My name is Katarina Wilk, and I am 51 years old. I was born in Poland, but my family moved to Sweden when I was two years old. One of the reasons we moved was that my parents wanted to give us, their kids, an opportunity to have a better life than they had in their home country. I owe so much to my parents. My childhood was filled with so much joy and love, and I am so grateful to them for giving me the greatest gift of all: their belief in me.
When I was younger, I wanted to become a doctor like my grandparents or a writer. Unfortunately, I didn’t like studying that much, so I never went to medical school, but I wrote my first novel when I was 11 years old. Although it was never published, I remember my grandmother telling me that I had a talent for writing. My father always told me that if I wanted something really bad and worked for it, I would eventually succeed. And I did. I worked for it. But it took a very long time.
I wanted to help people in some way
For most of my career, I worked as an editor and journalist specializing in health, medicine and training. I really loved doing magazines, and I was good at it, but in the last few years, I really felt like I wanted to do something else — something I had dreamt about, something I needed to do. I wanted to write. I needed to write. And I wanted to help people in some way. I wanted to do the things I dreamt of when I was young before it was too late.
Everything changed the year I turned 50. My oldest son was scouted by a model scout on the streets when he was 15, and by the time he was 16, he was working at the top of the modeling industry, including being featured in The New York Times, making editorials for Italian Vogue and The Interview, walking the runways for Prada and Louis Vuitton, doing worldwide campaigns, and more. I traveled with him around the world, and this became the inspiration for my first book. I wrote a young adult novel about the fashion industry’s ups and downs and what social media can do to young people.
With my book, #walkwithme, I wanted to help young girls realize that looks are not that important. #walkwithme got published, and it was nominated for best YA-novel audio at the 2019 Storytel Awards. Unfortunately, it has not been translated in English yet, but I think that is just a matter of time. This was the start of it all. As I my writing grew in acclaim, I decided to quit my job as an editor and start to write full time. Finally, I decided to give myself some time off and do what I had always dreamt of. Even if that meant that my income was cut almost in half at the time, I just had to do it. I wanted to write a medical nonfiction book. And I eventually started to write Perimenopower.
The story behind Perimenopower is my own experience. I experienced some strange symptoms during my early 40s, and the docs wanted to diagnose me as burnt out or depressed. I developed severe insomnia and panic attacks out of nowhere. Something was going on in my body, and I was scared to death. I thought I was seriously ill. As I know my body so well and as I am so interested in medicine, I started to do my own research and refused to take antidepressants or sleeping pills. After a couple of years of research, I discovered what was wrong.
I was already perimenopausal, and if I couldn’t cope with or understand what was going on, how hard would it be for the average woman who doesn’t share my background or interest in medicine? I realized that I could do something for women all across the globe. I could help them with my knowledge. So I did. I wrote Perimenopower, a nonfiction book based on my experience and my research, and it was released in Swedish last September. In October, it was translated to English, and it is now available on Amazon.
It has been a great success in Sweden. I have been all over the media, but the most extraordinary thing happened when I got a call from a literary agent who was at the Frankfurt Book Fair and who I had been in contact with some years before. She mentioned that she’d noticed a recent trend in which nonfiction books seemed to be getting big hype all over the world and asked if I was interested to be signed and represented by their literary agency. I was totally surprised because in Sweden it is really, really hard to get signed by a literary agent as a new writer. They only sign authors who they really believe have an international future, and I had suddenly become one of them.
In three months the rights for Perimenopower were sold to Croatia, Lithuania, Finland and Russia, and more countries are on their way. It’s totally overwhelming to realise that women all around the world will read my book. Now I can share my knowledge not only with Swedish- and English-speaking women but also with Russian-speaking women.
My childhood dream of becoming a doctor or a writer has almost come true, as I have become a medical writer who can help women by combining my medical knowledge with my writing skills. And I can help women all around the world. It is never too late to follow your dreams. In fact, it is extremely important to move forward with your dreams, as this is the life you get. It is not a rehearsal. And if you really want something, just do it.
So what are my dreams now?
I am already working on them. Actually, I am writing my next nonfiction book right now, but I have also just finished a new fiction manuscript, in which my father actually plays a role.
And, I must admit that I still have one small dream left to fulfill: that one of my fiction manuscripts become a film or a series.