Seven years ago, Swedish journalist and author Stieg Larsson suffered a heart attack. He died without ever knowing the success of his Millennium trilogy. The books – “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” – have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. Larsson’s longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson, says the books could not have been written without her, and she’s now locked in a bitter dispute with the author’s family. They disagree on the rights and income from the books, and the publication of a possible fourth book. Gabrielsson has written a new memoir in which she details her version of the story. The book is called “’There Are Things I Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson and Me.”

Guests

  • Eva Gabrielsson author, architect, and political activist. Her new memoir, "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me" details her more than 30 years with Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson.

Video

Author, architect, and political activist Eva Gabrielsson talks about her relationship with Millennium Trilogy author Stieg Larsson and the genesis of the books:

Eva Gabrielsson, who was in a relationship and lived with Millennium Trilogy author Stieg Larsson for decades, reads a letter he wrote to her in the 1970s:

Read an Excerpt

From “ ‘There Are Things I Want You to Know’ About Stieg Larsson and Me” by Eva Gabrielsson (Seven Stories Press, June 2011):

Transcript

  • 11:06:54

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm. Swedish novelist, Stieg Larsson, died without ever seeing his books become an international phenomenon. Starting with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," his "Millennium" trilogy has topped bestseller lists around the world. At the time of his death in 2004, Larsson was working on a fourth book. That and the income from his first three are at the center of a heated debate between Larsson's family and his longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson. She says the books are a jigsaw puzzle of her life with Larsson.

  • 11:07:51

    MS. DIANE REHMGabrielsson has written her version of their story in a new memoir, it's titled, "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me." Eva Gabrielsson joins me in the studio. I look forward to hearing your questions and comments. Join us by phone, send us an email or a tweet or post a message on Facebook. Good morning to you, Eva. It's good to have you here.

  • 11:08:32

    MS. EVA GABRIELSSONGood morning. I'm happy to be here.

  • 11:08:35

    REHMThe press and the stories in Sweden and the world have been absolutely intense since Stieg Larsson's death. You feel that there is a huge part of this story that has not been told and you feel strongly it's time to tell it. What is the most important thing you want people to know?

  • 11:09:13

    GABRIELSSONMy memoir is a very personal memoir, but also, I think it has some universal importance. It's about grief, that's one of the reasons I wanted to write this. What happens to you when someone you've been living with for such a long time dies. What happens to you mentally, what happens to you physically and how do you get out of it, so that's part of it. That's a story that's seldom being told. I only found two really good books on the theme and they're actually American. It's Joan Didion's book and Joyce Carol Oates recently published "A Widow's Story."

  • 11:09:53

    GABRIELSSONAnd there are very, very few books on the subject, so that's one of the reasons for me to write this memoir. The other reason is with "Millennium," I -- being disinherited, I've never been able to talk to the readers of "Millennium," I've never been able to answer their questions. I've never been able to explain how "Millennium" came about to other authors and so on, so I wanted to make it very simple, showing that "Millennium" wasn't part of a sole great genius called Stieg Larsson, it wasn't part of his great imagination, it was part of our life, things in our lives that was used to create "Millennium," so that's the book.

  • 11:10:49

    REHMAnd I must say, in the book, you recount incidents with your life with Stieg Larsson that were taken and literally put into the trilogy. Take us back to how you and Stieg Larsson first met.

  • 11:11:11

    GABRIELSSONWe met in 1972 when we were 18 years old and I went to my first ever political meeting and it was against the Vietnam War. And Stieg was sort of the host. He was welcoming people into this hall where the meeting was taking place. He made it a different way than people normally did at the time. He was interested in who was coming. Who are you? Welcome. Why are you here? Tell me something about yourself. So he was very different in that case, a lot of social graces and genuine interest, so that's where we met.

  • 11:11:59

    REHMAnd did you immediately begin seeing one another or was there a little lapse in time?

  • 11:12:08

    GABRIELSSONNo. It -- after that chance meeting, it -- we began meeting each other regularly and he recruited me to the little group in his district of the town where -- he was actually leading that group. We happened to live in the same area. So we met regularly, at least once a week after that. And this grew. We fell in love during that process because we were quite alike as people and we were very fascinated by each other.

  • 11:12:44

    REHMTalk about how you were so alike.

