Have you ever visited THE SQUEEE? Traxy loves blogging about books, drama and Richard Armitage. So, as you can see, we've got much in common. She has accepted to be my  guest today and answer my nosey questions! Moreover , she has granted you a ...
If you go through her interview and leave a comment,  you'll have the chance to win a book: “Speaking With The Angel”.  Don't forget to add your e-mail address and good luck! Winner will be announced next Monday 17 May.

Before starting with my questions, Traxy, do you mind telling us something about yourself? Whatever comes to your mind. Sure thing, Maria Grazia, and thank you for having me! I'm originally from Sweden, not far from Gothenburg on the west coast. In early 2004, I met, fell in love with and got engaged to an Englishman, and by the end of the year, I had moved to Nottingham to live with him, and we recently celebrated our second wedding anniversary! At the moment, I'm working toward an undergraduate degree in Psychology and work as a web administrator.
Aside from blogging, I love reading, writing, watching films, web designing, animals, photography, swimming, cooking, wandmaking, online role-playing, herbal tea and trying to grow my own vegetables.

Swedish, then. What about starting our chat with your new life in England for love. What is living in Nottingham like?

 As my favourite Disney movie is Robin Hood, I thought it’s funny that I should meet a guy from Nottingham and end up living here. Sadly, Nottingham Castle isn’t a turreted marvel of the middle ages – it’s a late 19th century mansion, looking more like a cake than a castle. Other places we’ve been to have really embraced their heritage, and you can’t move for sightseeing buses in York or Dublin, but Nottingham? There’s (almost) nothing! Central Nottingham is generally disappointing and, in many parts, an ugly place to be brutally honest. As Nottingham is internationally famous for Robin Hood, an outlaw, it’s ironic that the town is infamous for a high crime rate today! Nottingham City Council is trying to cash in on the Robin Hood stuff this month because of the release of Ridley Scott’s new movie Robin Hood but I think a lot more can be done in the tourist department, so that “Make Nottingham Proud” isn’t just a cheesy slogan, but a city we really can be proud of.

What do you especially miss of your native country?
Aside from my family, who I miss a lot, I miss how organised things are in Sweden, and the food (IKEA’s food court has some things, but far from everything). I miss Swedish nature. There’s a thing you can call “national romanticism” and that Swedes are very keen on (according to a book). Our national anthem is about nature and how beautiful and serene and quiet the place is, and it’s more of a love song and a nostalgic look at past glory to than a passionate call to arms. I was never a big fan of Sweden when I lived there, but now ... gosh. I think it’s a generic ex-pat thing, that you all of a sudden become super-patriotic regarding your home country! If I moved back, I bet it wouldn’t be long before I’d be complaining about how much better things were in the UK!

You’ve got a very pretty blog, The Squeee. Your style is amusing and sparkling and I like the background and the colours you’ve chosen. Have you created the template yourself?
Oh, thank you very much! I’m so glad you like it. I was going to create a template myself, as I had done a few simple ones before, but when I saw all the code they had added for the gadgets, I freaked out slightly and went for a free, pre-made one instead, which is similar to what I had in mind anyway, only a lot better. The embroidery looks a bit strange, but at the same time it reminds me of my heritage, as my mother is seriously into handicrafts and so was her mother.

What do you think of the blogosphere?
I love it! It’s a fun way to get new friends and follow your interests at the same time.

 What are the pros and cons of blogging?
Too much to write about and too many interesting blogs to read and too little time to do it in! I was unemployed for over a year before I started distance studying at a Swedish university, and I did that for 1.5 years before finally finding some full-time work about a month back, so while I used to have plenty of time to watch DVDs and such, I don’t anymore.

Are there any sites or blogs you regularly visit which inspire you or which you particularly like?
I have a list of blogs I follow on my Blogger Dashboard which I look at every time I log in to see if there are any new posts that look interesting and I get ideas and inspirations from all over the place. The Richard Armitage Fanstravaganza a while back was a fun event and it was a good way to discover “new” blogs. I won’t pick favourites, because I like each blog for different reasons. For instance, I really like yours because of your keen analysis and insight into classic literature – not to mention your wonderful RA Fridays!

But Traxy, I was not fishing for compliments! I just wanted to know if your starting a blog was inspired by other bloggers or sites. However, it’s too late now so ... THANK YOU! I’m flattered. What do you like to blog about the most?
Richard Armitage and Jane Eyre! Or at least, those are the two strongest obsessions at the moment, so they are the most frequent topics. Participating in The Brontë Challenge, like you, has helped as well. If “helped” is the right word when it’s really adding fuel to the fire!

Yes, you’re right. I’ve read several reviews on your blog regarding books by the Brontes or adaptations of the same. Where does your love for these writers come from?

