“Joy is what brings it all forward” – the copy editor tells the story


Meet Agneta Wallgren, the copy editor who finds it just as fun to work with Lasse and Maja now as she did thirteen years ago. She has received awards for her curiosity and is now even considering changing her hair to look more like the illustration Helena has made of her. Talking to Agneta is talking about passion for books and she is always laughing about her own meticulousness when working with the series.

Agneta Wallgren has been the copy editor for the series about Lasse and Maja from the start in 2002. In 2007 she got a prestigious award “Best Editor of the Year” for her work with the texts “for her way of combining the curiosity, language and design into creative playfulness…”

Agneta Wallgren is the copy editor who loves books in which text and illustrations tell a story together, especially for older children. This is what she wanted to transmit when she started thinking about a project that in the end became LasseMaja’s Detective Agency. The illustrations are to be many and they need to tell the story its own way creating good characters and environments. This to give the first readers “an offer they can’t refuse”, as she puts it.

And behind it all was timing, a vision of a new type of book and good cooperation between Helena, Martin, and the editorial team. And let’s not forget: All successes demand hard work!

Agneta goes through all the books several times together with the designer Lena Thunell in order to find the perfect double spreads. Agneta is inspired by cartoons, the cinema and the theatre. Every book is to be a page-turner! Check out the dramatic end in The Prison Mystery – this is a great example of this. Agneta tells the author and illustrator what she thinks should change by handwritten, somewhat messy comments in the margin. “Martin and Helena sigh that they refuse to discuss a punctuation problem with me once more”, she laughs. Agneta’s thoroughness has saved some odd situations. She managed to clarify who drinks and who eats what during the coffee break in The Prison Mystery. Sometimes it takes time to discover a problem. For example, the waitress in The Train Mystery had been walking in the wrong direction throughout the years. This was finally changed now that the color version was made, after 10 years. The changes were made in the text and the waitress now pulls the wagon behind her instead of pushing it in front of her. “Yes, I really need to mind my p’s and q’s”, she smiles.

“There are many keys to the series’ success and entertaining value. Except Martin’s fantastic way of bringing the author through the story: Easy to read but not easy to solve, there are Helena’s quirky illustrations also who help the reader understand the crime: who was where, who did what at what time. All stories have the same high quality and can be read as stand-alones. There is a joy in making the books for all. You can tell that Martin likes the stories he writes, and Helena enjoys making the somewhat stiff characters. That is why it so much fun to work with the series.”

“Lasse and Maja themselves are not that amusing on their own. It is the crazy characters around them, the city of Valleby that makes it so much fun.”

Agneta Wallgren is considering trying a new hair color now that she has seen what Agneta Wikander looks like in color. Adding color is also adding a new perspective to the stories.