Nordic Book Talk

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 24th August 2015
  • ScanHouseFront

    Nordic book talk at Scandinavia House – The Nordic Center in America. Some very special Nordic literary events in New York. We focus on two book lectures given by Nordic authors who we suggest you follow closely over the coming months, as there is going be a lot of talk about both.     The […]




    Nordic book talk at Scandinavia House – The Nordic Center in America. Some very special Nordic literary events in New York.

    We focus on two book lectures given by Nordic authors who we suggest you follow closely over the coming months, as there is going be a lot of talk about both.

     

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    The Girl in the Spider’s Web – Book talk with David Lagercrantz.

    Tuesday, September 15th, 6.30pm. Free

     

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    Hear Swedish journalist and best-selling author David Lagercrantz discuss the highly-anticipated The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Knopf Doubleday, 2015) – book four in the worldwide bestselling Millennium series of novels, which launched in the U.S. in 2008  – with Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Knopf Doubleday).

    In this adrenaline-charged thriller, genius hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist face a dangerous new threat and must again join forces. Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a trusted source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female super hacker–a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering.

    Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Lisbeth for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the duo who thrilled 80 million readers in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire (Knopf Doubleday, 2009)and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Knopf Doubleday, 2010) meet again in an extraordinary and uniquely of-the-moment thriller.

    Following the discussion, copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

    About the author

    David Lagercrantz studied philosophy and religion at university and subsequently attended the School of Journalism in Göteborg. After graduating, he worked as a crime reporter for Expressen, a national daily paper. He is now head of news and current affairs on Swedish Public Radio.

    Lagercrantz made his debut as an author in 1997 with the publication of Ultimate High (Discovery Books, 1999), the story of Göran Kropp, the Swedish adventurer who climbed Mount Everest using his own physical means and without any outside assistance. He followed with The Angels of Åmsele (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1998)about the triple murder he covered as a journalist a decade earlier. In 2000 Lagercrantz published A Swedish Genius (Albert Bonniers Förlag), a biography of inventor Håkan Lans and in 2005, he returned his attention to the Himalayas to write his first thriller, The Sky over Everest (Pirat).

    Lagercrantz is perhaps best known for working with Swedish football star Zlatan Ibrahimović on his critically acclaimed memoir, I Am Zlatan, which was published by Månpocket in 2011 and broke sales records in Sweden and throughout Europe. The book sold 500,000 hardcover copies in Sweden in less than two months and was later shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award and nominated for the August Prize in Sweden. To date, I Am Zlatan has been published in over 30 languages around the world and sold millions of copies.

    In 2009, Lagercrantz published The Fall of Man in Wilmslow (Forlaget Modtryk), a historical novel about the English mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing. The book was well received in Sweden and rights were sold to publishers in 15 countries. Knopf will publish the book in the U.S. in fall 2016.

     

    Rock, Paper, Scissors – Book talk with Naja Marie Aidt.

    Thursday, September 10th, 6.30pm. Free

     

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    Acclaimed Danish poet and writer Naja Marie Aidt discusses her long-awaited first novel Rock, Paper, Scissors (Open Letter Books, 2015) – a breathtaking page-turner and complex portrait of a man whose life slowly devolves into one of paranoia and jealousy – with ATLAS magazine editor Maria Marqvard Jensen.

    Rock, Paper, Scissors opens shortly after the death of Thomas and Jenny’s criminal father. While trying to fix a toaster that he left behind, Thomas discovers a secret, setting into motion a series of events leading to the dissolution of his life, and plunging him into a dark, shadowy underworld of violence and betrayal.

    A gripping story written with a poet’s sensibility and attention to language, Rock, Paper, Scissors showcases all of Aidt’s gifts and introduces a whole new audience to one of Denmark’s most decorated and beloved writers.

    Following the discussion, copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

    About the author

    Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Copenhagen. She is the author of ten collections of poetry and three short story collections, including Baboon (Two Lines Press, 2006), which received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize (2008) and the Danish Critics’ Prize for Literature (2007). Her books have been translated into nine languages. Rock, Paper, Scissors is her first novel.

    About the moderator

    Maria Marqvard Jensen holds a Masters in Language and Literature from Copenhagen University. She specializes in managing literary events in New York, most recently for the PEN World Voices Festival. She is the book editor for the Danish ATLAS magazine and her translation of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve was published in Denmark in December 2014 by ATLAS.

     

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    Nordic Book Club

    Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Nordic Book Club – ASF’s newest literary series. This season’s selections include Swedish crime thrillers, Danish contemporary fiction, and Finnish fantasy. Discussions typically take place the last Tuesday of the month in the Halldór Laxness Library at Scandinavia House and online at Scandinaviahouse.org 

    Tuesdays, 6 pm: September 29 & October 27, 2015
    Series continues fall 2015 & winter 2016
    Free | #nordicbookclub

    Head to Scandinaviahouse.org to find out about more Nordic events

    Text and photos courtesy of Scandinavia House.