  • 11:12:50

    GABRIELSSONThis curiosity to understand and this energy to change and this interest in the world that was more coming from within our personalities than being something that's on outside, like, this is the politically correct thing to do or this could advance my political career, if you wanted one, or this is where to be if you want to be somebody, so we were different to some others in that respect. We were there for personal reasons, for -- because we had a similar upbringing in the north of Sweden where you put people first.

  • 11:13:43

    REHMHow would you say you each felt about your own country, Sweden?

  • 11:13:52

    GABRIELSSONAt the time?

  • 11:13:53

    REHMYes.

  • 11:13:56

    GABRIELSSONAt the time, we were quite proud of Olof Palme's definite -- taking definite stand against the Vietnam War, but we also felt that the Swedish government at the time didn't do quite enough, relied too much on diplomacy to stop the war, so therefore the movement against the Vietnam War in Sweden grew. It was an enormous movement. There were 10 -- hundreds of thousands of people involved in that, so we were part of a huge movement, but I must say, that we were proud of our government as well.

  • 11:14:36

    REHMYou know, it's interesting because I think the "Millennium" trilogy gives those of us, the readers, a very different concept of Sweden, a country we've always thought of as kind and gentle and warm and loving and decent throughout. And within that trilogy, there's a very, very different picture painted and I wondered how that image grew for both of you of a different kind of Sweden?

  • 11:15:26

    GABRIELSSONSweden changed a lot after the 1970s, into the 1980s and '90's and so on, mainly because I think the global economy changed. Businesses started to move, first to southern Europe and then to Asia, so unemployment rose, we got the financial crisis', crisis in the construction sector, crisis in all levels, really.

  • 11:15:57

    GABRIELSSONAnd things started to happen. My own sister was away during the 1980s. She was living in London at the time and came back after eight years, in the beginning of 1990s, to stay in Sweden again and she didn't recognize the country.

  • 11:16:14

    REHMHow so?

  • 11:16:16

    GABRIELSSONIt had changed so much. The mentality had changed due to the employment sector, had changed the -- the focus was more on, for instance, the dotcom industries where you could make huge money in a very short time. Focus was also on making money on the stock market by buying and selling shares, fast-paced people were doing that to make money. You saw the Porsches on the streets of Stockholm, you saw -- I met art gallerists who sold huge paintings for enormous sums to clients who said they wanted something in this color to fit their new sofa (laugh).

  • 11:17:01

    GABRIELSSONThings like that. So gone was the old, working morale. The old get up in the morning, do a decent day's work, get a good education, work hard, became more and more focused on chance, almost like winning the lottery or winning this day's positive trade on the stock market or selling this hardly developed dotcom company to somebody who pay millions and millions for it and then you would move on to the next thing, so Sweden changed in mentality and in -- yeah, it changed people.

  • 11:17:42

    REHMAnd as Sweden changed, how did you and Stieg Larsson change?

  • 11:17:52

    GABRIELSSONI don't think we really changed our outlook on the world. Maybe because of our upbringing, we were firmly rooted in harsh, northern countryside where you rely on each other and each other's competence and you try to work together to survive, so that stayed.

  • 11:18:17

    REHMBut -- that stayed.

  • 11:18:18

    GABRIELSSONWe weren't affected by this new trends. Change your personality, change your ideas to be part of this year's fashions. We just continued. I think we were sustainable in that respect.

  • 11:18:32

    REHMEva Gabrielsson, she's an author, architect, political activist. Her new memoir details her more than 30 years with Swedish novelist, Stieg Larsson, "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me."

  • 11:20:04

    REHMAnd if you've just joined us, Eva Gabrielsson, the longtime partner of Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson, is with me. She's written her own memoir, it's titled "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me." And if you'd like to join us, 800-433-8850, send us your email to drshow@wamu.org, feel free to join us on Facebook or send us a tweet.

  • 11:20:49

    REHMJust before the break, we were talking about how Sweden changed during those years after Vietnam. The country became wealthier, people, individuals became wealthier, began focusing less on staunch morality, more on what I can acquire. How did that affect the thinking as you and Stieg Larsson lived together? How did that affect your thinking about your own country and how did it affect you personally?

  • 11:21:39

    GABRIELSSONChange came gradually. You know, it's like you put the frog in a pan of cold water and start heating it up and they are cooked to death because they don't understand. So these changes also came gradually, that's why it was an eye-opener when my sister came back and said, I don't recognize anything. It's the I, me and myself, that's the thinking of today. She couldn't accept this, either.

