Homotropolis recently met up with author Kristofer Folkhammar for a coffee and a quick chat. Folkhammar is the author of two well-received novels about complex relationships in the gay community.
We meet up with Kristofer at a café close to Möllan in Malmö. He is a tall guy with kind eyes. He smiles and tells us that he is a little tired at the moment due to the fact that he just became a parent in the beginning of this summer. “It’s awesome! Feels like a blessing”, he says. “At the same time it’s more practical than emotional right now. It’s a fascinating state of being, how love and duty is exactly the same in relation to my daughter”.
Folkhammar’s first novel, “Isak & Billy”, portrays a couple with completely opposite personas. They struggle with love, sexual power and images of masculinity and in this chaos of feelings they try to find a balance in their life together.
We sip some coffee and ask Kristofer about the reviews of the novel which has two gay guys as main characters.
“It was my debut and it feels like a long time ago. I guess I was rather overwhelmed since most of it was positive, but at the same time it was so obvious how it was read with a straight gaze. Several critics were careful to announce that “Isak & Billy” was a “universal story about love”. Yeah, of course it is. But what about the specifics? What about the fact that this story is about two gays in love? That gay love is actually forced to deal with homophobia and heteronormativity, for instance”.
What about the writing process then? What is it that kickstarts a story? For Kristofer it has always started with a rhythm, image or a sentence. Something that is impossible for him to neglect. Writing Isak & Billy, it started with their names and the subtle powerplay in the sentence: “Det är viktigt för Isak att det är Billy som kommer fram till honom och inte tvärtom.” (“It is important to Isak that it is Billy who approaches him, and not the other way around.”)
“When it comes to the actual writing I write and rewrite and rewrite. It takes forever and I guess that’s one of the reasons why my books aren’t very thick. As a writer I try to create fictive rooms where gay bodies and desires can be explored”.
His second novel “Magisterlekarna” is a dreamy mix of high school drama and gay porn.
“I wanted to write a simple story in a poetic and intense way but with deeper undertones about identity and power. The story sets at a school where everyone – the teachers, the students, the janitor – are gay. It follows a teacher that struggles with his S/M-desires, and a group of students, “the hyenas”, willing to do anything to reach popularity and status. It is a fun story with lots of sex, yet kind of dark. So far my books have depended on humour to some extent”, Kristofer explains.
“I think the next step will be to write completely without it as a support. I want to see what happens if I don’t rely on it”.
We certainly need more writers like Kristofer. We need a wider range in queer literature not just for LGBTQ people but also to make it a daily element within the general society. We need to see the queer aspect in every genre: comedy, fantasy, horror. We ask him what he wants more of in queer literature today. He tells that he wants to see more in general.
“More diversity, complexity and the chance to both confirm and expand LGBT and queer experiences”.
“As in the rest of the literature field queer literature is to a great extend white, middle class business, told in conventional, confessional ways. It needs to expand. More sex, more weird, with bolder intersections with other issues. And we should never ever be concerned about being constructive or educational towards the straight world. The incitement of our work should never be to please someone else. Or ourselves, for that matter. That’s easy to forget”.
We drink up and Kristofer is eager to get home to his daughter. The crew of Homotropolis is excited to see what the future holds for this talented writer.