     

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    Iceland Writers Retreat

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 21st August 2015
  • writers-retreat-2

    Nordophile has dedicated this week to Nordic literature. We have interviewed Sara Blaedel, featured The Nordic Literature Prize awards, asked questions to some of your favourite Nordic authors on our Twitter page and showcased some Nordic book fairs and festivals coming up later this year in some of the Nordic cities. To round of this […]




    Nordophile has dedicated this week to Nordic literature. We have interviewed Sara Blaedel, featured The Nordic Literature Prize awards, asked questions to some of your favourite Nordic authors on our Twitter page and showcased some Nordic book fairs and festivals coming up later this year in some of the Nordic cities.

    To round of this special week, we are bringing you Iceland Writers Retreat. For many writers a retreat is where it all begins, nurturing an idea, engaging with other writers and building the confidence to put pen to paper.

    Could you be funded to attend?

    The Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award has been funded to support one writer with outstanding potential to attend the Iceland Writers Retreat in Reykjavik, Iceland in April, 2016.

     

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    The Event

    The third annual Iceland Writers Retreat will feature small workshops and panels by renowned authors, focusing on the art and craft of writing. Through exclusive trips and talks by local writers, it will also introduce participants to Iceland’s rich literary tradition. Between sessions, we’ll offer you time to find inspiration and write in an unforgettable setting as well as show you some of Iceland’s natural and cultural sites.

     

    Workshops and Panels; Over the course of the retreat, each participant will be enrolled in a total of five small-group writing workshops (max.15 participants) led by internationally acclaimed authors, a Q&A panel with all faculty, and numerous readings and social functions.

     

    Where and When?

    The third annual Iceland Writers Retreat will take place in Reykjavik April 13 – 17, 2016.

     

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    The Founders

    ELIZA REID owns and operates a company specializing in event management and marketing communications. She is also a writer and editor and has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers in the UK, U.S., Iceland, and her native Canada. Eliza holds an honours BA in international relations from Trinity College at the University of Toronto and an MSt in modern history from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

    Eliza’s current and past projects include working as the editor for Icelandair’s inflight magazine, Icelandair Info; copy editor, writer, and marketing consultant for many of Iceland’s largest organizations; and project manager for successful international conferences in Reykjavik.

    Eliza has lived in Reykjavik, Iceland since 2003. She has travelled extensively and published about experiences as varied as almost being stranded in Timbuktu and dining with strangers in Uzbekistan. She lives with her husband and their four energetic young children.
    Visit her at www.elizareid.com.

     

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    ERICA JACOBS GREEN has worked in book publishing for nearly twenty years. A graduate of UC Berkeley with a BA in English, past highlights of Erica’s publishing career include positions as a children’s book editor at Chronicle Books, founder of Ever After Studios (a book production company), and Director of Publishing at Discovery Channel (Discovery Communications). As a freelance writer and editor, her articles and short stories have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and online. Erica has worked with award-winning authors and illustrators as well as an array of famed brands for children and adults: from Jane Goodall to Star Wars and Dr. Oz to Williams Sonoma.

    Today, Erica is a Senior Editor at National Geographic in the children’s book group. She also is the Co-Founder of the Iceland Writers Retreat and is at work on a novel. Originally from California, Erica spent eight years abroad as an American expat, including two years in Iceland. She recently moved back to Washington, DC where she now lives with her husband and two small children in a house full of traveler’s artifacts. http://ericajgreen.wordpress.com/

     

    Iceland Writers Retreat_at Cityhall_0. Image by Roman Gerasymenko

     

    So what actually happens at the retreat?

    TIME TO WRITE: We’ve dedicated blocks of time for writers to focus on writing. Participants can choose to stay in the quiet hotel or wander over to a café in town. We’ll provide a list of the best coffee shops and libraries for writing.

    EXCLUSIVE RECEPTIONS: Iceland wants to welcome you. We hope that, as in previous years, participants will be invited to cocktail receptions hosted by local embassies and Icelandic leaders, and will confirm details closer to the event.

    MUSIC, FOOD, & MORE: Late night offerings include a chance to hit the streets of Reykjavik to see live music, listen to readings by local writers, and dine at some of Reykjavik’s best eateries. And you’ll be well fed: IWR enrollment includes breakfast, three lunches and one dinner, plus coffee during breaks and cocktail receptions.

    [The Retreat] included many interesting activities outside of the workshops.” Heidi, Australia, 2015 participant

    “RELAX & WRITE” OPTIONAL EXTENSION: Once you’ve been inspired by Iceland and by the writing workshops, why not spend some additional, quieter time in Reykjavík to work on your writing and enjoy the continued company of some of your fellow writers? The optional “Relax & Write” two-day extension includes two additional nights’ accommodation. You have free time during the days to take additional tours, walk through town, shop for souvenirs, or write in a local café. The group will then gather in the evenings for dinner together. At the second dinner, we’ll have an open mike night where you’ll have an opportunity (if you wish) to share some of your own work with your fellow IWR participants.