  • 11:22:08

    GABRIELSSONAnd it's like both business leaders and company owners and the politicians lost the grip of where we were going. It was just like we were floating along in a global economy trying to somehow avoid the worst cliffs or rocks and crash and we were sort of just drifting along. And in that drifting along, even more of this -- there's a vacuum where more of this, I can do for myself, but mainly not doing something solid, but trying to win the lottery or the stock market or something like that.

  • 11:22:58

    GABRIELSSONAnd in this process the, extreme rightwing started to grow in Sweden from the 1980s and onwards 'cause there was the political vacuum. And I think that was what Stieg mostly tried to focus on 'cause this was sort of a key factor showing that normal politicians had lost their grip. They couldn't give the answers and the discontent could take extreme forms and this was suddenly there in Sweden, to everyone's surprise. Stieg saw this very early on, so he made this his commitment in writing and thinking and researching from 1983 and onwards, when he started to work for the British magazine, Searchlight.

  • 11:23:50

    GABRIELSSONAnd that was a major change in our life 'cause that changed us personally. We had to be more guarded, we had to be more observant of things around us 'cause the threats started to come.

  • 11:24:05

    REHMWhy?

  • 11:24:11

    GABRIELSSONThe extreme right in Sweden compiled huge lists of enemies and these lists were taken by police in different house searches, when they were looking for people that committed murders and so on, so you found continuously updated lists of those during the 1990s with more and more names on them and Stieg's name was on it. And he was also threatened by it and -- by them and this went to trial and they were convicted in the beginning of the 1990s.

  • 11:24:49

    GABRIELSSONSo that changed our life dramatically. You have to focus on something that symbolizes the way that the society is sliding downhill and nobody's stopping them and the focus became, for us, the extreme rightwing.

  • 11:25:08

    REHMWhen Stieg Larsson began writing this, what became a trilogy and what could eventually become more than a trilogy, what were you thinking? What was he hoping for?

  • 11:25:34

    GABRIELSSONI was -- I would -- the writing of "Millennium" started off as just for fun and actually out of boredom. It started off when on our summer vacation in August, 2002, when Stieg had nothing to do and he was complaining and I said, there must be something you can do. Don't you have that text, for instance, that short text you had about an old gentleman who receives flowers? What's that about? And he said, I don't know. Who is he? I have no idea, he said. Who's sending the flowers? No idea. Well, find out. Let's...

  • 11:26:10

    REHMThink about it.

  • 11:26:11

    GABRIELSSONAnd that's how it actually started as -- and it went on like that as a hobby project to -- out of curiosity and to know and to build up an alternate world. And someplace within this process, there was also suddenly room to voice that disappointment with the development of Sweden. There was suddenly a place to say all the things that you wanted to say, which there was no room for any other journalist with a focus on the extreme right. In "Millennium," you could talk about other things, corruptions, scandals, abuse of political power or abuse of authority, abuse of women.

  • 11:26:59

    REHMOr abuse of women indeed.

  • 11:27:02

    GABRIELSSONWomen indeed, which was a subject that always was close to his heart, but he could never really expand on it, given that this extreme right focus took so much time. But he always said that the discrimination and violence against women and racism were two sides of the same coin, so he never really saw any -- he saw the same mechanisms and the same actions taken against these groups by people who -- well, were opposed to him.

  • 11:27:36

    REHMThe two of you were together for such a long period of time and many have wondered why you never married and there was a good reason. What was that reason?

  • 11:27:55

    GABRIELSSONThis was the reason, the choice to focus on the extreme right. That became a dangerous situation, not continuously every hour, every day, but it went up and down, but it never -- it never subsided completely. It's like you have a journalist who focuses on writing about the Mafia or writing about motorcycle gang. You can do that once, but try doing it for 20 years and more like Stieg did. Then you are in trouble, then you are -- people are searching for you, not just in Sweden, but in other countries as well, given that he was publishing his reports in an international magazine and written in English.

  • 11:28:45

    GABRIELSSONSo that became a problem. And given that the Swedish public records are extremely public, anyone can find any information. If we would have married, Stieg would have been listed as married in the public records and that means that you could find out his wife, that would be me, and where was the wife residing. As it was now, they could only find out that he was not married and he had a home address. But try going to that home address and there was no Stieg Larsson living there.

