Interview with Florence Wetzel, Author of The Grand Man

The Indie Crime Scene is pleased to interview Florence Wetzel, author of The Grand Man. This interview was conducted by Dennis Chekalov.

1.      Could you tell us about your life path? Speaking about your memoir book, poet Herschel Silverman called it “a journey through a variety of interior and exterior worlds.” What does it mean?

I’m glad you mentioned Hersch. He was a wonderful writer and generous soul, a Beat poet who ran a candy store in Bayonne, New Jersey. Anyone who likes poetry should check out his book Lift Off. Hersch died in 2015, and I miss him very much.
In 2012, I asked Hersch to write a forward to my poetry and memoir collection Elvis in the Morning. So that’s where that line comes from. I think Hersch meant that I have lived in a few different places over the years, so that’s the exterior worlds. He also knew that I was interested in writing and music, as well as spiritual and psychological matters, so I guess that’s the interior worlds.
Thinking about my life path in terms of fiction writing, I think the decisive moment happened when I was a sophomore in college, which was autumn 1981. I had always loved books and writing, and in fact had worked on school newspapers in junior high and high school. But for some strange reason, I had decided that I should study finance at college and then work on Wall Street. I had even taken two economics classes during my freshman year, and of course I got very poor grades!
Anyway, that summer I read a lot of books while I commuted to my summer job in New York, including a book of Paris Review interviews. That’s the first time I got a sense of the nuts and bolts of being a writer, about how one actually goes about writing a book or short story. Something woke up in me, and that’s when I started thinking that I wanted to write fiction.
At the end of the summer, I came down with mononucleosis. I have never been so weak and sick in my life, not before or since. I had to leave school and go live with my parents in New Jersey for a bit. When I finally started getting my health back and returned to school, it felt like I had been given a second chance. I remember taking a walk in Riverside Park in Manhattan and thinking about my future, and it was during that walk that I decided I wanted to spend my life writing fiction. I knew that there were no guarantees, both in terms of public recognition and making a living, but I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve had a few wobbles over the years, but mostly I have stuck to that decision.
At this point I want to mention my mentor Joy Chute, a prolific writer who wrote novels and short stories under the name B. J. Chute. She was my writing teacher at Barnard College, and her guidance was a decisive factor in my life. She was both strict and warm, and she took me and my writing seriously. I studied with her for two years at Barnard, and I also worked with her after I graduated in 1984. I used to visit her apartment on the East Side, where we would drink tea and eat homemade cookies as she went over my short stories with me. I remember she used to make check marks in pencil in the margins, and then explain every single place where I could do better. She died in 1987, which was a great blow, but I got to work with her for four years and that was a blessing.
I started out writing short stories in college, and then when I graduated I started writing novels. I wrote two novels in the 1980s that I now think of as juvenilia, important for me and my development but definitely not mature works that were ready to see the light of day! Nonetheless I did get an agent for those novels via Joy Chute. The agent tried to sell those early works, but no takers.
After college I lived in Hoboken, NJ, and then in 1990 I moved to Crete and lived there for five years. That was a really fertile period where I ended up writing three books: Mrs. Papadakis; Aspasia; and Madeline: A Novel of Love, Buddhism, and Hoboken. I self-published the first two in 2002 as one book, and I self-published Madeline in 2003. Although I ended up doing a light rewrite of Madeline and publishing a second edition in 2012.
After Crete I moved back to Hoboken and lived there from 1995 to 2003. In 2003 I moved to Woodstock, New York. I had just finished an extremely active period with all that self-publishing, and it was time to slow down and make a new start. In Woodstock I studied Buddhism intensely, and I also decided to write a mystery novel. After 9/11 I had a hard time reading emotionally charged books, and I started reading lots of Agatha Christie and chick-lit. Those influences combined with my love of jazz, as well as my girlhood love of Nancy Drew books, led me to write Dashiki: A Jazz Mystery.
I wrote to 70 agents to see if they would represent the book. Finally I got a positive response from Uwe Stender at Triada US Literary Agency. And he is still my agent today! Uwe worked really hard to get Dashiki and my later books published. We haven’t had any takers yet, but we are both hopeful.
Uwe has been important in so many ways. He is the type of agent who offers suggestions on rewriting, because it’s his goal to submit the strongest book possible. He has also been a great support in other ways. I remember I lost heart at one point and told him that I was thinking about giving up writing. He wrote back and said: “Giving up is not an option.” I always think about that when I get discouraged.
In 2009 I moved to Colorado. During that time I did more self-publishing and put out Dashiki and Elvis in the Morning. I also started writing my novel Holy Denver, which I self-published in 2015. Holy Denver is about a young woman who has a spiritual experience without actually joining any religion. She kind of stumbles into it through her own thoughtless actions. The book also deals with the Columbine shooting and the JonBenét Ramsey murder, not as mysteries to solve, but in terms of how ordinary people deal with the violent events surrounding us.
And that brings us up to The Grand Man!