     

    IWR_2015_062_©_Roman_Gerasymenko

    photo; RomanGerasymenko

     

    Why Iceland?

    Iceland has a rich literary tradition dating as far back as the nation’s settlement 1100 years ago. The country’s 12th and 13th century sagas — heroic tales of family feuds, adventures and heroism — are revered as both historical and literary works of art and have inspired modern tales from the Lord of the Rings to Wagner’s four operas, The Ring of the Nibelung.

    Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness, was recognized in the field of literature in 1955. The country publishes more books per capita than any other nation on Earth. And its capital, Reykjavik, is the world’s first non-native English speaking UNESCO City of Literature.

    While it has a strong literary tradition, Iceland’s natural attractions are justifiably world famous. Within just a short drive of the picturesque capital, you’ll find moss-covered lava fields, snow capped peaks, steaming geothermal fields, powerful glacial rivers, and photogenic waterfalls.

    A modern, safe, and friendly country, Iceland is an easy-to-reach destination. It is just a three-hour flight from the UK, and five hours from the East Coast of North America — and stopovers in the country are free for up to a week if you are travelling from one continent to the other with Icelandair.

     

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    To find out more information and watch videos from last year’s retreat visit IcelandWritersRetreat.com

    Information about funding IcelandwritersRetreat.tumblr.com

    Special thanks to Eliza Reid for allowing Nordophile to use their text and information.

     

     

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    Sara Blaedel – Interview

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 19th August 2015
  • Sara2

    Continuing our Nordic literature week, Nordophile has been speaking with the hugely successful Danish author, Sara Blaedel. Sara Blaedel’s interest in story, writing, and especially crime fiction was nurtured from a young age, long before Scandinavian crime fiction took the world by storm. Despite a struggle with dyslexia, books gave Sara a world in which to […]




    Continuing our Nordic literature week, Nordophile has been speaking with the hugely successful Danish author, Sara Blaedel.

    Sara Blaedel’s interest in story, writing, and especially crime fiction was nurtured from a young age, long before Scandinavian crime fiction took the world by storm.

    Despite a struggle with dyslexia, books gave Sara a world in which to escape when her introverted nature demanded an exit from the hustle and bustle of life.

    Publishing ultimately led Sara to journalism, and she covered a wide range of stories, from criminal trials to the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I. It was during this time—and while skiing in Norway—that Sara started brewing the ideas for her first novel. In 2004 Louise and Camilla were introduced in Grønt Støv (Green Dust), and Sara won the Danish Crime Academy’s debut prize.

    Sara’s writing process is intense and she swears, “I am absolutely not fun to be with. And therefore everyone is happiest if I get it over with somewhere else.” That somewhere else is a summer house with huge windows affording a panoramic view, white terrace furniture, and a gas barbecue. In this seemingly tranquil environment, Sara formulates her brutal literary murder mysteries.

     

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    Research also plays an important role in Sara’s writing process. She believes that the imagination has its best chance to thrive within the framework of reality. “I work tirelessly to learn all I can in order to create the settings.” So most of the geographical locations that constitute Louise Rick’s universe are imported from the real world. Her apartment is Sara’s old apartment in Copenhagen, and she frequents the same cafés that Sara does.

    An essential tool Sara uses for her research and preparation is a large whiteboard she’s named her “killing wall.” The killing wall is home to sketches of the story’s development, giving Sara the visual stimulation that best ignites her creativity. Sara also relies heavily on a host of experts who offer input and feedback on her novels. “I am so fortunate to have good helpers in those areas where I really need factual knowledge—whether in the Homicide Division, Forensics or Forensic Psychology.”

    Her hard work and determination have branded her the “Queen of Crime” in Denmark.

    Today, Sara lives north of Copenhagen with her family. She has always loved animals; she still enjoys horse riding and shares her home with her cat and Golden Retriever. When she isn’t busy committing brutal murders on the page, she is an ambassador with Save the Children and serves on the jury of a documentary film competition.

     

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    Interview

    Having two successful parents within acting and journalism, was there a reason that the pull to express yourself in writing rather than acting was greater?

    Actually neither occupied me to any great extent when I was a child. I was mainly interested in horses but it is clear that all the words that surrounded me in my childhood and all the drive towards artistic expression and the journalism had an influence on me. Both of my parents always told me stories. My upbringing was full of stories. Especially my mother used her imagination when making up the bedside stories that she told me. But it was only in my adult life, and through various roundabout ways that I found my own way back to storytelling and found the will to pass them on.

     

    Denmark seems to be a culture hub right now, have you always felt the support from Denmark within the arts?