  • 11:29:17

    GABRIELSSONSo for a long time, the extreme right wing thought Stieg was gay. They matched him with all kinds of men on their internet sites, so the strategy worked. At least he could have his home secured and have a security for me and I could feel safe as well, whereas the workplace was, of course, not safe. He received threats there at the news agency. At least at one -- one time, people were waiting for him outside to beat him up and he was warned by someone that, don't go out there. Standing there and he looked out the window and sure enough, so.

  • 11:29:59

    GABRIELSSONHe got bullets in the mail, the regular mail at the news agency at different occasions. We got postcards from Swedish mercenaries in -- who were taking part in the civil war in Yugoslavia. We had threats by phone. We recorded them, we never answered the phone. We always had an answering machine, so that was the life from then and in the 1980s and so on. So I tried to keep him safe and he tried to keep me safe and it worked out because of this.

  • 11:30:39

    REHMUntil he died. Now, before we talk about the Swedish government's law regarding two persons who live together and have lived together for decades, tell me about the day Stieg Larsson died.

  • 11:31:09

    GABRIELSSONI wasn't there, that's the problem. I was three hours away by train on my then workplace and I suddenly -- we parted the night before. He was fine. I phoned him when I arrived around 11:30 in the night. He was fine. Twelve hours the next -- later on the next day, I get a phone call from his office saying that he had collapsed and I couldn't believe it. What do you mean collapsed? He was fine 12 hours ago. No, he's collapsed. So what do I do, I said. Well, you gotta come. It's serious, you gotta come.

  • 11:31:54

    GABRIELSSONSo I took the first possible train back to Stockholm and arrived around 6:30, 7:00 in the evening, was rushed in to a doctor who just bluntly said, I'm sorry, I have to inform you that your husband has died.

  • 11:32:17

    REHMHe said your husband.

  • 11:32:20

    GABRIELSSONYes. Well, Stieg had told them to call his wife 'cause he didn't collapse and lose consciousness. He came out of that. Continuously, he was fighting for his life, even though he had a massive heart attack. He should have died straight away, but he came out of it and he told them to call his wife. And he gave them even my phone number, so he was quite lucid at times.

  • 11:32:50

    GABRIELSSONAnd that's how it was and I couldn't -- I couldn't understand it. I remember just standing up and saying, no, it's not possible, I don't believe you. I couldn't take it in. It was -- and now later on I understood that this is a very normal reaction, reading, for instance, Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates, same reaction. It's -- yeah.

  • 11:33:15

    GABRIELSSONSo when they asked if I wanted to see him, I said, yes, I have to do that. And that was a right decision to do as well. Then I could see that he was dead, but I couldn't take it in still. Taking it in, really grasping it is a long, long process, so I'm glad I did that as well and I want to recommend people to do that.

  • 11:33:46

    REHMWas his father in that room with you as you saw Stieg lying dead?

  • 11:33:57

    GABRIELSSONYeah, I had to change train midways to go to Stockholm, so I thought, maybe this is that serious, so I called back to Stieg's office and said, how is he doing? And so they just said, you have to hurry, you have to hurry. And I thought, this is bad. I better call his father. And I couldn't get hold of his father, but I got hold of his co-habitant then who told me that Stieg's father was at the city library and -- well, in a town a thousand miles -- a thousand kilometers north doing some research on ancestry or something like that.

  • 11:34:37

    GABRIELSSONSo I told her that, I think you'd better come to Stockholm 'cause Stieg has collapsed and it seems to be serious. And then I got on the train to Stockholm, arrived there and got the news, phoned back to her at 7:30 or something and said that -- and she was happy. Oh, how are you doing? It's fine here. And I said, no, Stieg has died. And she couldn't believe it either, so I asked, where is Stieg's father? Well, he got on a plane, so -- just in case, so maybe. That's good, I said, I'll wait for him. And so I waited for him until 9:00 that evening or something like that when he arrived and I had to give him the bad news.

  • 11:35:18

    GABRIELSSONI said that, we'd better see Stieg together 'cause I can't do it alone and it's appropriate that we go in together. So he was present for part of the time when I was sitting there trying to take it in, but he left at some point. I don't remember when. I was...

  • 11:35:40

    REHMThe circumstances of how he died were just almost unbelievable.

  • 11:35:54

    GABRIELSSONWell, it's like being run over by a bus. Nobody believes that, either. In Stieg's case, I -- one of the things was his neglect to his health. He had started to gain some weight, excessive weight, but this particular day, the elevator wasn't functioning, so he had to walk up seven flights of stairs and that sort of was too much of a pressure on his heart, so that started the heart attack.

