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Interview with author Gunnar Skollingsberg

Posted by Lydhia Marie on May 26, 2015 at 11:55 AM

No need for an introduction, Don't Cry Pappa and its description is the best way to present author Gunnar Skollingsberg.


Parents live in perpetual, subconscious fear of losing a child. For Gunnar Skollingsberg, this ultimate nightmare has come true not once, but twice. In his new memoir, Don’t Cry, Pappa, he chronicles his journey from devastating, suicidal depression to tentative, fragile healing. Gunnar was able to work through his darkest periods and recover the drive to live beyond his children’s deaths. He eventually refocused his life’s purpose to bring moments of happiness to other children.

A refreshingly honest and evocative memoir, this book is filled with unimaginable heartbreak as well as pure love and joy. Truly, Don’t Cry, Pappa works just as well as a self-help book as it does a memoir. With universal themes and an innate structure, this is a good read.

This is a poignant and often insightful book that is both heartrending and ultimately bittersweet. The fact that the author is able to be so open about his thoughts and feelings (even those that might be hard to admit), is what makes this a memoir worth consideration.



Gunnar Skollingsberg

Title of most recent book:

The title/subtitle of my book – a memoir – is: Don’t Cry, Pappa: Surviving Persistent Depression and Heartbreaking Tragedies to Find a New Mission in Life

What inspired you to write this book?

My main inspiration in writing this book was to introduce the world to two of my beautiful little children, who died all too soon. My first child was killed in a traffic accident when he was two years old, and – years later – my second daughter drowned when on a camping trip when she was fifteen. After their deaths, I had promised that I would not let the world forget them.

In this book, I combined their stories with the story of my life-long depression, and how these two deaths compounded this condition (and almost destroyed me). Eventually, I worked myself around to the point that I developed a new purpose in life: to bring moments of happiness and joy to other children through laughter. I had a full-time job working in various elementary schools at that time, so I was able to integrate this goal with my daily contact with the students (and I describe my methods in accomplishing this in the book, as well). I believe that my two children would be pleased that I do this for other children.

If any, what challenges did you meet while writing this book?

There were a couple of challenges that I had to deal with. One challenge was that I started with only the title, Don’t Cry, Pappa (this is what I imagined that my two children would want to say, to tell me to stop crying and being sad for them). This title rattled around in my head for a couple of years. Next, I eventually wrote the epilogue, which describes what I wish and hope for in the future (it is unusual to have an epilogue in a memoir, but it works here). After that, I outlined and filled in the rest of the story and events to bring the reader to the epilogue.

The second challenge was to try to accurately convey the breadth and strength of my various emotions and feelings within the book’s pages. I poured out my soul into this project, and there are sections and passages that I cannot read – even now – without becoming emotional myself. According to feedback I’ve received from various readers, it appears that I have been successful in meeting this challenge.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I’ve had a few ‘accomplishments’ in my life (such as attaining different levels of achievement in my profession and earning graduate-level university degrees), but my best accomplishment – and honor – would be becoming a father to beautiful children. I have four surviving children, and I am so very proud of each one of them. They are successful in their professions and are embarked on their own life journeys.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

I don’t know if there are any particular subjects that would ‘never write about’ as an author. I recognize that there are certain genres that I am not successful in working in, and I could see that this would limit possible future writing endeavors.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was interested in writing when I was in elementary school, and I wrote some pathetic stories at that time. I’ve been very interested in reading all of my life, and I suppose that this interest has fueled a desire to write.

What book do you wish you could have written? And why?

Every time I see a book at the top of the NYT Best-Sellers List, I secretly wish that I had written that. Seriously, however, I do have an interest in early Western American literature, such as the trailblazers, explorers, mountain men, early contacts with Native Americans, etc. I’d really like to write another Mountain Man.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Since Don’t Cry, Pappa covers a large portion of my personal life, I’m now working on a book that taps my professional training and experience. It will give practical information and advice to facilitate the effectiveness of the teaching/learning process for tutors and homeschooling parents.

What do you want to accomplish before you die?

My projected accomplishments at this point (besides finishing my second writing project) is to try to enjoy the time I have left – and my health permits – by travelling and visiting places and people. I also want to see my children, and their children, and I want to do what I can do to help them be happy. I want to do all the things I didn’t have time to accomplish when I was younger.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Right now, I’m semi-retired. After growing up, going to school, and working until my retirement in the United States, I built a small home in my birth country: Norway (my family emigrated to the U.S. when I was an infant). I live in Norway for the time being. I also currently work part-time as an English teacher in a Norwegian public school, learning new things and experiencing a new culture (and making children laugh whenever I can).

You can find Gunnar Skollingsberg's memoir on Amazon and Barnes&Noble

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