2.      Please present to us your new novel, The Grand Man: A Scandinavian Thriller. How did the idea of this book come to you?

When I was working on Holy Denver, the third Millennium book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, came out in English. I had read the first two books and liked them, and so when the third book came out I decided to read the trilogy again from the start. Something really clicked, and I found myself enthralled with the books.
Like many people, I felt a sense of emptiness once I finished the trilogy. I wanted more, but there wasn’t more. I went to the Denver Public Library to look for a new book to read, and I saw a display with Jo Nesbø’s The Leopard. I thought that “Nesbø” looked like a Scandinavian name, so I checked out the book. That’s when I realized that Stieg Larsson was the tip of the iceberg, and that Nordic Noir was an incredibly rich genre with dozens of authors. Luckily a lot of other people in the US were realizing this at the same time, so Nordic Noir started popping up in bookstores and libraries everywhere. I used to go to the Denver Library’s mystery section and look for names with umlauts! I discovered a lot of authors that way.
Another important aspect of Nordic Noir for me were the films and series. The most important of all was The Killing. By that I mean the original Danish version, although I do like the US remake as well. The series The Bridge and the Wallander films were also really influential. I was working very hard as freelance copyeditor and proofreader during that time, and I relaxed during the evenings by reading and watching Nordic Noir. It became an escape for me, a chance to enter other worlds without actually traveling anywhere.
Eventually my book Holy Denver was nearing its end, and I started thinking about what to write next. I remember thinking: “I want to write a Swedish crime novel.” The next thought I had was: “That’s crazy! You’ve never even been to Sweden.” But once the idea was planted, I couldn’t let it go.
I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate Stieg Larsson and the Millennium trilogy. I was fascinated by the story of Larsson’s missing fourth manuscript, so I knew that would be part of my book. Then I started thinking about Lisbeth Salander herself. Was there any way to incorporate her in my story? I loved her character so much, and I wanted to work with it in some way. And then one day—I remember exactly where I was, at the breakfast restaurant Snooze on Colorado Boulevard in Denver—I suddenly got the idea that my main character Juliet could get advice from Lisbeth. Originally I thought it would work as letters, like “Dear Lisbeth.” I did try that at first, but it became clear pretty quickly that Lisbeth was a voice in Juliet’s head.
It was so much fun to have Lisbeth in the book. I reread the Millennium books—any excuse to read those books again!—and I wrote down the words that Lisbeth used so the voice in Juliet’s head could sound authentic. And I hope that it does.
So that’s the Stieg Larsson part of The Grand Man. I was also doing a lot of jazz journalism then, so I knew I wanted to set the novel in the Stockholm jazz world. But that still didn’t feel like enough for a book. That’s when I thought, “Didn’t the prime minister of Sweden get murdered in the 1980s?” I started reading about Olof Palme, and when I realized that the mystery was unsolved, I knew that I would include that, too.
I did as much research as I could via websites and books, but then it was time to go to Sweden. My first trip was in January 2013. I was there for three weeks and did tons of research, including meeting people and asking about Swedish jazz, Olof Palme, and Stieg Larsson.
The first morning I arrived in Stockholm, I checked into my hostel and went out immediately into the freezing cold to visit the plaque at the site of Olof Palme’s murder. There was a lot of construction going on, plus there was snow on the ground, so I couldn’t find the plaque! I asked one of the workers if he could help me. I remember him bringing out a broom and respectfully sweeping off the plaque so I could see it.
I did about a year of research, and then started writing. I finished the book in 2015 and sent it to my agent. Uwe and his team of readers made a lot of great suggestions, and over two rewrites I cut out about 200 pages. Uwe started sending out the book to publishers, but almost all the editors said it was too long. I knew I needed to do another rewrite, but I needed some distance from the book.
In order to get inspiration and connect with other writers, I attended the Iceland Writers Retreat in 2015 and 2016. During a workshop with Adelle Waldman, the author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., she talked about rewriting and said: “Ask yourself: What is my biggest fear about doing a rewrite?” I realized that my biggest fear was that I was going to have to write new material, and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I decided to work through my fear and give the book another go. I ended creating a new character and changing the whole structure of the book. It was hard, but not as hard as I had feared.
I had a lot going on with my personal life then, namely looking after my elderly mother, so I didn’t have the energy to self-publish. My mom died in May 2017, and it wasn’t until fall 2018 that I was finally ready. I was at Bokmässan, the annual book fair in Göteborg, Sweden, which is more or less four days of heaven on earth. I saw author Jan Stocklassa giving a lecture about his soon-to-be published book on Olof Palme and Stieg Larsson. (The book will be published in English this fall, it’s called The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin.) I remember thinking, “Wait a minute! I have a book about Olof Palme and Stieg Larsson.” That’s when I knew it was time to get going.
Luckily I was at Bokmässan when I had this realization, because there were a lot of self-publishing companies on site. I found the Books on Demand booth and had two long visits with them. They were really helpful, so I decided to go with them. It was important for me to do the book from Sweden so it would be accessible to Swedish readers, but also be accessible in the US and other English-speaking countries. It took eight months of hard work to get the book ready, but it finally came out in the middle of May.

