Last week I had the unique opportunity of interviewing Hans-Ake Lija. As many of you know, he is the founder of the most viewed on-line Stephen King fan based website, Lilja’s Library. For over 10 years now, he has brought us the latest breaking news from the Stephen King universe. Stephen King’s official website has even praised it as “A Fan Site with a wealth of information.” Here is the question and answer session along with a few reader questions below:
There are many Stephen King fan sites out there. What makes yours unique that has contributed to its success over the years?
“I think that the number one thing is that I keep the news section updated. It’s extremely important to keep websites updated, what every it’s about, and I think I have done quite a good job on that. I think and hope that people know that if they go to Lilja’s Library they’ll find the latest news and most of the time quite early. I also hope my readers like the other things on the site and that it all together makes Lilja’s Library a quite nice site to visit, both if you want to know the latest news or need to do research for a school paper.”
Your site, as it has been said before, has a wealth of information. If a new visitor comes to your site, where should they start? In other words, do you have a “best of Lilja” section?
“That depends a little on their reason for visiting the site. My guess is that most want to know what’s happening in the King world and if that is the case they’ll just have to read the first thing they see on the site since my front page is also my news page. If they want older news they can get that in the archive and if they want a view over what’s in the pipeline they can find that under the “Release list” link. I believe the site is easy to navigate so anyone visiting shouldn’t have any problems knowing where they should go.”
Every couple of years I notice you completely redesign the website. Why is this and how long before we see a new design in the works?
“As with everything else it gets a bit boring to keep looking at the same stuff year after year and when that happens you know it’s time to redesign. And then you also have the functions on the site to consider. There’s always a better or a smarter way to do things and eventually you need to do an upgrade. After the last redesign (done by my friend Anders Jakobson) the site is very easy to update and that makes my work easier so that redesign was well worth. There might be some changes later this year but the details are still being worked on so we’ll have to wait and see if something happens…”
The big craze lately has been Twitter and the millions of users it attracts. Do you twit, and if not, are you planning to in the near future?
“No, I don’t twit. I feel that I keep my readers updated with the site and I have no desire to twitter about myself. For that I would have to live a more interesting life then I do…”
Do you have a Stephen King book collection, and if so, what is your most prized treasure? And is it signed?
“I do have a collection but it’s not very impressive. I do however have some items that I’m quite proud of. The most expensive (in terms of money) would be a copy of “Six Stories” (and yes, it’s signed). When it comes to sentimental value my most valued items are a few copies of “Lisey’s Story” that Steve signed for me in person, face to face, in London 2006.”
Your website appeared in The Stand comic, you have a new book coming out, so the next logical step would be a movie. Would you ever consider playing a role in any one of King’s movies and would you do it if asked?
“Haha, well, I don’t know if that is a logical step… If I was asked to play something like a corps that was just lying around being gory that would be fun but I totally suck in the acting department so I would not accept a leading role in a movie.”
The Upcoming New Book
Let’s talk about the new book. Can you tell us a little bit about this book and how the idea of publishing this came about? Is it going to be illustrated?
“Well, the book is a collection of all the reviews and interviews I have done for the site up till around mid 2008 and a some extra reviews and interviews that isn’t on the site. I was approached by Cemetery Dance about doing the book and for about a second I though “is this a good idea?” and then I accepted ? I guess we’ll know later this year if I was right.
The book is illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne who’s illustrated the “Secretary of Dreams” books as well as created my mascot Marv – The Library Policeman and the mascot for Steve’s radio station. He has also done the beautiful illustrations that you can see on the front and back cover.”
When is it scheduled to be released and how can someone get a signed copy?
“It’s scheduled for an October release so it’s still a few months until it’s available. Anyone interested in buying a copy can go here: http://www.liljas-library.com/section.php?id=59 to find links to Cemetery Dance, Amazon and other places that sells it. There is also a table of contents there.
There will be a trade edition for and a signed lettered edition. If someone wants the trade edition signed I’m afraid they will have to send the book to me (and return postage) since I probably won’t be doing any signings ? If anyone’s interested they can contact me at email@example.com and we’ll take it from there. Please remember that I live in Sweden though and it might const a few dollars to send the book.”
Anything else you’d like to say to your readers out there that they probably don’t know about you?
“I don’t think that they are that interested in me as a person 🙂 I can tell you though that Lilja is my last name (my first is Hans-Ake) and I’m not a female :). A lot of people have thought I’m a she based on that they think Lilja is my first name. That is not the case though.”
Questions from our Readers
And now, here are several questions that our readers sent in :
If you could be one of the characters in one of Stephen King’s novels, who would you be and why?
“That is a very difficult question to answer. It would be fun to be Jack in “The Talisman” because he gets to have a wolf as a friend and he has a lot of adventures. There are other characters that I’d like to be as well but unfortunately they always find themselves in situations I don’t want to be in 🙂 so I guess I have to go with Jack even though he gets in trouble as well.”
I devour Stephan King books as soon as they come out. I’ve read several of his books several times and I’m going to start reading “The Dark Towers” again. How many of his books have you read over and over? Which ones? Which book was your first Stephan King book?
“My first book was “Carrie”. I read that one in the mid 80’s when I got it as a Christmas present. I have since read all his books and several of them more than once. Which and how many I don’t know but I have found that I prefer to read it myself the first time and then listen to the audio version the second time. There is a lot of stuff you’ll find different when someone else reads for you. The one book that I have read the most times is “The Long Walk” which is one of my favorite books by Steve. I think I have read it about 4 or 5 times and it’s just as good every time.”
You interviewed artists like Michael Whelan, Stutzman and Wrightson among others. Interviewed filmmakers like Frank Darabont and Mikael Håfström. Your website appeared in The Stand comic. You interviewed Stephen King (TWICE!) and met him. After more than 10 years working in your website, is there anything you’re still looking forward to achieve?
“No, I have done it all… 🙂 Just kidding. I definitely have a lot more I want to do with the site. If I hadn’t it would be time to put it out of it’s misery. I have a lot of names left on my wish-list for interviews. I would love to interview George A. Romero who’s been involved in many King adaptations. I also hope to get the chance to do more interviews with Steve himself. My readers seem to like them and I like doing them so it’s a win-win situation. Or maybe I could publish an original Stephen King story on Lilja’s Library… That would be very cool! I don’t know if the server would survive it though :)”
Lilja, operating your website must be costly in terms of time and money. I see some ads from other SK related sites but will the time come when you have to make a nominal charge to help it pay its way? It’s a brilliant site and long may it continue whatever you do.
“No, I will never charge people for stuff on the site. I have (twice) asked for donations to keep the site up and running and both times my readers have been extremely kind and donated. And I have a donation link at the bottom of the site that from time to time generates some money. But that’s it. I might have to ask for donations again and if so I will but I will never charge people for anything on the site.”
Lilja, being that you are not an American, do you think this gives you a unique perspective when reading and analyzing the works of an American author like Stephen King?
“I don’t know if it gives me a unique perspective but I think it might give me a different perspective then reviewers in the US. With that said though I’m not sure if it’s better or worse. Maybe it’s just different…”
Well, Lilja, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. It’s been a real pleasure.
“Thank you! It was fun!”
There you have it. Everything you wanted to know and more. So what do you think? Leave a comment below. For the latest Stephen King news and updates, be sure to visit Lilja’s Library by clicking on the banner below: