Q&A with Marcus Tallberg, publisher, Tallbergs Förlag
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From Sweden with LGBTQ+ Love
Super Inclusive Publisher and Media Company Tallbergs Förlag Comes to North America
Note: The text below is the same as the the full version of the “From Sweden with Love” press release. A short edit is also available on the press release post page.
“If you’ve read one trans novel, you’ve read them all,” that’s what one potential publisher told Swedish author Marcus Tallberg when he was shopping “Being Alice.” Four years later, in addition to “Being Alice,” the Stockholm-based 31 year old entrepreneur has published nearly 40 books by 23 authors under his very own super-inclusive “rainbow media” imprint, Tallbergs Förlag.
Titles range from an epic dystopian sci-fi trilogy to numerous young adult novels, educational children’s books on gender identity and autism and even a Swedish translation of the Michelle Visage memoir, “Diva.” In 2021, Tallbergs Förlag will add ten new titles to the North American rollout of English language versions which began in late 2020. Titles will be distributed by Ingram and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
On a mission to provide role models that give minority groups not only a mirror, but a voice, Tallbergs Förlag is about championing not just LGBTQ identities, but also people of various ethnicities, religions, classes, genders and autism spectrum disorders. “Without representation in media, advertising, literature, film, music, games and so on, it is difficult to form an identity, particularly for young people trying to figure out who they are,” says Tallberg.
“In retrospect, I know that it would have been far less painful for me to come to an understanding of my identity had I had natural role models in my everyday life, even if only in books.” he adds. And in a sense Tallberg became the role model he was seeking. His first two novels, “My Queer Teen Life,” (January 2021) and “Shattered Glass” (November 2020) are autobiographical exercises in self-discovery.
The former, written when Tallberg was just 16, deals with bullying, anxiety, and coming out, and was even used in high school literature classes across Sweden. The latter includes a fictionalized retelling of being raped at 13, the devastation wrought by his parents violent divorce at 16, and surviving the ensuing depression and alcoholism.
Another book set in the same universe is “Being Alice” (November 2020), the subtitle for which reads, “Rising from the ashes of Oliver, Alice takes flight, a glittering phoenix.” Here again, though the story may be fiction, the experiences and inspirational wisdom within are very real, this time based on interviews with ten trans and intergendered contributors.
While one may assume that only LGBTQ readers buy Talberg Förlag’s novels, in actuality the audience is much larger. “Many of my readers are moms,” says Tallberg. And though many of their titles are classified as “young adult,” a 2012 Publisher’s Weekly surveyshowed that 55% of YA readers are actually over 18.
“At the end of the day, I try to tell stories about people,” says Tallberg when explaining the broad appeal of his imprint. “What the characters look like, their sexuality or gender identity aren’t the most important things; it’s their thoughts and experiences that are interesting to readers.”
“We believe everyone needs to learn about each other, to open their eyes and reach out to unite against hatred and ignorance,” says Tallberg. To that end, in addition to books Tallbergs Förlag offers lectures on topics from minority stress, trans children, and autism, to the life of American author, Carson McCullers. They have also released a documentary on three families who have fully accepted their trans children titled “Save Our Lives,” and are currently accepting submissions of short stories about mental illness for a forthcoming anthology.
Though just coming to North America, Tallberg hopes to further expand the Tallbergs Förlag footprint here with the help of U.S. investors. “When I first established my publishing house and was seeking Swedish investors, no one took me seriously,” says Tallberg. “But when we started to become successful, I could see that more and more publishers had started to publish LGBTQ-books. Sadly, most would not commit to marketing them properly. We need more than token representation. We need commitment!” Interested parties can contact Tallberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first three 2021 English language titles to be published in North America are the autobiographical “My Queer Teen Life” (February 2, 2021) by Marcus Tallbergs and Emma Björck, “The Orphan” (February 16, 2021) the first book in the dystopian sci-fi “Kraften” trilogy by Marcus Tallbergs and Emma Frykholm, and “Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher” (February 23, 2021), an illustrated educational children’s book about autism by Marcus Tallberg and Jill C Faulkner with illustrations by Klaudia Drabikowska. A previous autobiographical novel, “Shattered Glass,” and the trans coming out novel, “Being Alice,” both by Marcus Tallberg were released in late 2020.
March 2, 2021 will see the release of the “Perfectly” series (“Perfectly Linus,” “Perfectly Bella,” “Perfectly Charlie”) – three kids books about being a trans kid.
“We all want to be seen, not overlooked or looked down upon. I don’t want anyone to feel alone. When we learn about each other through stories, we understand what is like to walk in someone else’s shoes,” says Tallberg. “My mission is to share those stories.”
Tallbergs Förlag AB is a Stockholm-based rainbow multimedia company that champions minority identities and role models, from LGBTQ, ethnicity, religion, class, and gender to autism spectrum disorders. In addition to being a publisher, the house produces workshops, educational and cultural events, podcasts and documentary films. All Tallbergs Förlag products are available as digitally designed educational packages for schools, businesses and organizations wishing to increase their awareness and understanding of gender, identity and autism. Tallbergs Förlag was established in 2017. http://www.tallbergsforlag.se @tallbergsforlag
Marcus Talberg is an entrepreneur, author, publisher, public speaker and founder of Tallbergs Förlag. He was born and raised in the small town of Trollhättan, Sweden and now lives in Stockholm with his dog Max. @marcustallbergofficial