writer, podcaster, paddleboarder

Meet Regan

Meet Regan

American ex pat Regan moved to Stockholm to be with her Swedish boyfriend Anders after a whirlwind romance, and has been blogging about her adventures settling into Sweden.  Last week, her regular readers were startled when the blog took an unexpected turn: one of Anders’ close friends was found murdered, and the police quickly zeroed in on him as the chief suspect.

Regan doesn’t exist.  She never did.

I have been fascinated with the story of the radio drama of War of the Worlds produced by Orson Welles forever.  The story of alien invasion was presented in a series of radio news bulletins, leading many listeners to believe that martians had actually landed on earth.  I loved the idea of a fictional experience so vivid and authentic that people were able to step right into it, and have had an ambition to create my version of that ever since.  When Regan and Anders started to burrow their way into my brain, I realized I’d found the perfect story.

Regan’s early accounts of being an ex pat in Stockholm are extremely autobiographical: one of my friends only clicked that it was fiction when she realized how much of what happened to Regan had happened to me.  Getting trapped in the sliding doors at ICA  and having my credibility as a person questioned: happened to me.  Rescued by a kindly stranger who explained the number queue system in Sweden: happened to me.  Accused by a guy renting kayaks of being lonely: happened to me.  Felt screamingly lonely, frustrated and at times almost paranoid facing how difficult to read and reserved Swedes can be… happened to me.

I knew that many would click it was likely fiction when the murders started happening, and I’m fine with that: the idea isn’t about fooling people, but inviting them fully into a fictional world.  I won’t ever break the fourth wall on the blog itself, but will discuss it openly here and elsewhere.  I would love any feedback or questions about the concept or story, feel free to contact me here!

It has been thrilling and terrifying and awesome.  It is so rare for a fiction writer to have such an instant reaction – normally there are months or years between creation and presentation, so at times it’s been startling to be thinking up the next chapter while reading comments about the last.  I have been beyond thrilled at the amazing group of commenters – Anna, Zethro, Andy, Alexa, Joanna, Zest, Loulou, thegeekyg4mer, speccy, cindybruchman, to name a few –  who have been following Regan’s journey and advising her for months. I hold my breath every morning when I click publish waiting to hear from them.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I have no idea what will happen.  Will people lose interest if/when/now that they know it’s fiction?  Will the story be enough to intrigue them?  Will someone solve the mystery before I do?  (They already clicked something I’d planned as a big twist a while back!)  I don’t really have a specific end game in mind, other than getting to tell Regan’s story and hopefully people enjoying it.

Other than a 50 Shades-esque viral rampage throughout the internet, but that goes without saying. 😉

19 thoughts on “Meet Regan”

  • I was a little bit disappointed when I found Reagan was fiction but your story is so nice to read in the morning I can’t stop. When Hanna first disappeared in the story I googled for like 1 hour trying to find if it was real or fake haha, I ended up here.

    • I’m so sorry I’m not Regan! 😉 Thank you so much for continuing to read – I really appreciate it. Funnily enough I have been told by a few people that Swedish media would likely downplay or possibly even not report at all something like this until they knew more of what was going on. A few people have focused on that aspect in guessing it’s not real – and they are right! – but it would be possible for it to have happened and you still couldn’t find much on google, ironically enough!!

      Thanks again and I hope you stick with me!!

  • I stopped commenting a while back, even though I still looked forward to the new entry every morning, once the ‘murder’ happened I kinda figured the whole thing was fiction and was reluctant to put myself out there. I’m a little sad, I really loved the blog because I felt like I was going on a journey with Regan, it was a change from the everyday of my normal boring life. This last couple of days I have to be honest and say it was loosing it’s appeal just a little, mainly because I had made up my mind it was fiction. That said it was very good fiction, you made us believe and you make Regan believable and that is not an easy task. Many times reading the entires I would exclaim out loud on the train or stare at my tablet open mouthed, or gasp in total shock.
    You are still to be praised for your writing because it is excellent.
    Of course it changes things because it is now not real and people may feel a little cheated, to be honest I will probably keep reading, just don’t have her abducted by a spaceship next cos that would be a step to far lol

    • I’m feeling awful for not being Regan! She has a much more interesting life than I do – in fact last weekend, I was mooching around my neighbourhood doing nothing much on Sunday and I kept thinking of her doing the same thing waiting to hear from Anders.

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you reading and commenting so far, and I’m thrilled you have been enjoying it! I hope you stick with me – cross my heart no spaceships! Thanks again!

