Today I’m delighted to feature YA author Sif Sigmarsdóttir. This might seem like a bit of departure for me as I don’t normally ‘do’ YA (young adult). However as an ex librarian I found it was ‘young adults’ who more readily dropped off the reading map as life had other diversions to offer. This is something that has intensified even more so since I left the library world, with the pervasive use of social media. Therefore I’m always happy to see authors, like Sif, who are tackling contemporary issues in a way that makes them accessible and engaging for older, but not yet adult readers. I’m also keen on her feminist edge, to encourage girls to have the strength to believe in themselves in a world that isn’t always as balanced as it should be.
Sif Sigmarsdóttir is a writer and journalist originally from Iceland. She lives in London and writes books and journalism in both English and Icelandic. Her new book is called The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake and it’s a Nordic noir YA thriller which can be described as “Nancy Drew meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Her weekly column in Iceland’s biggest newspaper is the country’s most read.
So over to Sif,
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. The music you fall in love with as a teenager makes a long-lasting impression. Grunge was the sound track to my teens. Did you know that Kurt Cobain was a feminist?
Winter by Tori Amos. I wish I could include all of Tori Amos’ songs but since this is a list of five mathematically that just doesn’t add up. I listened to her albums religiously while growing up.
Requiem by Jón Leifs. Jón Leifs was an iconic Icelandic composer and quite a character. This haunting a cappella choral piece is dedicated to the memory of Leif’s daughter who drowned in a swimming accident shortly before her 18th birthday. I’d always been into classical music but the music of Jón Leifs got me interested in more contemporary composers. I’m a historian and I wrote my thesis on Jón Leifs and his musical career.
Bach’s St Matthew Passion. Being an atheist didn’t stop me from singing in a church choir for more than a decade. There I fell in love with Johann Sebastian Bach.
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga’s music is just so invigorating.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
BBC Radio 4. I’m addicted to it. When I went to the hospital to give birth to my first child the only thing I remembered to bring was a radio. My daughter was born to the theme tune of The Archers.
Cold coffee. My writing is fuelled by it. Without it I’m a like a car with an empty tank.
My Holy Trinity: My Kindle for reading books, my iPad for reading newspapers and my mobile for browsing social media.
And given the previous answer, a charger.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Get more sleep.
Eat your greens.
Have more fun.
Life is short.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I’m a news addict and I get most of the ideas for my books from reading the papers in the morning.
Working as a journalist in Iceland I was once blacklisted by a prime minister. But I got my revenge. He became the inspiration for the most obnoxious villain I’ve ever created in a novel.
I don’t believe in inspiration; I believe in perspiration. As a writer it’s important to sit down and force yourself to write everyday whether you feel up to it or not.
My writing is greatly influenced by my Nordic background. The strangest Scandinavian thing that has inspired me is a bowl. I once wrote a Young Adult novel with a sci-fi element called I am Traitor. The space ships in the book are inspired by a bowl – as in fruit bowl. Not any old bowl though, but a famous bowl made by the Danish designer Georg Jensen. These bowls are very minimalistic, made from stainless steel and stand empty on countless table-tops all across the Nordic countries. I have one. My parents have one, my brothers, my friends in Iceland, my cousins in Denmark, everyone…
My name comes from Norse mythology – Sif is the goddess wife of Thor, the strong and handsome thunder god. I tried to find a Thor for a husband but no one was available.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
They say youth is wasted on the young. At the top of my bucket list is going back to university. I had a fantastic time at uni the first time around. But at that age you’re often not in a position to truly enjoy or appreciate it. You’re busy with your studies but you’re also busy with figuring out who you are, making new friends, worrying about the future and finding your place in the world. That leaves little time to relish your studies. I want to do a degree just for the sake of learning. I want to immerse myself in books without worrying about whether the knowledge they contain can be used to earn a living. I want to go to university for some time out, for a chance to reinvigorate my soul. I see it as a luxury spa trip for the brain.
I love travelling and I’d like to visit every country in the world at least once. I realise that’s probably not going to happen so I’ll settle for half.
Mastering the perfect chocolate cake.
Living in New York.
Writing a play.
Thanks for joining me today Sif, it was great to get to know more about you. I know we’d get on – you had me at chocolate! Can I have an invite when you also master the perfect chocolate cake? I need to go and investigate Requiem by Jón Leifs as he’s a composer I’ve not heard of. I can also vouch for going to University when you’re older. I was classed as a mature student (only 22) but I appreciated the experience much more having worked for four years. I still had fun, but I did the degree I wanted to, not the degree I might have been pidgeon- holed into from school. I also met my now husband, so definitely not wasted! Good luck with your travelling, even half the world would be fantastic.
Sif’s Books (in English)
The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake tells the story of Hannah who has spent her life taking care of her troubled mother. When her mother dies suddenly she goes to live with her estranged father in Iceland. There she turns her hand to journalism. While reporting on a social media influencer accused of murder, she uncovers the dubious practices of a data-driven marketing agency called London Analytica which appears to be willing to go to any lengths to protect its efforts to capitalise on people’s personal data.
Explores important themes such as identity in the age of social media, feminism, the me too movement, mental health and the importance of internet privacy. The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is a gripping novel with strong female characters you can’t help but root for.
At the end of the world, who can you trust? The story of one teen’s fight against an extra-terrestrial invasion. For fans of Michael Grant, Suzanne Collins and Robert Muchamore.
London has been targeted by extra-terrestrial life and victims are transported to a terrifying other world.
Amy Sullivan is an unwilling hero. She runs until she can’t run any more. Then, she is taken.
To have a chance of saving herself, and her planet, Amy will have to put faith in those she fears the most. But what if it means becoming a traitor to everyone she has ever loved?
A modern-day War of the Worlds from one of Iceland’s bestselling authors.
Keep in touch with Sif via