3.      Stieg Larsson, a famous crime writer, is an important figure of your novel. What kind of research had you to do to ensure this plot was authentic?

A fair number of books have been written about Stieg Larsson, and luckily all of them have been published in English. I read those books carefully while I was doing my research for The Grand Man, and Stieg Larsson began to take shape for me. And of course you get a strong sense of his personality through the Millennium trilogy itself, particularly his fight against injustice and his dry humor.
A piece of luck was when Larsson’s live-in girlfriend Eva Gabrielsson came to Denver in 2012 to promote her book “There Are Things I Want You to Know” about Stieg Larsson and Me. I thought she was a fascinating woman, very intelligent and dignified. I felt more than ever that if I was going to include Stieg Larsson as a character, I needed to be careful and do it with respect. Which I really tried to do, and hopefully I have succeeded.
Another funny thing is that in the fall of 2018, just as I was making the decision to self-publish The Grand Man, there was a sudden flurry of Stieg Larsson activity in Sweden. This included the documentary Stieg Larsson: The Man Who Played with Fire, which I saw at Bokmässan as well as on Swedish TV. Plus as I mentioned Jan Stocklassa’s book, which came out in Sweden in fall 2018. His book contained invaluable information about Stieg Larsson that I had never read earlier, such as a description of Stieg Larsson’s office at the TT wire service in the 1980s.
Stocklassa’s book also had a map of Olof Palme’s murder scene that Stieg Larsson himself drew in 1986. When I saw that map, I knew I would move heaven and earth to get it into The Grand Man. It took about 20 emails to a wide variety of people, including Stocklassa himself and Stieg Larsson’s protégé Daniel Poohl, who were both very helpful. I finally got permission to use the map, and it is in the front of The Grand Man.

4.      The murder of Sweden prime minister Olof Palme is one of the mysteries your novel is set around. Why did you choose this story? Do you have your own versions regarding this crime?

Olof Palme’s assassination is the biggest unsolved Swedish mystery, and perhaps the best documented cold case in the world. I started reading about it from curiosity, but it didn’t take long before I was completely captivated. That apparently happens to a lot of people!
There wasn’t a lot written about Olof Palme’s murder in English in 2012, but I did find a few books and articles that helped me get a sense of the murder and the timeline. Nowadays it’s very different. As I said, Jan Stocklassa’s book is coming out in the fall, and that will really lift the Palme murder into the public eye in English-speaking lands. I would also like to mention a recent piece in The Guardian by Imogen West-Knights called “Who Killed the Prime Minster? The Unsolved Murder that Still Haunts Sweden.” It is perhaps the best and most concise summary of the murder in English that I’ve ever read.
I did have a great piece of luck during my research phase, which was stumbling onto Palme expert Gunnar Wall’s website. There was one page in English where Gunnar encouraged people to contact him, so I did. I was amazed when he wrote back and said he was happy to help. We met up during my first trip, and over the years he has become a friend as well as a mentor. Gunnar is a humble person with encyclopedic knowledge about the murder and the investigation, and despite his own busy writing schedule he has always been generous with his time. Talking with Gunnar about the Palme assassination over coffee is always enlightening.
As for theories, I have some thoughts, but I definitely don’t have any special knowledge. I do believe that Christer Pettersson, that man who was convicted for the murder and then released, was not the perpetrator. In one of Gunnar’s books, he explains that all of Christer Pettersson’s crimes were done on impulse, whereas Palme’s murderer was extremely cool and collected. That strikes me as a convincing argument, because it seems very doubtful that Pettersson had the personality or character traits to carry out a high-profile assassination.
I do think the assassin was hired by somebody and didn’t act on his own accord. But other than that, I have no idea who was behind the murder. I hope that the truth comes out one day, and I believe it just might.

