Foto: Bastian Parschau
Foto: Bastian Parschau


Ulf Bergström, born 1972, holds a Master's degree from the College of Europe, and has worked with EU affairs, including as Press Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Bosse Ringholm. He has also worked with EU affaris in Belgium, in Greece at the EU IT Security Agency ENISA, and in the Netherlands at the European judicial cooperation body against serious, organised crime, Eurojust. He is active in the public debate e.g. regarding Arlanda being named after WWII diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and has been an opera singer at Folkoperan and the Stockholm Opera, having made his debute at the tender age of elven years as a soloist.
Ulf has worked with words, media, public affairs, politics and communications for twenty years, attended courses in creative writing. Additionally, he has read tons of thrillers and crime novels over the years.
Twitter; @UlfBergstrom, @Hatarna
Instagram: hatarna_ulfbm
YouTube: Om Hatarna

From EU, politics and opera to the dream of becoming an author 

”Daddy, since you have read so many crime novels, why do you not write one yourself?" Ulf asked his father as a boy. Little did he know that, perhaps, he was asking that question to himself, or, at least he would be the one to answer it. After having worked for more than fifteen years with words, media, politics and comunications within the EU and having a couple of hundred crime novels, he decided to go for it hundred per cent himself. Also because a good friend passed away, and it became even more clear that life is not forever. If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to work for it. Now. Ulf Bergström decided to actively use his acquired knowledge in a different format than what he could do at work, and to write a novel in the thriller format. He set for himself to learn the tools of the trade, how to build and tell a story with leading characters, both through online courses and by attending the well reputed writers Skrivarakademin's - crimenovel course.

He wanted to write a story with substance, with a female leading character who had a latent anxiety, working for a law enforcement authorities, close to the power, getting involved in tracking down terrorists in a hunt, and what the reactions and repurcussion would be in society after an attack of this kind. That is how Nina Sandstedt at the Swedish secret service, Säpo, became the main character in the Haters-Hatarna.

Who is Nina Sandstedt?
- Nina Sandstedt is a young, thrifty police inspector at the Swedish secret service. She is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the democracy and society, and at at the same time, she does not shy way from using whichever methods to succeed in her job, even if it means that she herself may have to cross the line and break the law in the fight against the evil, and for justice.

-I find it more interesting to explore where exactly is this limit? When does society or individuals working for upholding the law, the good guys, commit crime to stop the evil, to stop the bad guys? When does society error albeit for the greater good? Are the evil characters only evil, or do they also have some positive character traits and thoughts?  A piano playing sharpshooter with a great interest for culture is interesting, somewhat of a paradox, and therefore more interesting than a black and white murder machine. Therefore, I constructed a few more complex characters in the story.

In parallel to his work, Ulf began writing. Twenty minutes at Arlanda Express, one and a half hours in a plane was his own time. After writing only when he felt for it during a year, and the first hundred pages were ready, he realized that the story and characters were good.The text was strong and interesting enough. He became obsessed with finishing the project and began writing in a frantic way, whenever he was free. Once he missed a flight because he was totally focussed on the text.

- After writing the first script, I received two  encouraging letters from first two large publishers. I received two positive, encouraging letters from initially two large publishers. Rejection, but a step forward. Most people get no answers at all from the publisher, and without any explanation. Of the five thousand submitted scripts, around five percent gets a comment at all. I belonged to this group. Later, I got three more encouraging reviews from yet other publishers. Then I knew, I had a sufficiently good script, story and characters.

So what happened?
- Writing is to rewrite. Endurance. I heard about other, now successful writers, who had not even received any response from the publishers. I heard about a famous person who did not get published until he submitted it under his real name. At that time, I realized how difficult it is to get published through the big, established publishers. With encouraging reviews from five different publishers, I had a receipt on that my story and the characters really were something good, something unique. It was time to rethink my strategy ahead.

How did you reason?
- I was encouraged by some other successful authors, one of which first was self-publishers, as well as by the teacher behind a success thriller. In addition, an editor gave some wise inouts on how I could still further sharpen the story, the pace and the characters. She remarked that the story had the "nerve" all the way through. In the United States, self-publishing is seen as evedience for being thrifty, and over there, it is quite usual for debut novels. It is 2018. You can publish your book yourself. Hatarna-The haters- also had a super current story. The title -the Haters-perfectly captured the unfortunate spirit of today's society, where media reported about hate each and every other day in the headlines. As-the Haters-Hatarna at the same time could be seen as a key novel, when some people changed jobs, someone died in reality, their role in the fiction was not as funny any more. So, I simply had to get the novel out quickly. I could not wait four months for yet another reply from a publishing house, then wait yet another one and a half years before it would be out in the bookstore, or available online. It would have been a total of two years more to wait.

Immediately when the book was published, Word Audio Publishing loved the story and signed a contract for the rights to produce the Haters-Hatarna as an audio book, which now is available over the top three Swedish audio platforms, Storytel, Nextory and Bookbeat.
Soon after, the film option rights in Swedish were sold too, and he has been touring Sweden since, signing his book.

Ulf is now working on two, independent follow up stories with Nina Sandstedt, in parallel with some other writing projects in different genres.

What do is the most fun of having released your debut book?
- Partly to meet readers and talk about the content. To get reactions on the characters and the story itself. To realise that the text gave rise to creative thoughts, both in the design of the cover and in the video of other super professionals, and to all the amazing, unexpected Instagram images of readers. Additionally, I have completed the dream most Swedes have, that is to write write a book. If I had not been so stubborn, to really make it this time, despite rejections albeit with positive reviews, I would never have done it. Then it would have been forever stuck in the drawers, just as a few earlier manuscripts. But I toiled. I did not give up. I wrote and re-wrote it. I become good at utilizing ever so short little moments. Disciplined. Ten minutes here, twenty minutes there, eventually become many words and rewrites. That endurance makes me happy and proud. There is a saying that you should plant a tree, become the father of a daughter, and to write a book. Well, to lend the words of the Swedish pop band you should "write a book that everyone is reading". That is something I have done now.