    I have always felt an incredible support from my Danish readers, booksellers, people in publishing and journalists. In Denmark, luckily a lot of books are read, and support for writers both directly and indirectly is really good through public libraries etc.

     

    Nordic noir is a genre, which has become synonymous with the Nordics. You started writing crime novels before this explosion, what was your motivation to go down the crime route?

    An uncontrollable curiosity combined with a lively and murderous imagination made it natural for me to start writing crime fiction.

     

    What can we expect from your latest offering “The Forgotten Girls”?

    Hopefully an entertaining and touching although scary story that will engage the reader and make the reader feel that my characters make for good company.

     

    You’ve just come back from ThrillerFest in New York, can you tell us a bit about your experience there?

    It is always wonderful to meet your colleagues and people from the business. An event like this helps to widen your own horizon, because it is so exciting to hear about other people’s way of approaching writing, to hear what they think and to learn from their experiences.

     

    The Forgotten Girls

    We are very excited by the latest release “The Forgotten Girl’s” which has once again seen Sara Blaedel explode onto the crime fiction scene, regardless if it is Nordic Noir, crime sells, we know that but it takes a good writer to keep the reader committed to the end of the book. And this Danish literary artist does just that, time and time again.

    “In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed”.

     

    forgtottengirls

    Photos credited to: Steen Brogaard

    Sarablaedel.com

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    Nordic Council Literature Prize

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 17th August 2015
  • image_16_9_bigger (10)

    Nordophile will be watching very closely at The Nordic Council as they will yet again be recognising and bringing to our attention the Nordic talents in the Nordic literature world. This year the awards ceremony will take place in one of the Nordic’s synonymous cultural cities, Reykjavik.     With such a huge interest in Nordic genre books […]




    Nordophile will be watching very closely at The Nordic Council as they will yet again be recognising and bringing to our attention the Nordic talents in the Nordic literature world. This year the awards ceremony will take place in one of the Nordic’s synonymous cultural cities, Reykjavik.

     

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    With such a huge interest in Nordic genre books across the world, we throughly recommend you keeping up to date with these awards, its authors and recommendations.

    Reykjavik will be a fitting backdrop to the awards ceremony on the 26th October as it is a city with the title of UNESCO City of Literature, which has produced some great Nordic authors including…..

    Arnaldur Indriðason, Ólafur Gunnarsson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

     

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    Nordic Coun­cil Lit­er­a­ture Prize

    The prize has been awarded since 1962 for a work of imaginative literature written in one of the Nordic languages. This can be a novel, a play, a collection of poetry, short stories or essays that meet high literary and artistic standards. The intention of the prize is also to increase interest in the literature of neighbouring countries as well in Nordic cultural fellowship.

    To be taken into consideration works must have been published for the first time during the previous two years, or in the case of a language other than Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, during the last four years.

    The Literature Prize is awarded as a rule along with the other Nordic prizes in music, film and nature and environment at a special ceremony during the Nordic Council’s annual assembly, the Session, in the autumn.

    The prize is administered by the secretariat for the Swedish delegation to the Nordic Council which works out of the Swedish Parliament  and, like the other prizes, is worth DKK 350 000 (ca 47 000 Euro).

    2014 Winner -Kjell Westö

     

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    Cata Portin

    Finnish author Kjell Westö was the 2014 winner of the literature prize. It was his novel Mirage 38 which secured his accolade. Described by the awards council as being declared the winner because of “the evocative prose of which breathes life into a critical moment in Finland’s history – one that has links to the present day.”

    The award of 350,000 DKK was presented by the years previous winner Danish-Norwegian author Kim Leine, in Stockholm.

     

    2015 Nominees

    Denmark

    Pia Juul – Avuncular. Onkelagtige tekster

    Helle Helle – Hvis det er

     

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    Karolina Zapolska

     

    The Sami language area

    Niillas Holmberg – Amas amas amasmuvvat

     

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    Eetu Niininen

     

    Finland

    Peter Sandström – Transparente Blanche

    Hannu Raittila – Terminaali

     

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    Robert Seger

     

    Faroe Islands

    Sólrún Michelsen – Hinumegin er mars

     

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    Greenland

    Niviaq Korneliussen – HOMO sapienne

     

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    Jørgen Chemnitz

     

    Iceland

    Jón Kalman Stefánsson – Fiskarnir hafa enga fætur

    Þorsteinn frá Hamri – Skessukatlar

     

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    Norway

    Kristine Næss – Bare et menneske

    Jon Fosse – Trilogien: Andvake. Olavs draumar. Kveldsvævd

     

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    Finn Ståle Felberg

     

    Sweden

    Therese Bohman – Den andra kvinnan

    Bruno K. Öijer – Och natten viskade Annabel Lee

     

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    Sara Mac Key

     

    Åland

    Karin Erlandsson – Minkriket

     

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    Emilia Bergmark-Jiménez

     

    To find out more about these awards, the authors and their books, go to www.norden.org where you can also have a look at some of the other awards which The Nordic Council offer to other Nordic genres. 

    Norden.org has various prize awards which promote, recognise and reward Nordic talents.

    All photos supplied by Norden.org

     

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    Poet’s justice to Nordophile

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 30th July 2015
  • Donna-Sørensen

    A poet’s justice to Nordophile will be undertaken by Donna Sørensen who is taking over Nordophile’s Twitter this Friday 31st July – Monday 3rd Aug. Donna Sørensen is an English travel writer and poet, who has spent the last decade living in places as diverse as Canada, Ireland, France and Denmark. She’s lived in Copenhagen for 7 years and […]




    A poet’s justice to Nordophile will be undertaken by Donna Sørensen who is taking over Nordophile’s Twitter this Friday 31st July – Monday 3rd Aug.

    Donna Sørensen is an English travel writer and poet, who has spent the last decade living in places as diverse as Canada, Ireland, France and Denmark. She’s lived in Copenhagen for 7 years and writes about Denmark for a living, as Digital Content Manager at VisitDenmark. Her debut poetry collection, Dream Country, was published by New Island Books in 2013. Donna is the co-host of the weekly writing podcast Write for Your Life hosted on the 5by5 Network in the USA. Follow her on Twitter @theflyingpoet.

     

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    “I’ve moved around a lot this last decade and that’s inspired my début poetry collection, Dream Country (New Island Books 2013). I was born and raised in the UK, but I now live in Copenhagen with my Danish husband and my half-Viking, half-British children”.

     

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    Check out Donna’s tweets over the next few days where she’s going to introduce you to some new Nordic interests to watch out for! @Nordophile

     

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    Sarah Ward – Author

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 29th July 2015
  • Iceland1

    We’ve been speaking with fellow Nordophile Sarah Ward – author, Scandinavian crime literature judge and crime fiction blogger. Sarah Ward is very much at the heart of Nordic Noir in the UK through her blog, which has reviewed some of the most well-known and successful Nordic Noir literary offerings, as one of the judges alongside […]




    We’ve been speaking with fellow Nordophile Sarah Ward – author, Scandinavian crime literature judge and crime fiction blogger.

    Sarah Ward is very much at the heart of Nordic Noir in the UK through her blog, which has reviewed some of the most well-known and successful Nordic Noir literary offerings, as one of the judges alongside Barry Forshaw and Kat Hall for The Petrona Award for ‘Best Scandinavian Crime Novel‘ and she has recently found the time to sit down and pen her own novel, which although set in the UK most certainly has a noir aspect to it.

     

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    Do you consider yourself a Nordophile and completely embrace the whole culture or are you more specific to Nordic literature? 

    I’ve visited all the Nordic countries with the exception of Norway so I do consider myself a Nordophile. I’ve been to Iceland twice and am going later this year and again in 2016 so that’s the country I know the best. However, my main interest is reading in general and crime and thrillers, in particular, Therefore I’m particularly fascinated by the crime fiction that these countries produce.

     

    Out of all the Nordic countries where do you prefer to visit and learn about?

    The first country that I visited was Sweden, then Denmark and Finland and most recently Iceland. I’m always fascinated by the unknown and therefore I’d say that I want to go to Norway the most at the moment. In particular I’d like to visit the arctic circle. There’s something fascinating about the frozen landscape. I’d also like to visit the Sami region of Scandinavia.

     

    How did you first become interested in Scandinavian crime fiction?

    Henning Mankell was the first Scandinavian writer that I read and loved. It was in the late nineties and I devoured all his books. After that, I tried to find as many Scandinavian crime novels as I could. Early favourites were Arnaldur Indridason and Hakan Nesser.

     

    Your successful blog crimepieces.com reviews crime fiction books, particularly Scandinavian crime, how have you seen this genre grow over the last few years?

    In the 2000s, the genre exploded in the UK. I’ve never paid that much attention to the ‘hype’ in Scandinavian crime fiction. I enjoyed the Steig Larsson trilogy but I that think there are better books out there too. Reading for me, first and foremost, is a pleasurable activity. If a book grips me and I can’t put it down, I can forgive the writer most things. I read for entertainment, pleasure and for escapism. Of course, I also read with a critical eye. But I am first and foremost a reader not a critic. 

     

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    Another role which you have taken on is as one of the judges at the ‘The Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel’. How did Petrona come about and what part do you think the award plays within the Nordic Noir genre?

    The Petrona Award was set up in memory of one of the early bloggers, Maxine Clarke. She was a great reader of Scandinavian crime fiction and supported many of us bloggers when we first started. The award was the brainchild of Karen Meek from Eurocrime and she approached me along with Barry Forshaw and Kat Hall to judge the award. in the three years that it’s been running, we’ve seen the award go from strength to strength and it’s mentioned on the covers of a lot of the shortlisted books. We hope it celebrates the excellence of Scandinavian crime fiction, I think last year there were over forty eligible books. The shortlist was particularly strong and any of those novels could have won.