As I read Jane Eyre and saw the ’06 adaptation (in ’08) I fell in love with Mr. Rochester, and then it just went downhill from there! When Laura’s Brontë Challenge came along, I thought it a good excuse to indulge in JE, and get to know Charlotte’s other works as well as those of her sisters. The three have very different styles of writing, and I probably prefer Anne’s writing most (based on Agnes Grey). It’s straightforward, the characters are crystal clear and I don’t feel like I need a translator to understand her writing, like I do with the Yorkshire accent of Emily or the repeated French of Charlotte. While Charlotte’s writing is wonderful and her dialogue superb, sometimes I just want to shout out things like “less is more!” and “omit needless words!”

 Have you got any other favourite author? What kind of reader are you?
An avid one! I’ve always read a lot, ever since I first learned how. For a while when I was a teenager, the local library had amongst the best lending statistics in Sweden – I take partial responsibility for it! ;) The only downside to studying I’ve found is that it means I’m generally too busy reading course books and trying to keep up with them to have proper time to read other things, which is why I doubt I’ll be able to manage the three thick Brontë books I have left on my list before the Challenge runs out on June 30th, but we’ll see. Childhood memories include Astrid Lindgren, LM Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Katarina Taikon, Carolyn Keene, CS Lewis and a bit of Enid Blyton, to name but a few. Then I moved on to Douglas Adams, Agatha Christie, Dean R Koontz, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Pratchett – and Jane Austen. The ones I swear by today are Douglas Adams and Robert Jordan, along with Jane Austen and the Brontës (of course), and I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd!

 I’ve got the impression you like period drama. Have you got any favourite ones apart from Jane Eyre 2006, of course? Do you like also modern drama and movies?
Indeed I do. It all began with Pride & Prejudice ’95, as that’s how I discovered Jane Austen. Since then I’ve still only managed to read P&P and Sense & Sensibility, even though I have the others as well and they’re on my to-do-list. Favourites are Jane Eyre and P&P, and I seem to have this huge soft spot for Mrs. Gaskell’s North & South as well for some reason ... ;) Modern drama is also really enjoyable – I’m just a sucker for movies in general and always have been. As a child, I used to bore my family with endless accounts of the latest book I had read or the latest MacGyver episode and things along those lines, to the point where they would say “is this something real or is it something else you’ve read/seen?” and either ask me to be quiet or suggest I make up my own stories instead of re-telling everyone else’s.

 You said you like writing. Are you writing anything special? Have you got any special plan about writing?
All the time, that’s the problem. There are all these fascinating ideas floating around wanting to be written down but there’s the issue of piecing together a plot and sit down and actually do the writing. Ever since I was a child I’ve been telling and writing stories. Far from all of them were ever finished, but there have always been a lot of ideas. Have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org) a few times, which is good practice and a lot of fun. I’ve taken a few Creative Writing courses in uni which have been very useful, because I feel more prepared to write a novel now than I’ve been before. Just need to get around to actually doing it, because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s procrastination!

One of the most recent ideas was to write a novel about Mr. Rochester, but I’ve not pieced together any sort of plot yet. Then I had a thought about a modern take on Jane Eyre, which I’m more interested in at the moment. Just trying to figure out how the characters fit together, but once the puzzle pieces have fallen into place, I won’t have any other option but to write it, because I’m dying to read it and find out what happens!

 Last but not least, it seems you suffers from a very contagious syndrome many of us are very familiar with the John Thornton Syndrome. When did it start? How do you cope with it?
Ohh, JTS, Lucasitis, Gisborne fever, the lot! Seeing a full-sized picture of Guy at the BBC RH exhibition at Nottingham Castle in 2008 made my heart beat faster, but I didn’t hit fandom properly until last year, with season three of Robin Hood. I had seen most of season one and some of season two before, but not really been that keen. Sure, Gisborne was good-looking but the show kinda ... sucked. I was only going to watch season three because Toby Stephens would be in it, but suddenly I just had to get the DVD of N&S instead of settling for the recording from TV, I was having long Skype conversations with a friend and we were giggling like schoolgirls over pictures and soundbytes and YouTube videos, and then I got some more DVDs and joined a couple of fan forums and eventually I ended up blogging about the guy as well. “Everything in moderation”, they say ... I’m no good with moderation, but blogging is a good coping mechanism. While at the beginning, when giggling in front of my laptop, I could say it was because of my friend’s new-found fondness of RA which amused me (failing somehow to mention who she got it from in the first place) ... with my expressed enthusiasm regarding Strike Back, I think my husband is beginning to realise Sam Neill has been knocked off the top spot of my fixations!