  • Ah you devious over the eyes wool puller! Now I have parallel blog hopped over here all has been revealed. I was just about to book return tickets to swoop in and rescue that poor, isolated woman. Don’t know what my wife would have made of that but she’s very altruistic 🙂
    And as a long time admirer of Agnetha Faltskog I was hoping you was going to lead me to Abba Girl’s own blog (I know exactly what my wife would have made of that), but you went and bumped her off. Just when I thought she was thawing a little.
    Of course I will continue reading-your posts have been the ones I have scrolled past all others for (sorry fantastic fellow bloggers) and the comments made have been just as entertaining. And yes, I recall a few by ‘Regan’ to add a little reality to things! Congratulations on what you have created-the Blair Witch of the blogging world! And don’t think that little comment passed me by unnoticed-‘ when the murders started’.
    Plural 🙂

    • Andy you don’t know how relieved I was when you popped up again having gone quiet when a few were mad it turned out to be fiction – I was gutted I’d lost you! Thanks so much – I’m thrilled at the brilliant comments, and am loving all your theories… one or two not too off the mark… 😉

      If it helps I have an actress friend here who is friends with ABBA and I’ve already warned her I won’t be responsible for my drooling/fainting/giggling hysterically if I ever meet them.

      And yes… the next one isn’t far off!

      • I had only gone quiet due to demands on my time-how dare life interfere with my reading and writing and blogging! Wow you know someone who knows the Abba members-I’ve found similar things before along the ‘friend of a friend’ line. How small the world actually is.
        So here is the deal- if I can come up with the killer(s) you will try and get me Agnetha’s address so I can regress to being a teenager again and send a psychophantic fan letter (my little girl has done a ‘Girl with the Golden Hair’ picture but I keep telling her it is unlikely to reach her). Moving quickly on, now we have shook on it, I am studiously re-reading all your posts..pressure is on….the address at stake…..have cancelled all conversations and interactions with my long suffering wife for the next forty eight hours 🙂
        Now, Jenny, Hannah, water…

        • How dare it indeed!

          I dunno, psycho-phantic, does have a ring to it 😉 I guess there should be some kind of prize for anyone who identifies the killer… apologize to your wife for me, please!

  • I wasn’t really mad when I found out that it was fiction so much as I was disappointed. I had been extremely intrigued by the interplay between an American and a Swede in a relationship, being in an Arab vs. American relationship myself. I censor my own blog-writing a lot in terms of my relationship because it is not fiction and blogs have a potential to be found by its real life characters, etc. But I liked watching someone else struggle with the same types of things that I struggle with and discussing issues of acclimation, etc.

    The change in theme from expat living/relationship to murder mystery was the disappointing bit. But as other have said, the writing is well done and the suspense is catchy. I’ll probably catch up on it every once in awhile, but I do admit that the charm that hooked me is tarnished by the fiction of it all, sadly.

    • Thanks for reading, and I’m glad that you enjoyed at least the early part! Regan’s ex pat experiences are inspired by my own, and for similar reasons to yours I would only be so honest in fiction. So if it helps at all, if it was real she probably would have censored too 😉

      Thanks again, and hope to see you sometime!

  • Glad to read the story behind it all. I will say though, I wish it was straightforward as fiction from the start. I’d have happily read and enjoyed it a lot more. But, when I read the blog because “Regan” commented on my own and I took pity on her (an American recently moved to Stockholm like myself) and then even tried to think of ways to help her back, I just felt betrayed at discovering the truth and went from pitying “Regan” to disliking whoever she was, assuming the blog started off as true, but turned to fiction when she got bored of her new life here or something.

    Knowing the whole story behind it is a lot better. You’re clearly a talented writer and I can understand the experiment of it all. But, you might as well go for it and write things with no veil! If you promoted it as such, I’d love to follow along more journeys that are so easily relatable to my own life… well, up until it got all murder-y. 😉

    • That’s for commenting Jamie, I really appreciate you taking the time. As I explained above, part of the concept of the project was to create a world that seemed totally authentic, and I stand by the choice I made, though see your point. Maybe I wouldn’t do it quite this way again – I’ll see!

      I think though, that the reason Regan’s journey resonated with a few readers was that, while I haven’t experienced literally what she went through – no murders that I know of! – my first few months here were tough emotionally, I went through the loneliness and not understanding people and feeling that they didn’t like me, and I put that in to Regan.

  • Hi, I received an email from you (I guess through Twitter?) and was intrigued by your intro to Regan’s story. I’ve only read as much as this post so far, but your experiment sounds interesting. I’m glad you came clean about Regan being fiction. I understand that you were experimenting, but I know some folks (myself included) who have been duped by bloggers pretending to be someone/something they are not and so we approach things like this with a hefty serving of caution. It’s a matter of trust since we have to take so much at face value in cyberspace. That said, I’ll look around. I like the idea of an interactive story; it seems like a blog would be perfect for that, and I know of writers who have done such things … invited readers to participated in their stories. Good luck with this 🙂

  • Ha! I started suspecting it was fake a couple of weeks ago. It was just too well written, too logical, too coherent, considering what the poor woman was going through.

    And that group of people… What a horrible bunch! 🙂

    • Well that’s the best reason I can think of for busting me 😉 – thanks! I don’t know, I think most of them were alright really, but perception changes everything…

Am I chatting total nonsense? Tell me what you think!

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