5.      Who are your favorite crime fiction writers? Why?

It all started with reading Nancy Drew when I was young. I read those books countless times, and I mean countless. I even reread them as an adult when I was doing research for my jazz mystery Dashiki. It’s always extremely clear who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, but otherwise the books hold up. As does Nancy herself! I love her level-headedness and logical thinking process. And her blue convertible, of course.
Agatha Christie is another favorite of mine, particularly the very early books. Her plots are amazing, and she also has a really dry sense of humor. Plus a bit of romance here and there.
As for Nordic Noir, the actor Kristofer Hivju said in an interview that the Maj Wahlöö-Per Wahlöö detective series with Detective Martin Beck is the mothership of Nordic Noir. I think most people would agree with this. For me, those books are foundational Nordic Noir police procedurals. Plus they are highly entertaining, and there’s ten of them!
Other Nordic Noir favorites are Henning Mankell, Leif GW Persson, Åsa Larsson and Helene Tursten. But I better stop there, because the list can get very long very quickly.

6.      Your book is A Scandinavian Thriller. What attracts you to the Nordic Noir subgenre? What, in your opinion, are its main features? What are the main differences between the Nordic Noir and the classic one?

The first and main feature is that a book or film takes place in one of the Nordic countries, or at least has a central character from one of the Nordic countries. That sounds obvious, but the exotic settings and cultural habits are an integral part of the Nordic Noir experience for me.
There’s also the weather. There are plenty of Nordic Noir books that take place in spring and fall, but I really like the ones that occur during the extremes of dark and light. The 1997 movie Insomnia with Stellan Skarsgård is classic Nordic Noir, even though it takes place in the season of light instead of the season of darkness.
I read a fair bit of Raymond Chandler and other classic noir authors many years back, but I don’t feel well-versed enough to make an intelligent comparison of the genres. Definitely the Nordic setting is the most decisive factor. Exploring the Nordic lands through the region’s crime novels is a rich and fascinating journey.

7.      You have experience as a jazz-journalist, and Juliet, the main character of your book, is a jazz-journalist as well. How much is she like you? How has your professional background helped in your writing?

I became a jazz journalist by happy accident when I started working with jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson on his autobiography The Traveler in the 1990s. That led to writing CD and book reviews as well as doing interviews, including one with the legendary drummer Elvin Jones. He was the most charming person I’ve ever met.
I have always been curious about how jazz and fiction can intersect. In mid-2000s I wrote a jazz mystery novel called Dashiki, about the missing tapes from John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk’s Five Spot gig. I had a lot of fun writing that book, but of course the challenge was not to overload the book with jazz facts and therefore alienate readers.
When I started plotting The Grand Man, I thought it would be fun to set the book in the Stockholm jazz world. I read once that research is just an excuse for travel, and sure enough that gave me a reason to go to Stockholm and meet jazz musicians and get a sense of the scene there.
Unlike my character Juliet, I never made a living from my jazz writings, but otherwise I share her enthusiasm for the music and musicians. And just like Juliet, I had a pivotal experience the first time I heard saxophonist Lars Gullin’s song “Danny’s Dream.” That happened in 2012 when I was doing research for The Grand Man. “Danny’s Dream” is an incredibly beautiful piece of music, and I encourage people to check it out on YouTube.
Researching Gullin led me to Monica Zetterlund and other Swedish jazz greats. It also led me to Nalen, which was the premier jazz club in Sweden for decades. Juliet’s description of her first time at Nalen is very much like mine. I stood in the middle of the main room and felt that I was standing in the historical epicenter of Swedish jazz. A great feeling.