 Since you live in England, could you see the first two-part film of Strike Back new series? Without giving too many spoilers away, did you like it? What do you think of John Porter?Oh yes! Luckily, we have Sky1. I thought it was okay but not terribly interesting. Porter as a character is a fairly sympathetic man, and if I was ever taken hostage, I’d want to share a cell with him, because then I’d know everything would be okay because he’s so calm and reassuring and chivalrous and dreamy. Funnily enough, it was difficult to get into the story because I didn’t see John Porter, I saw Richard Armitage. “Oooh look, RA in uniform! Oooh, RA without a uniform! Oooh – OMG THE ARMPIT HAIR!!”

 LOL!!! You had fun it seems . I can understand what you mean by “I saw Richard Armitage and not John Porter”. First time I listen to something read by his voice I can’t catch the meaning of his words since I’m distracted by the velvety sound. But here we go again! Let’s go back to our interview ... You’ve decided to giveaway “Speaking With The Angel”. Why did you choose this book? And have you got any particular question you want to ask our readers?

I’ve chosen a book called “Speaking With The Angel”, which is a short story collection with a story each by Robert Harris, Melissa Bank, Giles Smith, Patrick Marber, Colin Firth (yes, the actor), Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers, Roddy Doyle, Helen Fielding, Irvine Welsh, and John O'Farrell. Some of contemporary Britain’s most successful authors, basically. The book was commissioned by Nick Hornby in support of a charity school called TreeHouse, which cares for severely autistic children, one of which used to be Hornby Jr. We were required to read it for English ages ago, and I really enjoyed reading it. Every author have their own voice, their own style of writing and every story is different. The most common advice professional writers give to wannabe writers is, or so I’m told, to read. Read a lot and read many different things in different genres, and I think this book is a good sample. It’s time to pass it on, because good books should be shared.

I’d like to ask the readers to write a thesis on cognitive dissonance theory and explain the Lewin equation and back it up with a good amount of statistics! No, only kidding!  As a fan, there’s nothing more exciting than encountering the person you’re a fan of. I wrote a couple of short stories about meeting my favourite band when I was 17 or so, and when I was 18, I got to meet one of them in real life. Wow, what a buzz! So I’d love to hear a “Reader, I met him/her!” story. Have you met someone famous, someone you admire? What was he or she like? Did s/he live up to your expectations? How did it feel? What did you do? How did you come to meet them? It doesn’t matter who the famous person is/was or if it only lasted a second and you didn’t even speak to them. Perhaps you only spotted them somewhere. If you’ve not encountered a celebrity, perhaps you’ve seen someone who reminded looked like one instead? That’s fine too. (I seem to recall seeing a man who reminded me a little of RA at a supermarket some months ago and my heart skipped a beat!) Or even make it up! Either way, it would be a very interesting read indeed!
(In the picture above you can see me & my favourite singer Thomas Anders, meeting for the first time in 2001 - I was 18 at the time and absolutely ecstatic)

Thank you Traxy for taking your time and answering my questions. Till your next post and best wishes for your studies and your life in Nottingham! Good luck to all of you in the giveaway!


Unknown said...

Great interview! I love Traxy's blog and was so happy to "meet" her through the blogosphere a few months back - thanks for sharing a peek into your life! :)

Phylly3 said...

Nice interview MG and hello to Traxy! Both of your blogs are at the top of my reading list!

Charleybrown said...

Hi Maria! Hi Traxy!
Great interview! I've got a smile on my face from your sense of humour Traxy! I was all prepared to research cognitive dissonance for you :) It's great to hear of your plans on writing a novel - sounds exciting! It's lovely to learn more about you!

You asked if we've ever met someone famous? I was thrilled to meet Maria von Trapp when I was 10 years old and my mother spotted her gardening in front of the Trapp Family Lodge while the other tourists walked by and didn't recognize her. I thought it was sweet that she was busy tending to the garden herself, knowing what I read of her, I could see how Maria would want everything just perfect! She was gracious enough to stop to talk to us and answer some of the questions posed by my mother while my siblings and I looked on shyly.

'Speaking with the Angel' looks interesting. I've been wanting to read Nick Hornby and I'm intrigued to read the stories by the authors he's asked to join him for that collection!

See you in cyberspace!

Unknown said...

Thank you Traxy (and MG!) for letting us know about you: it's fascinating to know the background stories of the bloggers one follows :)

As a long time admirer of Colin Firth's - in fact, answering to your question, I've met him several times: he's even cutier in person, and a very kind and patient guy, too - I already own 'Speaking with the angel', so I'll step out of the competition, but thank you very much for offering it!

Traxy said...

