah Jönsson

Ninni’s top Värmland tip:

  • Filipstad. A very good town that I like to go back to.
  • Lesjöfors Museum. The museum, which was nominated as the best in Europe, is well worth a visit. It’s easy to get to and is easily-accessible.
  • The Lerin Museum. Lars Lerin is my big idol - I love him both as a person and as an artist. A visit to hos museum at Sandgrund in Karlstad is a must.
  • Ekshärad. If you want to see the real Värmland, I think you should go to Ekshärad and wander round the churchyard. The church is very beautiful and they have very special grave crosses, so-called “tree of life”, with small cast iron leaves that rustle when the wind blows. The road along Klarälven that winds its way up is a beautiful experience in itself..

Ninni Schulman’s books:

  • Flickan med snö i håret (2011)
  • Pojken som slutade gråta (2012)
  • Svara om du hör mig( 2013)
  • Vår egen lilla hemlighet (2015)
  • Välkommen hem (2016)