     

    This has been an extremely busy time for you this past month as you have just published your first crime novel ‘In Bitter Chill’ although it is not set in the Nordics, the ambiance seems to be quite Nordic, was this your intention?

    It wasn’t particularly my intention although the cold landscape has a strong role in my book. I certainly didn’t set out to copy Scandinavian crime fiction. But I think I’m influenced by everything I’ve ever read from Agatha Christie to Jo Nesbo.

     

    In Bitter Chill Royal HB 2Ec 2 small copy

     

    ‘In Bitter Chill’ has been well received, does this mean you have a second novel coming?

    I’ve just finished my second book which is also set in the Derbyshire landscape but this time in spring. It has the same police characters but a new central protagonist. I’m hoping to write a quartet set in the region. So, fingers crossed!

    www.petronaaward.co.uk

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    Finnish author – Markus Ahonen

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 15th July 2015
  • Markus1_mv

    Nordophile spoke with the Finnish author – Markus Ahonen about his success with Nordic noir and children’s books and found out how his passion for writing allows him to cross two of the most opposite genres, with ease. Markus was born in 1972 in Helsinki, Finland and grew up in Martinlaakso, a suburb of Vantaa, known as […]




    Nordophile spoke with the Finnish author – Markus Ahonen about his success with Nordic noir and children’s books and found out how his passion for writing allows him to cross two of the most opposite genres, with ease.

    Markus was born in 1972 in Helsinki, Finland and grew up in Martinlaakso, a suburb of Vantaa, known as the childhood residence of famous Formula One drivers Mika Häkkinen, Mika Salo and Kimi Räikkönen and heavy metal band Amorphis.

    Markus1_mv

    After spending a year as an exchange student in Upstate New York and studying Communications and Finnish Literature in Turku, he has worked extensively as Editor and Editor-in-chief in local newspapers, as TV Script Writer for Finnish versions of game show Weakest Link and the Finnish modified version from shows Never Mind the Buzzcocks and They Think It’s All Over as well as writing TV sketch comedy.

    After moving to Ireland in 2006, Markus has worked as a flying foreign correspondent having reported to newspapers and magazines from several dozen countries around Europe and elsewhere.
    His first crime novel Meduusa (Medusa) was awarded with third prize in Kouvola Crime Literature Festival 10th anniversary novel contest in 2006. The second crime-themed novel Palava sydän (Burning Heart) was published in 2008. Short story collection My Hometown Named Love was published as an e-book in English in March 2012 and in Finnish as Kotipaikkani on rakkaus in October the same year. The updated new versions of Meduusa and Palava sydän were published as e-books in Finnish in late 2012.

    Markus widened his literary career by publishing a story collection for children Karkaileva bussi ja kaiken maailman ihmeelliset vempeleet (Runaway Bus and All Other Marvelous Gadgets) as an e-book and the story collection for children and adults, Haikarasaaren vauvasatama ja muita tarinoita (Heron Island Baby Harbour and other stories) both in November 2012.
    In late 2012 and early 2013, Meduusa reached continuously the #1 spot in iTunes Finland e-book top100 chart.
    Meduusa and Palava sydän have both reached the #1 spot in iTunes Finland Mysteries and Thrillers top10 chart often holding #1 and #2 spots at the same time together.
    Meduusa was chosen to Apple iBookstore Best of 2012 catalog Top Fiction category in December 2012 and again year later into their Best of 2013 catalog. This time in the category: Most sold: Fiction. It is one of the most sold e-books ever in Apple iTunes Finland. Medusa was published in English as an e-book in August, 2013.
    In March 2013, Karkaileva bussi ja kaiken maailman ihmeelliset vempeleet reached #1 in iTunes Finland Children’s literature chart.

    Medusaengl

    By the end of 2013, Apple iTunes Finland selected Markus and his works into their Bestselling Authors category. The category consists of 14 authors, of whom 9 are non-Finns and 5 Finns. Authors in addition to Markus in the category are: Jo Nesbø, Reijo Mäki, Nora Roberts, Miika Nousiainen, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Cassandra Clare, Liza Marklund, Donna Leon, Eve Hietamies, Patricia Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Anna-Leena Härkönen.

    Jäljet (Tracks), the third novel in crime-themed Isaksson series was published as an e-book in Finnish in April 2014.

    Markus has been a member of Irish Writers’ Union since 2012.

    Markus, a film, book, music, exercise and general knowledge enthusiast, lives in Malahide, County Dublin, Ireland with his son.

    Karkaileva Bussi

     

    Interview

    Was it a conscious decision to become an author or have you always written, so it was a natural progression?