  • 11:36:31

    REHMWho was with him at the time when he walked up those seven flights of stairs?

  • 11:36:38

    GABRIELSSONI don't think nobody was with him. I don't think anyone walked up with him. He was coming to the office.

  • 11:36:44

    REHMBut then how did he get to the hospital?

  • 11:36:49

    GABRIELSSONOh, people at the office sort of took care of him. They saw him collapse when he came in and they immediately phoned an ambulance. And the hospital was only actually two blocks away, so it couldn't have been any closer. So he had all -- there was nothing wrong with the hospital or nothing wrong with the ambulance, nothing wrong with people's reactions to it, nothing at all. It's just that very few people survive a heart attack outside a hospital.

  • 11:37:20

    REHMWere you at all suspicious of that heart attack?

  • 11:37:25

    GABRIELSSONNo, never. Never ever. I heard speculations, but no.

  • 11:37:33

    REHMEva Gabrielsson, she is the longtime partner of Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson. Her new book "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson."

  • 11:40:04

    REHMAnd here's our first email from Kelly who says, "As someone who is in a long-term but unmarried relationship, I have worried about my legal rights should my partner die. I had a will written to protect him, but he hasn't gotten around to doing the same. Is this a conversation you ever had with Stieg?"

  • 11:40:40

    GABRIELSSONActually, no. We didn't own anything at all until he signed the contracts for the "Millennium" books. That made us about 50,000 euros. I don't how much that's in dollars, but a little less. And that was our first cash, really. Otherwise, we just own an apartment and we had really to nothing to write a will about. We did talk about it, but we were going to start a company together with the help of some other people. And in that company, we would -- we'd own it jointly and that would mean that we wouldn't need a will 'cause that would hold the money from the books, so to say.

  • 11:41:27

    REHMHere's another from Jeremy in Richfield, Ohio who says, "Mr. Larsson was extremely liberal politically and very involved in a lot of left-leaning issues, though I understand there were legal issues surrounding Mr. Larsson's will, it was not properly signed prior to his death. I've also read that Mr. Larsson's family was and is very opposed to his intentions written into his will, namely that most of his estate was to be given to the socialist party in Sweden. Is this true and is this part of the reason Ms. Gabrielsson has been nearly silenced by the family and others?"

  • 11:42:32

    GABRIELSSONThat's a lot of questions in one. The so-called will, he wrote that in 1977 when he was caught in traffic, at the same time he wrote a goodbye letter to me, which I think we'll come back to later on, and it's not signed. And at that time, he actually owned absolutely nothing.

  • 11:42:50

    REHMNothing.

  • 11:42:52

    GABRIELSSONSo given that, that will is -- well, I don't think you could say it's really up to date and even -- it's not even valid. It's considered to be just a letter, a letter of intent or something like that, so that makes it -- yeah.

  • 11:43:11

    REHMWas he very left-leaning? Did he intend if he made any money at all to donate it to the socialist party in Sweden?

  • 11:43:28

    GABRIELSSONAt the time, yes, in 1977, but the sum would've been maybe (laugh) not even $1,000, I'd say. Maybe $500 at the time. So that was at the time. As for now, I don't think so, no. We talked about what to do with the money. The first -- there was to be 10 books and the first three books were to be ours and actually, he decided that. He made it a priority of our life would finally sorta have the possibility to realize other projects, but the coming seven books would be donated to different charities and the first one would be in the magazine Expo which he founded in -- co-founded in 1995.

  • 11:44:11

    GABRIELSSONThe rest of it would partly go to, for instance, women's shelters and so on, but we never expected the huge success, you see. We expected maybe for ourselves something like 3 or 4 million Swedish kronas for the first three altogether. And maybe a million or two for each coming book, so that was the sums we were talking about.

  • 11:44:38

    REHMAnd then when the books were published and Stieg died, how did his father and his brother enter into the picture?

  • 11:44:56

    GABRIELSSONWell, I describe in my book what did happen 'cause my sister forced me to write this diary, this journal, every day 'cause she said if I don't do that, I'll forget everything, so I wrote down slavishly what happened without understanding anything, so I did write down what they -- how they came into the picture and what they said.

