Stina Jackson dreams of bright, blue-tinted, summer nights in Skellefteå

She lives in the middle of nowhere in Denver, Colorado, 4,648 miles from Skellefteå. But acclaimed author Stina Jackson still feels like a Skellefteå resident at heart.
- "The place of origin lives on in you no matter where in the world you end up," she says.

The plan is first to meet Stina Jackson in the middle of the old hometown, inside the cultural center bearing the name of fellow author Sara. The interview is booked and ready, the photographer practically has his finger on the trigger ready. Then comes an email:

"Got stranded here in Denver. No flights today either. Total chaos. So I'm going to reschedule the trip for sometime next year. Not sure when yet. So it's probably safest if we do the interview remotely."

Said and done. It will be an interview over email, where Stina's answer comes in the middle of the night. The time difference, you know. Because she is far from her childhood home in Skellefteå now. She lives in downtown Denver, with her husband Robert and dog Atticus. So how did a bookish, nature-loving Westerner end up here?

Stina was born in Skellefteå in 1983, eventually attended Anderstorpsgymnasiet and graduated in 2002. In the early 2000s she met Robert online, and love was born. At 22, she moved to Denver. Everyday life in Denver follows much the same routine. Nature and exercise are important for the creative process, and it is often during dog walks that ideas take shape.

- Mornings are sacred, that's when the writing flows best. After making coffee and taking a morning walk with the dog, I sit down to write.

Writing, yes. She made her debut in 2018 with the suspense novel Silvervägen, which was awarded the Glass Key prize, which is awarded annually by the Scandinavian Crime Society for the best crime novel. A dark and evocative story about a father's inconsolable search in Västerbotten for his long-lost daughter. A new Västerbotten writer was born.

- "I draw a lot of strength from my origins, from Skellefteå and Västerbotten. They are places with a lot of creative energy and beauty. My parents, my sister and a large part of my family live in Skellefteå, so the city will always be home for me," she says.

Despite living on the other side of the world, Stina tries to visit home in Skellefteå once a year. Her parents' summer cottage in Lidträsket, the river walk at the Nordanå area, Vitberget and the city library are some of her favorite places.

- I love the greenery. After almost eighteen years in Denver, which is largely prairie and plains, I have really come to appreciate the lush wild greenery that blooms in Skellefteå in the summers. Hedges and lilacs and the birches along the river. It is

incredibly beautiful. Summer in Skellefteå also carries a lot of nostalgia, memories of school graduations and swimming trips to Boviken and Falkträsket. And of course the nights, those bright blue-tinted nights.

In primary school she was creative and wrote plays and short stories. High school was more complex, marked by anxiety and uncertainty, but it was also a time when her interest in literature, film and theater grew. Her teenage years were largely spent in cafés like Aina's, Stig's, and Olander's, often with friends in deep conversations over coffee.

- I was probably a bit of a dreamer and thinker. But also quite social, I had many friends. We spent hours in cafes talking about everything and nothing and drinking coffee until our hands shook. Those were the days!

I ask if she can try to summarize Skellefteå and Skellefteå people. The words cohesion, creativity, perseverance and hockey are the answer.

- I've been thinking about cohesion since I became a writer, there is a pride in Skellefteå, most people from the city really care about the city. It's nice.

As a writer, she has felt embraced and supported by the people of Skellefteå, and that love is something she values.

- "The most common response is that someone recognizes me, a joy that I write about these parts. I get many messages from people who have moved away from Västerbotten who say they long to return when they read my books," she says.

Nature in Västerbotten has always been important. As a child, she saw nature as a living being that inspired fairy tales and games.

- "There is a kind of calm that comes over me, but also an energy, a joy. Nature fills me with power and creativity. I'm very fascinated by how places affect the people who live there, how they imprint themselves on our bodies and minds. And I like to create atmosphere and moods, the text should be smellable and touchable. And to evoke that, the place becomes important.

The landscape is given a lot of space in her books, almost as its own character. This is the case in Silvervägen, the sequel Ödesmark and her latest book Förinta världen ikväll. She mentions PO Enquist, who grew up in Sjön, Hjoggböle outside Skellefteå, as a role model.

- "I would like to be part of the Västerbotten storytelling tradition. There really is something unique and magnificent that has sprung up from that soil over the years. It has inspired me a lot in my own writing," she says.

The dream of having her own place - a cottage or a house - somewhere in the Skellefteå area, is strong and alive.

- Preferably by water, with a lot of forest in the back. A place to write and feel the peace," says Stina.

She follows developments in Skellefteå closely, and describes the change over the past 10 years as "breathtaking".

- "I get reports from my mother and father and I always visit new buildings and new eateries as soon as I get the chance. I think it's really exciting and fun that the city is alive. It's a bit dizzying every time I come home. So much has happened, it's hard to keep up, actually. There is an optimism in Skellefteå that is contagious.

We'll be discussing her latest book, Förinta världen, this evening. External link, opens in new window. It's been well received, but she tells us how she always starts the next project as soon as possible to avoid getting caught up in reviews.

- "It's always very fragile to release a book and I try to jump into the next writing project as soon as I can to get my mind off it. I've already started something that will hopefully be the next book, but you can never be sure, I throw away a lot of text during the process.

She says that readers can expect the next book to be strongly rooted in a few human stories and places. And perhaps it will be somewhere in the Skellefteå area even then.

- I believe that the place of origin lives on in you no matter where in the world you end up. The changing seasons, the light, the darkness, the smells - everything remains in your skin.

Text: Olov Antonsson

Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen

Stina Jackson Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen

This is Stina Jackson

Age: 40 years old
Lives: Denver, Colorado
Family: Husband Robert and dog Atticus
Occupation: Author

Silvervägen, 2018

An atmospheric psychological suspense novel. Lelle is driving along Route 95, which runs through the country from Skellefteå in a north-westerly direction past Arvidsjaur, Arjeplog and ends at the Norwegian border, the road known as the Silver Road. Three years ago, his 17-year-old daughter disappeared without a trace. A drama about never giving up, about staying strong when things are darkest.

The book was named the best Swedish crime novel of 2018.

Ödesmark, 2020

A story about people's attachment to a place and to each other, about strong bonds and about how difficult it can be to break patterns. The book is set in Ödesmark, a small village outside Arvidsjaur. Liv lives there with her elderly father Vidar and her teenage son Vidar - a unique family.

Dagens Nyheter's reviewer wrote about the book that "there is a whole world buried in the subtext, and that is where Stina Jackson's real talent lies".

Förinta världen ikväll, 2023

A novel about a mother and a daughter, about longing for love and daring to follow your dreams. Ewa wakes up in Skellefteå and restlessly opens the apps on her cell phone. Her daughter Matilda lives in the USA, having left the security of her home in Västerbotten. When Matilda stops answering her phone, loneliness drives Ewa out into the summer night.