    I liked writing already as a child and remember having a writing flow at age 7. Somewhere around age 13 or 14, I realised I was observing people, how they behave, what kind of personalities they are. Even the passers-by or people sitting in the buses. I started writing these observations as texts inside my head. So I think it was partially constructed inside of me. Also because it apparently has run in the family. My late Dad wrote, as did my Grandpa, his sister, my Greatgrandpa…
    I was also probably just another shy boy, who was concentrating more in communicating through writing. One addition to that was that at the time I felt the surroundings I grew up were somewhat rough. Writing, and the silent aim in it I told no one about, were that the better I will some day get in writing, the more I will have something of my own. Something that couldn’t be taken away from me in those rough surroundings.
    Still, I ended up studying other things first in college, but I soon realised I couldn’t escape what was in my heart. I switched to study communications, then continued with literature studies in university. While doing a career in journalism, I started writing book scripts. It was time. Also after seeing all kinds of people’s lives while working as a security guard during my years in uni. It all prepared me for this work.

     

    Which authors do you think have genuinely inspired you?

    The big influence for me already at very young was Finnish author Matti Yrjänä Joensuu and his writings. His Harjunpää detective series with its unique, touching language and humane way to depict life realistically were a big inspiration to me. Still are.

    Inside the crime genre, I’ve also been a big fan of Swedish writers Sjöwall-Wahlöö and their Beck series. When wanting to read a superb, smart crime novel, I go back to the fourth Beck novel, The Laughing Policeman. Another great example of inspiring structure for a crime novel is Swedish Håkan Nesser’s Hour of the Wolf. Truly inspiring.

    Outside the genre for other writings, authors such as Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, Harri Sirola, Jukka Pakkanen, Leena Lander, Mark Twain and Astrid Lindgren have inspired me very much.

     

    You have been successful in Nordic Noir to Children’s books, do you get a different satisfaction from writing each genre?

    Yes, I do. I read various genres of books and the same goes with writing. If the inspiration comes, it doesn’t always circulate around crimes and murders. Though at some point one TV producer looked through my script ideas and concluded: ”scripts don’t always have to include a murder”. So some kind of an attraction to the crime genre has always been there. But I get inspired well by other forms of art like movies and music or books. When watching The Thief of Bagdad (the 1940 version), I’d love to write a great fantasy story for children. Or when I watch one of my favourite films Cinema Paradiso, I do get inspired writing a melancholic love story. Also a variety of music does bring pictures in the head, bringing it to the need to write in different genres.
    Surely life in itself brings inspirational content with its reality to get the creative machine working to whatever genre it may be. I’m also a big fan of short stories myself. I’d love to write more of them. Great form of writing. Satisfaction from writing comes fast.

     

    Can you tell us a bit about the #1 best seller – Medusa and its protagonist Markku Isaksson.

    Medusa tells a story about several, hazy, staged-like murders, which are committed in a short time in Helsinki region in Finland. In their last days, victims have ended up in the middle of strange events. As if someone had wanted to rip them from their last pieces of sanity.
    It goes back to Helsinki and also the surroundings I grew up in Vantaa. Somehow depicting the rough atmosphere in the past and also today’s tougher work life and pressures in the society, including violent behaviour, bullying, toughening work life, strained relations, mental illnesses… Senior Crime Constable Markku Isaksson, who has recently moved back from a small town to the rough suburb he grew up, is investigating a perfect murder game.
    Isaksson is a humane thinker, who has not given up his humanity because of his rough past when young and other obstacles in his life such as being a caretaker of his dying father in his young adulthood. He tries to understand the often sad circumstances leading to crimes for some weaker, very much pressured people. At the same time he can’t stand those people, who just use others as stepping stones. Going through rough childhood in a concrete suburb has not made him numb with feelings. Just the opposite, as he has fought heavily not to become cynical or become a bully himself. Therefore he is more receptive to different feelings, such as his hunger for love, all the way that he is somehow vulnerable with it. During the Isaksson series, he eventually falls madly in love with his level-headed, humane and intelligent female colleague Nina Markkanen, his apparent female counterpart.

    Because of Isaksson’s past, and quiet resilient nature, he tends to walk things over in his long walks. He often stays up overnight with his papers and board drawings. Just to see the connections in investigations connect in his mind when the sun rises in the morning.

     

    What can readers expect from you over the next year and will Jäljet be available in English?

    Among other scripts I’ve been working on for a longer while, I’m right now concentrating on finishing the next Isaksson novel. I’ve played a script lottery. After deciding upon two partially written Isaksson scripts to finish, just the other one starting flowing smoothly. So I switched to that one. Natural selection, I believe. There are some partially written and several planned ones in the series. Hoping to get the first version well finished in the coming months.
    Hoping that in addition to the English e-version of Medusa, also Isaksson #2 Palava sydän (Burning Heart) and Isaksson #3 Jäljet (Tracks) and the follow-ups would some time get published in English. I get constantly queries from readers about these. But it’s not always up to me. I’m open to talks. We’ll see.