Thanks guys (gals)! And thanks for MG for the interview - it was fun. :)

Charleybrown: Cognitive dissonance is quite interesting actually! Statistics for psychological studies is a killer, though. I'm not keen on math to begin with, and while I think it's fun to see how many % of blog posts talk about RA, trying to figure out standard deviations and stuff just does my head in! Thanks for your account of meeting Maria von Trapp. That must have been something! I'm not very clued up on the real life story of the von Trapp family (more than "Sound of Music is based on a true story") to be honest, but I wonder how she feels about the movie/musical. Do they like it?

Karen: Oooh, meeting Colin Firth! *swoon* I wonder how tired he is of people wanting to talk to him about Mr. Darcy. Is he on the point of breaking and say "it was 15 years ago! I've done other roles, you know!" or is he grinning and bearing it? :)

The Book Mole said...

Thanks for the nice interview, and for introducing me to Traxy's blog, Maria.

I used to be a fan of Richard Armitage until I came across some of David Tennant's work, and I have now switched allegiance! I find David more to my taste besides being extremely an extremely talented actor.

Have I met a celebrity? Well, I did get to talk to Pope John Paul II if that counts. I went to a Catholic school, and was on a team selected to welcome the Pope in spite of my not being Catholic. He seemed pretty nice and we had a short conversation.

lunarossa said...

So interesting to "meet" a Swedish lady living in England! Thanks, MG, for another great opportunity. Hi Traxy, I've never been to Sweden but it's on my wish list. I used to have a great Swedish friend who was from Goteborg but lived in Italy for a while and he used to teach me a bit of Swedish that unfortunately I've all forgotten now! He was quite a famous volleybalplayer, Bengt Gustfsson, and used to be in the Swedish national volley team. I've got Speaking with The Angel too, but it was lovely to make your acquaintance. Ciao. A.

Charleybrown said...

Traxy, I checked out your blog stats on RA! Cool! Interesting that you have so many posts devoted just to him! I did my undergrad in psych and stats was one of my favourite courses! Too bad you didn't enjoy it.

RE: how Maria felt about The Sound of Music, one of the things that she didn't like was how they portrayed Georg. She felt they made her husband much harsher than he was in real life. I think overall though, they're pleased with their story being told. There's an article here if you're interested. http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps.html

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

Yay for Traxy! :)
Maria, I always look forward to your blogger interviews... so fun and informative.

JaneGS said...

What a wonderful interview--I really enjoyed about hearing about Swedish national romanticism, which is a lovely national trait, the John Thornton syndrome, and the blogosphere. Now, you've introduced me to Traxy's blog, I have less time to write because I'll be reading what she has to say!

Good job, ladies.

Traxy said...

The Book Mole: Switching allegiances? Gasp! Although, to be fair, David Tennant is fab as well. Thought he would be irreplacable as Dr. Who but I have to admit, Matt Smith's doing a really good job! Of course meeting the Popeman counts. :) Nice to meet you!

lunarossa: Hi there! Nice to meet you too! Hope you get to see Sweden some day. My suggestion would be during the summer, because it tends to be a lot nicer and people are a bit more open then. In the winter half of the year, we tend to shut down because of the cold, dark weather! Göteborg has a nice feel to it, and the archipelago outside it is really beautiful. ...And I don't just say that because I'm from there! I don't follow volleyball (erm, or any sport) so I have no idea who your friend is unfortunately, but I would love to go to Italy some day. I hear you have lots of tasty food and historical sites! :D

Charleybrown: Oooh, you've already done your undergrad course, and in Psychology too! Didn't realise that! :) I struggle a bit with dyscalculia, which is a factor in why I find statistics quite difficult. It's a fascinating topic, but all the formulas and stuff... my brain tends to check out at that point. I'm on year two (of three) so we'll see how it goes. What I normally blog about tends to be what I'm currently most obsessed about, and that is currently RA. But it's a lovely obsession! Thank you for sharing the link to the article, it was a really interesting read!

Nat: Hey, maybe you're next? ;)

JaneGS: Hi there and thanks! :) The national romanticism is mentioned in a book called "Modern-day Vikings: A Practical Guide to Interacting with the Swedes" by Christina Johansson Robinowitz and Lisa Werner Carr. I got it for my husband, but I read it before he did (he's still not got around to it!), to check that it was correct. ;) It was! It told me things about myself I hadn't really thought of, or thought "that's just me" or "that's just how I was brought up" about and then apparently, no, it's down to being Swedish! National romanticism being one of those things. Hope you enjoy my blog! :)

MaryKwizMiz said...

Highly interesting and entertaining, this. Thankx both Traxy, and MG :)
PS: Thomas Anders?!?!? :) :P