8.      You are the co-author of jazz clarinetist Perry Robinson’s autobiography. What is most important to you in this project?

In 1986 I moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, which at that time was an amazing hub of artists and writers and musicians. Gentrification hadn’t taken hold yet, and it was still possible to find cheap rent. I met Perry at a place called O ROE Electric Art Space, which had a constant stream of interesting events and people. I didn’t know much about jazz then, but over time I realized that he was an important figure, particularly for avant-garde jazz.
Perry was perhaps the most fascinating person I have ever met. He had an amazing musical talent, but at the same time he was very humble. He had incredible access to his own creativity, and he was always trying to impart that sense of freedom to other people. He was also an amazing storyteller. I never met anyone who had stories like Perry.
I interviewed Perry in 1988 for his 50th birthday party, just a short piece called “Perry Talks About.” It was a lot of fun working with Perry, and people seemed to really like the interview. I ended up living in Crete from 1990 to 1995, and when I moved back to Hoboken I started hanging out with Perry again. I had the idea that it would be fun to do a longer version of our original article, in other words a whole autobiography. Perry agreed, and that’s when we started.
At the time, I had no idea that it would take five years to do the book! Or that I would need to do a great deal of reading and listening to have enough knowledge to understand all the people and events that Perry talked about. We ended up with 55 audiotapes, which I transcribed and edited and supplemented. I also included newspaper articles and contributions from people who knew him. Perry was not a linear person, so the format had to reflect that without seeming patchy. Writing that book was a great education on many levels, including meeting the extensive cast of characters from Perry’s life.
The project was important to me because I felt that Perry’s stories shouldn’t be lost. Not just in terms of jazz history, but also his inner journey. Perry was a free spirit, an adventurous and rebellious soul who was open to all kinds of life experiences. I thought his sense of freedom and love of creativity could inspire other people. They certainly inspired me, and I know I’m not alone; Perry has touched people all over the world through his music and personality.
Perry died in December 2018, so now the book has a different function. It’s a way for people to get to know him even though he’s no longer here. So it feels good that he’s still accessible to people. And then of course there’s his music, which is fantastic and worth checking out.
The book was ready in 2002, and we decided to self-publish. That was at the very beginning of the self-publishing boom. It was a lot of work, but I got a lot of help from other people. At least fifteen people read the manuscript and gave me feedback. Our friend Doris China did the cover, and when I got the first copies of the book, I met with Perry and Doris at Doris’ brownstone in Hoboken to give them each a copy. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.

9.      The action of your novels Mrs. Papadakis and Aspasia takes place in Greece, where you have lived yourself. What are the main themes of these books?

Both books take place in a small village in Crete. So I would say that although the books are very different, Crete is the main character in both. I lived in a small Cretan fishing village for five years in the early nineties, and it was an extremely enriching experience. I was surrounded by a treasure trove of interesting people, and all the small details of life in Crete fascinated me.
Mrs. Papadakis is about the lighter side of village life. I don’t think the term “feel-good” was used when I wrote the book in the early 90s, but it is a feel-good. Basically the book is about a woman who is thinking about leaving her husband, and the journey she takes while making her decision to stay. On the way she hangs out with hippies and gets into various sorts of trouble, but nothing too serious. I enjoyed writing that book a lot.
Aspasia, on the other hand, is about the darker side of village life. Small towns anywhere can be closed systems where people protect their own. The book came about because I read a Greek novel where a young girl is sexually attacked at the end. It was a really brutal ending, and I thought that I would like to write something similar, but with a more empowering theme, namely a mother doing whatever is necessary to protect her child. I remember my agent at the time was so put off by the book that she told me she didn’t want to sell it. But I love the characters in that book anyway.

