Robert-desk-webres

I was born in 1965 in Gothenburg, Sweden. My mother is Swedish, and my father Estonian.

At the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, I majored in Applied Physics.

After graduation, I entered the military. At first I flew fighter jets, and then helicopters. I became a Lt. Colonel in the Swedish Air Force. I’m proud to have trained with the U.S. Marine Corps and flown its attack helicopters.

I’ve written four thrillers, and I’m finishing a new one now, sequel to The Swede/ My Name Is N. This next one, based on my experience with the Swedish Air Force, is about pirate-hunting in the seas near Somalia.

Researching my novels has taken me to the Libyan Desert, Amazonian drug dens and the secret archives of the Vatican.

In my downtime, I’ve taken my younger daughter scuba diving in Egypt and the Maldives. I’m also a runner, and I like sea-kayaking.

And then there’s the kitchen. For celebrations with friends and family, my official job is to make fancy desserts and chocolate pralines.

I have two daughters. The older is attending college in the US; the younger goes to high school in Stockholm, where I live myself.

My latest novel, The Swede (in the UK, My Name Is N), was published by HarperCollins in July. This is my first novel to be translated into in English.

In 2005, he was a fellow at Amherst College, where he wrote much of The Swede/ My Name Is N.

In 2010, he commanded the helicopter unit on the HMS Carlskrona in the Gulf of Aden. The mission countered Somali piracy, and also helped keep peace near the al Qaeda stronghold of Yemen.

While on the ship, he was interviewed for the BBC documentary “The Trouble With Pirates.” Here’s the trailer:

In 2012, he equipped and trained the first Swedish Black Hawk Medevac unit to go into Afghanistan.

In 2013, he had an international writer’s residency at Ledig House in upstate New York.

In 2014, he was named Speaker of the Year by the Swedish Speakers Forum. He lectures frequently, in both Swedish and English, on the topic of leadership under pressure.

 

“The first time I altered reality was in second grade.

We were assigned to interview our fathers about their childhood memories, and I knew my classmates would return with stories of ice fishing and puppies for Christmas.

My Estonian father’s memories were of WWII, bombs lighting the night sky, and the iron taste of terror in his mouth as he escaped across the Baltic Sea in a crowded sailboat, seeking a better life.

In Sweden, a country that hadn’t fought a war since 1809, this story would not be easily digested.

Two outcomes loomed: either I’d be sent to the school psychologist in a misguided act of pity, or worse, I simply wouldn’t be believed.

So instead I invented, described my father being chased across a muddy field by a bull. Even got to read it aloud in class, no pity, lots of laughter—and in the process discovered the power of fiction.

Eventually, I became a pilot, flew fighter jets and then helicopters.

But there was something left unsatisfied. Stories kept coming to life in my head, so on nights when I wouldn’t be flying the next day, I’d sit up and write until 3 in the morning—until I finished my first novel.

Flight-deck-Carlskrona-webresEver since, I’ve brought notebook and pen on deployments so I can keep writing on ships, in barracks and in tents. I write by hand, given that sea water, sand and jittery power supplies can be tough on computers. My last novel, I edited while hunting pirates off the coast of Somalia.

On that navy ship, my call sign naturally came to be…Storyteller.″