  • 11:45:20

    GABRIELSSONAnd the father said, I'm not going to inherit anything, you were his wife for all these years, so this is none of mine. And the brother said, well, that company that you were to set up, it must be -- not even said, he wrote it to me. It must be able to set that up as if you had been married so you could put the "Millennium" money in that, so that's no problem.

  • 11:45:48

    GABRIELSSONProblem was that I had to drop the estate. I enlisted a lawyer to drop the estate and that took a few months. And in that period, they had to look if there was a will or not and who would inherit and they just went by the law. There was no formal legal will, so they went by the law, meaning that the father would inherit. And since Stieg's mother was dead, the son would inherit her share, so to say. So that's how they became the inheritors.

  • 11:46:22

    REHMSo the letter of intention sent to you by Stieg's father, he reneged on?

  • 11:46:34

    GABRIELSSONBoth of them. The father said this -- he said this. He never wrote it, but he said it to more people than me, so everyone had an understanding of that.

  • 11:46:46

    REHMThat you would?

  • 11:46:46

    GABRIELSSONAnd the brother sent me an email, yeah, of the same. And they just -- that just vanished when the formal estate was -- the formal declaration on the estate was done and they could see that he would inherit and then something happened, but I didn't understand that at the time.

  • 11:47:01

    REHMDo you think they have no idea early on how much money would be involved and then in that three-month period, when you were drawing up papers with your lawyer, they realized the magnitude of what was at stake?

  • 11:47:26

    GABRIELSSONNo. Nobody could realize the magnitude of anything because no books had been published anywhere. The books had been -- the publishing rights had been sold to Scandinavia and to Germany, which is normal for Swedish crime novels. That is where they sell and very few sell other places. So "Millennium" had the normal route. The only difference was that the sums paid in advance were slightly higher than normal, so there was no inclination whatsoever that it would be a global mega success that it's been, so I don't think they knew that. Nobody knew. Nobody.

  • 11:48:13

    REHMBut now where does it stand?

  • 11:48:21

    GABRIELSSONThey didn't want to have meetings with me and my lawyer present for many, many years and they turned down all our proposals for me to manage the literary legacy, which is what I've been asking for since autumn 2005. But they agreed to finally have meetings with us a year ago and that turned out to be just two meetings in February and in March or April or something like that, 2010. And in June, they sent out a press statement and simultaneously an email to my lawyer saying that they broke off the talks and that's where it stands now. They...

  • 11:49:05

    REHMNo talks going on...

  • 11:49:08

    GABRIELSSONNo.

  • 11:49:08

    REHM...whatsoever?

  • 11:49:09

    GABRIELSSONNo. I think they are quite -- everyone seems to be quite pleased with the status quo, so to say.

  • 11:49:16

    REHMSo do you feel you will continue to fight or are you going to give up?

  • 11:49:29

    GABRIELSSONI haven't quite made up my mind yet, I must say. I still think it would've been a better business for everyone if I had been able to manage the literary rights 'cause I would have taken care of -- just as I've done with my book, taken care of to see that illustrations are right and not distorted, that the publishing houses are not doing some odd kinda marketing that shames the book, the content of the books and so on.

  • 11:49:59

    GABRIELSSONAnd it's hard work. It really takes time. I would've taken care of to see that films would have been okay and I actually did that kinda work for a play based on the first "Millennium" book for a Danish theater. The Swedish publisher and the Larsson family allowed me to be the manager of the literary legacy for that particular play in that particular theater house at that particular time, so I know what it's been. It's hard work and it's interesting.

  • 11:50:35

    REHMOf course.

  • 11:50:35

    GABRIELSSONBut it's doable.

  • 11:50:37

    REHMThere has been a great deal of talk about Stieg Larsson's laptop computer, which was taken to the offices of the magazine, Expo, and I presume are still in their possession, though I don't know that. I'm asking you, do you know where that laptop is?

  • 11:51:05

    GABRIELSSONNo, I don't. It's also the contact is protected by the Swedish Constitution, so it's a journalist's laptop, so it's kind of a legal hassle, just that. It's presumed that the fourth book is there, but everyone is talking about the fourth book as something completed. I know for sure that it's not completed. I know how far Stieg had gotten into that in late August, just two months before he died, so I estimate that he might've been written -- it might be around 200 pages, which means there's -- printed pages, which means there's 600 to go -- oh, 400 to go to reach the normal 600, so there's a lot of work to be done there.

