BANGKOK TWILIGHT – new novel by Swedish author
Meet blond Swede Peter Björk, who grew up in Värmland, in his regional and resident town of Karlstad. There is a famous expression in Swedish saying “The sun always shines in Karlstad”. True or not, this is where Peter attended school and where he spent most of his youth.
“It was a very enjoyable upbringing,” says Peter.
After completing his education, military service awaited and Peter joined the Värmland Regiment and later the professional officer training program. He attended Halmstad Military Academy. Later he moved to – in Sweden – the highly respected Krigshögskolan Karlsberg, (the War College Karlsberg in Sweden).
After his years in the military, he asked for a leave of absence and enrolled at Uppsala University.
There, Peter decided to study “Human Resource Management”. Peter also went to Chalmers Tekniska Högskola (Chalmers University of Technology) in Gothenburg, a very prestigious university, later to study “change management”.
Between his studies at Uppsala and Chalmers universities, he found a job with Stena Line, the ferry company with ferries to Denmark, Norway and Germany.
Gothenburg became his base and it was convenient as Peter had a brother living there and a residence in Bohuslän (the coast). Peter became responsible for service personnel on ferries to Denmark and Norway.
After a few years, he and some researchers and students from Chalmers and Handelshögskolan decided to form a company together. They have worked as consultants in the public sector and industry, hospitals, schools and the automotive industry. This activity continued for almost the 1990s.
Well, how did Peter end up in Bangkok, Thailand?
A Swedish friend of Peter, moved to Bangkok in the late 1980s, married a Thai woman and opened a tailoring business. Peter has visited them several times as a tourist. When the Great Depression hit in 1997, Peter had the idea of setting up the same kind of business here that he had in Sweden, and still has, in Thailand.
He contacted the Swedish Embassy, the Export Council and the 3 Swedes Anders Lundqvist, Håkan Skoglund and Johan Winlöf from Connector Asia. Together they rented an office at One Pacific Place, which was also the location of the Swedish Embassy. We are now talking about the year 1998. As most of us have experienced, it was not so easy to get started, requiring a lot of research to do, with companies to visit, seminars to organize, etc. . During this period, Sweden had an ambassador SEMrs. Inga Eriksson-Fogh who helped and supported them, although she was transferred to Sweden in 1998.
For a few years Peter had one steady foot in Sweden and another in Bangkok.
Peter also worked for the Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce, as Executive Director for 4 years, then in the same position with the European Chamber of Commerce (EABC). Today, he is back as President of the Swedish Thai Chamber of Commerce, SWECHAM.
He also lived for a year in Cambodia, but moved back and forth between Thailand and Cambodia as he did not want to move from his beloved Bangkok.
About 10-15 years ago he started thinking about writing a book. He had quite clear in his mind the subject of the book and he started early. He rested for quite a while, but after about 3 years later he started writing again and Covid allowed him to spend a lot of time writing on this project.
Writing a book by yourself without any help is an impossible task. Peter was happy to have good advisers, including a friend’s wife, Camilla Söderlund who is a linguist and who gave him very important advice. This, in addition to the help Peter received from the publisher, Gregers Möller and his wife Disraporn made it possible to finally get the book printed and published.
“It’s a kind of ‘adventure novel’ (Äventyrsroman) says Peter. The name Bangkok Twilight means twilight, nightfall, but may also reflect the differences we live and experience in the Land of Smiles, as it means also a period or state of darkness, ambiguity or gradual decline.
Asking Peter what he likes and dislikes about Thailand, he replies, “I’m most fascinated by this country, especially Bangkok; it works like a magnet on me. You are always discovering new things; he has a high pulse and that attracts me. People are friendly even if you can’t always understand them or their logic. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand the culture here, but I like the Buddhist way of thinking. People are mostly humble.
“I also like the climate, although April and May are a bit too humid and hot. I love Thai food and I happen to eat it and like it as spicy as the Thais themselves. We are spoiled with so many great restaurants here and there is always something going on. Bangkok, was before Covid, a city that never sleeps. Plus, Thai hospitality is truly world class.
“The negative for me is just that they often say one thing, but mean something else,” he adds.
Wanting to know if Peter has found a place in Thailand that he really loves and is going back to, his answer comes quickly, River Kwai.
Asking Peter about his future plans, he smiled.
“Well, I’m planning on doing a trilogy and the next books will be in the years after the millennium. They will reflect the authentic historical context of that period, but like Bangkok Twilight, it will be a mixture of fantasy and reality.
Now we know we have two more books to look forward to.
Congratulations Peter on the first public release of your book!
“If you’ve lived here for a few years, chances are you’ll recognize some of the characters,” Peter concludes with a wink.