Frida Nilsson

Portrait Frida Nilsson
© Mia Carlsen

Frida Nilsson, born in Hardemo, Sweden in 1979, discovered her passion for peering behind the scenes early on, inspired by her father’s work as a journalist and theater writer. But instead of pursuing her own acting career after graduating from high school, she taught theater to children, worked as a presenter for children’s radio programs and from 2005 to 2010 hosted the children’s science program »Hjärnkontoret« (»Brain Office«) for state television. She also worked as a voice actor.
While many of her early children’s books originated from stories conceived for radio, her published books have now been successfully adapted for radio. In a 2009 interview for the newspaper »Sydsvenskan«, Frida Nilsson was asked to what extent autobiographical elements influence her books and whether there were any taboo themes for children’s literature. Her answer: »My books are strewn with details from real life, but not necessarily things which I have personally experienced. […] You have to be prepared to write about anything, but not just in any old way.« The unusual settings and sometimes bizarre character ensembles she chooses for her children’s books are as surprising as their dramatic composition. With wit, a healthy dose of slapstick and laconic phrasing, Frida Nilsson only needs a few pages to draw readers of all ages into her protagonists’ adventures. In »Apstjärnan« (2005; tr: The Ape Star), for instance, she piques the reader’s curiosity with the story of Jonna, inadvertently adopted by a giant ape called Gorilla. Her new home in a junkyard offers Jonna a freedom she has never known and room for development as an individual beyond the usual norms and roles. When the authorities, spurred on by one of Gorilla’s old enemies, threaten to separate the pair, they refuse to surrender quietly. In the children’s crime thriller »Jag, Dante och miljonerna« (2008; tr: Me, Dante and the Millions), Frida Nilsson tells the story of bank manager Helge, wrongly accused of bank robbery, who meets Dante the rat at a landfill. »Hedvig och sommaren med Steken« (2007; tr: Hedvig’s Summer With Chubby) tells the story of how Hedwig and Chubby, who lives with his father in a partially decrepit summer house in the forest, meet during summer vacation. In »Ishavspirater« (2015; tr: The Ice Sea Pirates), little Siri, in the style of Pippi Longstocking, begins a dangerous voyage to the ice pirates who force captured children to work in a diamond mine after her sister disappears.
Frida Nilsson has been awarded, among others, the Kröte des Monats prize (2010), the White Raven (2012), the Astrid Lindgren Prize (2014) and the Nils Holgersson Plaque (2016). She lives on the island Mörkö.