1    What role does Buddhism play in your life?

A big role. The subtitle of my book Madeline is A Novel of Love, Buddhism, and Hoboken. I had read a little Buddhism here and there when I was young, but in 1993 I began reading Pema Chödrön’s books. I also started listening to tapes of her talks, and I even went so far to write to her. She is an American who became a Tibetan Buddhist nun and studied with some of the great Tibetan masters of our time. I loved her books because she showed how to apply Buddhist principles to everyday life. I particularly liked her concept that even in the most painful circumstances, there is a diamond of wisdom and beauty.
That inspired me to write Madeline. The main character Madeline goes through a devastating breakup, which ultimately makes her a wiser person. There isn’t a lot of formal mention of Buddhism in the book, but Pema Chödrön’s teachings are woven through in a hopefully subtle way. I was also reading Jane Austen at that point, so the book is also an homage to Emma.
In 2003 I moved to Woodstock, New York. I lived there for six years, and during that time I studied formally at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, as well as KTD Monastery in Woodstock. I seriously considered becoming a nun! I even had a robe and bowls at one point.
My creative writing just about disappeared during those years. Then in 2015, I did a one-day meditation retreat at my apartment with two friends. At the end of the day, I suddenly realized, “I’m a writer. What am I doing?” I gave up the nun idea, and my interest in Buddhism changed into working on Buddhist books as a copyeditor and proofreader. Eventually creative writing came back into my life, and I started writing novels again.
Nowadays Buddhism is more like a constant hum in the background. I say a few short Tibetan prayers each day, and I visit KTD Monastery at least once a year. I also try to remember what KTD’s wonderful translator Chojor Radha once told me: “Buddhism is about being kind.” I do my best to achieve that, or at least stay pointed in that direction

      You work in different genres, including poetry. Please introduce your poems from Elvis in the Morning: Poems and Tales.

During the five years it took to research and write Perry Robinson’s autobiography, I got involved with poetry. Looking back, I think it was a way to stay connected with writing and writers. Working on a long book of any kind is a solitary activity, so it was nice to be able to write something short and get immediate feedback.
I think writing jazz reviews performed the same function for me, actually. It was a relatively quick form of writing that allowed me to connect with the world while I had longer projects going on. I’ve never had my own blog, but I can imagine that could perform the same function for writers nowadays.
Anyway, I worked at Barnes & Noble in the late 1990s, and hosting poetry readings as well as running an open-mic night were actually part of my job. I started writing poetry myself, and then I worked up the courage to read at the open-mic night. I was so nervous beforehand, I remember my stomach doing somersaults while I waited to go up. But once it was over, I thought, “That was really fun! I want to do that again.”
Around that time, Hersch Silverman was the featured reader at the Pink Pony Reading Series in Manhattan. I read in the open section that night, and I started going there every Friday evening. I heard so much great poetry there and was really inspired by the poetry community. I also wrote a few short memoir pieces at that time, including one about my years at Barnes & Noble.
Writing poetry was a pretty brief period in my life, maybe about two years. When I did another round of self-publishing in 2012, I decided to put out some of my old poems as well as a few short memoir pieces. And that’s where Elvis in the Morning comes from.

1    What are your creative plans? Will you continue working in the Nordic Noir subgenre? Or maybe it will be a completely different book? Have you considered writing a series with the same main character?

My goal is to write a Nordic Noir trilogy, but not with the same characters. I love long series, but that hasn’t happened for me.
The Grand Man is the first book of my trilogy. The second book is also completed, and it’s called The Woman Who Went Overboard. The main character is an American woman who becomes obsessed with a Norwegian man during a Norwegian coastal cruise. Unfortunately the man prefers her new best friend, and by the end of the cruise the new friend is dead. I went on a cruise to research the book, and it was a lot of fun to write. My agent tried to sell that book as well, but without any luck, so I plan to self-publish it in the fall of 2020.
The third book is in progress. It’s called The Dark Season, and it’s set in Svalbard, the island group north of Norway. I have the first draft, but it’s going to take at least two years to finish!
The other project I have going on is writing short stories in Swedish. Horror stories, actually. I love a Swedish podcast called Creepypodden, and I have been really inspired by that. Jack Werner is the name of the fellow who runs it, and he encourages listeners to send in stories. I have sent in a couple, and it’s great because he gives detailed feedback that’s really helpful. I should also mention that I work with my tutor Lukas Häusler on these stories! My Swedish is a work in progress, and I still need a lot of help. But it’s really enjoyable, and I like the challenge.

About Florence Wetzel:

Photo by Helena Berzelius (

Florence Wetzel was born in 1962 in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in Westfield, NJ. She went to Barnard College where she studied with writer B. J. Chute. Florence is the author of several novels, as well as a book of poetry and the jazz mystery novel Dashiki. She worked as a jazz journalist for many years, including co-authoring the autobiography Perry Robinson: The Traveler. Florence lives part-time in Stockholm.