  • 11:51:55

    GABRIELSSONBut I'm not sure it's right to be a ghost writer for any other writer, really, 'cause what kind of door do you open then. I'm not sure it's right. It must be every author's nightmare to know that the characters and the settings of their good heart and intent is just being used by somebody else to print more books. I'm not sure that's the right thing to do, so...

  • 11:52:25

    REHMHis father and brother have sought that computer, have they not?

  • 11:52:35

    GABRIELSSONI don't think so.

  • 11:52:37

    REHMThey don't want it?

  • 11:52:40

    GABRIELSSONYeah, they sought to find it. Yeah, they tried to divide the estate about a year after Stieg died. They came with a formal document for me that they wanted me to sign, meaning in exchange for the computer for the half -- Stieg's half of our home that they had inherited and I flat refused 'cause...

  • 11:53:04

    REHMYour apartment, the only apartment you had lived in.

  • 11:53:09

    GABRIELSSONYeah, yeah, so I refused that because it says something about -- I mean, if you read "Millennium," you can see Mikael Blomkvist's journalistic values and the way he protects his sources and all references to people who talk to him and that's exactly Stieg's attitude to journalism and this is how he worked. And on top of that, this is being protected by the Swedish constitution, the Freedom of the Press Act.

  • 11:53:40

    REHMSo just to be clear...

  • 11:53:42

    GABRIELSSONSo it was illegal. It was illegal to even suggest such an exchange.

  • 11:53:47

    REHMSo -- but just to be clear, they wanted to exchange their half of your apartment if you would give them the contents of that computer and you said, I will not do that?

  • 11:54:07

    GABRIELSSONYeah.

  • 11:54:08

    REHMHave they now given up rights to your computer?

  • 11:54:13

    GABRIELSSONWell, if...

  • 11:54:13

    REHMSorry, to your apartment?

  • 11:54:16

    GABRIELSSONThey -- yeah, well, they gave up. They said they wanted to give me the apartment early on, but it never happened. So I did get it back about three years after Stieg's death in late autumn 2007, so they finally signed it over to me, his half, just out of the blue.

  • 11:54:35

    REHMYou're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Eva, would you read for us the letter that Stieg wrote to you in 1977?

  • 11:54:49

    GABRIELSSONAbsolutely. "Stockholm, February the 9th, 1977. Eva, my love, it's over. One way or another, everything comes to an end. It's all over someday. That's perhaps one of the most fascinating truths we know about the entire universe. The stars die, the galaxies die, the planets die and people die, too. I've never been a believer, but the day I became interested in astronomy, I think I put aside all that was left of my fear of death and realized that in comparison to the universe, a human being, a single human being, me, is infinitely small. Well, I'm not writing this letter to deliver a profound religious or philosophical lecture, I'm writing it to tell you farewell.

  • 11:55:40

    GABRIELSSONI was just talking to you on the phone. I can still hear the sound of your voice. I imagine you before my eyes, a beautiful image, a lovely memory I will keep until the end. At this very moment, reading this letter, you know that I'm dead. There are things I want you to know. As I leave for Africa, I'm aware of what's waiting for me. Even the feeling that this trip could bring about my death, but it's something that I have to experience in spite of everything.

  • 11:56:11

    GABRIELSSONI wasn't born to sit in an armchair. I'm not like that. Correction, I wasn't like that. I'm not going to Africa just as a journalist, I'm going above all on a political mission and that's why I think that this trip might lead to my death."

  • 11:56:30

    REHMAnd that is the voice of Eva Gabrielsson reading from a letter Stieg Larsson sent to her in 1977. Somehow he had a premonition of early death, would you say?

  • 11:56:51

    GABRIELSSONNo, I wouldn't say so.

  • 11:56:53

    REHMYou wouldn't?

  • 11:56:54

    GABRIELSSONNo.

  • 11:56:57

    REHMI'm sorry for your loss, and I'm glad you've written this book. Thank you for being here.

  • 11:57:05

    GABRIELSSONThank you for having me.

  • 11:57:06

    REHMEva Gabrielsson, the book is titled "'There Are Things I Want You to Know' About Stieg Larsson and Me." Thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.

  • 11:57:21

    ANNOUNCER"The Diane Rehm Show" is produced by Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors, Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth and Sarah Ashworth. The engineer is Erin Stamper. Dorie Anisman answers the phones. Visit drshow.org for audio archives, transcripts, podcasts and CD sales. Call 202-885-1200 for more information.

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