Q & A with Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

02 January 2014

By Pan Macmillan

How would you describe The Little Old Lady Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules?

It is a book about five people, all over 70, who become tired of the way society treats them. They leave their care home in a bid to launch a new career as thieves because they have noticed that prisoners are treated better in jail than old aged people in an old people’s home!

Why did you decide to write about a group of friends living in a care home?

I get so frustrated when I read about harsh savings on elderly care. These older people have built today’s society and made it possible for many of us to have a good life. But then when they are ‘past it’ they are treated very badly. This is just not on. So whilst this book is full of humour, it is also a huge protest against a society that forgets human values. I wanted to highlight this issue and make people think about the care of elderly citizens.

Who is your favourite character in the League of Pensioners?

Actually, I love them all. Martha is my central character of course, and I identify with her, but I like Brains very much too as well as Anna-Greta, Christina and Rake. So, you see, it is difficult to single out just one of them…

Can you see yourself becoming like Martha as you grow older?

Yes, or perhaps I might be even more outrageous! But I’d like to think that I would eat more healthily – and not steal so much.

Do you have a favourite moment in the book?

My favourite moment is when the League of Pensioners steal the paintings at the National Museum – and the end of the book too.

Do you have any favourite novels?

I enjoy feel good novels. I also read Dickens, Oscar Wilde and many other English authors. I love English films too and the wonderful sense of humour that English people have!

The Little Old Lady Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules has been published under different titles in different languages. Can you tell us what the other titles are and what they mean?

The original Swedish title is Kaffe med R�n which translated means ‘coffee and robbery’. Some countries have followed the Swedish title, i.e the Icelandic version Kaffi og R�n. The German title is Wir fangen gerade erst an (‘we’ve only started now’), the Italian title is La banda degli insoliti ottantenni (‘You cannot trust the 80 year olds’), the Norwegian titles is Svindel og multelik�r (‘crookery and Cloudberry liquor’), the Spanish title is La Bolsa o la vida (‘the money or your life’) and the Dutch title is very much the same: Je geld of je leven.

I love the English title, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, because it says exactly what the book is all about. A group of elderly people who break all the rules – with Martha as their leader. And then I identify with the title personally as well!

What do you hope readers will take away from reading about Martha and the gang?

I want them to take care of the old, take care of each other, to remember human values and most of all to enjoy life. 

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules