Great Little Britain is an independent literary agency, based in Sweden, representing a group of authors and fictional works. It has exclusive world rights for most of its titles. We caught up with Åsa Bengtsson, who co-founded the company with her partner Peter Börjesson, and asked her about some of the exciting authors they represent and which parts of the world she’d like to sell translation rights to.
You began Great Little Britain in 2012 with your partner, Peter. What made you decide to start a business together and how did you choose the name?
We actually started a translation agency together because I wanted to use my English skills to help Swedish authors and entrepreneurs to reach an international audience and we also wanted to offer proofreading and text editing in Swedish, which is Peter’s forte. The literary agency popped up as a possible venture a bit later on and we only added that leg of the business in 2017.
As I had lived in England for so many years, and my speciality was British English, Peter thought we should include something with Britain in the name and logo. We brainstormed lots of names and combinations, but we both felt Great Little Britain was a catchy name that would hopefully stick in the minds of our potential customers.
What other work does Great Little Britain do?
We now offer not only translation from Swedish to English, but virtually any language pair under the sun, as well as proofreading, transcribing, typesetting, copywriting, editing work, ‘rent-a-voice’ for audio recordings.
What kinds of books do you represent?
We have a whole range of books from children’s books to feel-good, crime to chick-lit.
Mostly Swedish authors, but also a couple of Brits wanting to conquer Scandinavia.
Tell us about an author you represent that you’re excited about!
I am really excited about Daniel Edfeldt, a children’s’ author that is much loved by the Swedish audience and he is currently writing the second book in his new series ‘The Tree at the End of the World”. I think he will take the world by storm.
I also want to mention Sara H. Olsson, a chick-lit, feel-good author who has hit the bestseller charts in Sweden. Her last series about two young women, Johanna and Nina, is a very amusing tale of everyday life and how quickly your situation can change. She has just released the first novel in a new series about a small coastal town, great characters and intriguing plot to keep you flicking through the pages fast. I feel Sara’s books will appeal to other parts of Scandinavia, Germany and Britain, but also more far-flung places such as the US and South Africa.
What are some of the challenges of translating between Swedish and English?
To get the connotations and colloquialisms just right. Especially if there is a lot of cultural references that only really mean something to Swedish readers, because then this has to be replaced with something that would appeal to an international audience in many different places around the world.
What’s next for Great Little Britain and where would like to see your titles go?
The next thing is to plan for the Gothenburg Book Fair in September and also, after the summer, reconnect with some of the publishers around the world that I met at the London Book Fair earlier this year. I feel relationship building is utterly important and by being genuinely interested in what publishers and other agents around the world are doing and wishing to achieve, I hope to develop a wide network and eventually get my titles out in all corners of the earth.
As a self-professed anglophile, I know you’re a fan of scones. So, the most important question of course is which goes first, the jam or the cream?
Oh yes, I love a proper cream tea with all the trimmings! I must say I prefer to put the cream on first, which I think is the traditional Devonian way. At least if one should trust Wikipedia 😉