     

    You have lived in Ireland since 2006, what do you miss most about Finland?

    Family and friends and the magical summer. Luckily I get to go there once or twice a year to meet them. Usually for a bit longer time during the summer.
    When the summer in Finland is good, there’s nothing like it in the world. The nature with all its scents. Lakes, sea… Finns being cheerful after unwrapping themselves after the dark and harsh winter.
    The summer nights with the midnight sun. It’s magical when you get up at 3am and see the sun coming up slowly behind the horizon already. The short dark moment of the night in the south is over.
    Although, I do get inspired also by the September evening autumn air. When still in Finland, that pushed the button for the creative machine. Usually with a slight tone of melancholy, when the summer is over.

    Markusireland.wix.com

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    H.C. Andersen Festivals

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 14th July 2015
  • hcafestivals_20

    Nordophile is excited to showcase H.C. Andersen Festivals in Odense which is a celebration of the everlasting imprint in literature, left by this Danish author. Hans Christian Andersen’s story is one of triumph and through a pure dedication to his given talent, H.C Andersen’s works continue to inspire and remain relevant to this day. With interpretations […]




    Nordophile is excited to showcase H.C. Andersen Festivals in Odense which is a celebration of the everlasting imprint in literature, left by this Danish author.

    Hans Christian Andersen’s story is one of triumph and through a pure dedication to his given talent, H.C Andersen’s works continue to inspire and remain relevant to this day. With interpretations through performing arts and street activities, this festival certainly promotes not only one of Denmarks most famous natives but also the support of the arts and culture here.

     

     

    hcafestivals_35

     

    H.C. Andersen Festivals takes place every year in week 34. During the festival, Odense city is buzzing with cultural activities such as concerts, theatre, 3D show and much more. All inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and his creative and inspiring universe. The festival has something to offer for all ages with its wide variety of cultural events.

    There will be traditional events such as guided tours, lectures and theatrical performances all set around Hans Christian Andersen and his universe. In addition, there will also be unexpected events and activities such as street art and performances, light shows, and many other modern interpretations of Hans Christian Andersen and his fairy tales. All of this will be taking place in and around downtown Odense.

    The festival’s goal is to promote Odense both nationally in Denmark and internationally through Hans Christian Andersen and his universe.

     

    hcafestivals_20

     

    Hans Christian Andersen’s universe can be described using words like adventure, fantasy, and wonder, but it is also much much more. You will be able to experience all of these things and more at the Hans Christian Andersen Festivals. The inspiration for events is mostly taken from Professor Johs. Nørregaard Frandsen from the H.C. Andersen Center, University of Southern Denmark. Nørregaard Frandsen has come up with seven words that will shape the events at the festival.

    Hans Christian Andersen’s fantasy world is without equal and has inspired many people’s creativity worldwide. The Hans Christian Andersen Festivals will reflect this. The festival will focus on innovation and quality with close cooperations between cultural institutions, educations, and existing festivals in Odense.

    The extra “S” in Hans Christian Andersen Festivals signifies our cooperation with other festivals also taking place in August.

     

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    Facts about the Hans Christian Andersen Festivals

    • The festival will be taking place on August 16th-23th..
    • The festival has been funded by a group of professionals for the next three years, 2013-2015. The new agreements are made for 2016 and 2017.
    • In addition to the business community of Odense, the festival is also supported by the Nordea Foundation, Odense Municipality, Region Southern Denmark, Developing Fyn and the generosity of other local funds, sponsors, and partners.
    • The festival is organized with a board and four professional committees. Both the board and committees are working voluntarily.
    • Each year the festival will be handing out awards.
    • The festival will consist of both free and paid admission events around the city.

    tirsdag_040

    hcafestivals.dk

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    Nordic Supernatural

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 13th July 2015
  • Saraochmats01_fotoMagnusLiamKarlsson

    Nordophile has noticed an engrossment in Nordic Supernatural recently and we wanted to look closer at the amalgamation of different genres within the Nordic category. Nordic Noir is a genre which has exploded into the homes of Nordophiles everywhere. Nordic murder and intrigue has gone global as a genre, but there has recently been an […]




    Nordophile has noticed an engrossment in Nordic Supernatural recently and we wanted to look closer at the amalgamation of different genres within the Nordic category.

    Nordic Noir is a genre which has exploded into the homes of Nordophiles everywhere. Nordic murder and intrigue has gone global as a genre, but there has recently been an interest for readers to find out what other genres Nordic authors are producing.

    With the rising obsession for dramas coming our way like Jordskott from Sweden which is both supernatural and mythical, we are now questioning which books can feed our Nordic passion if we don’t just want Noir.

     

     

    Nordophile is taken by two very talented writers, Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg from Sweden who have done just that. Teaming up they have co-wrote a supernatural, mythology trilogy from the depths of the Nordic heartland (Bergslagen, Sweden) to bring us not just your typical Nordic, dark, intense novel full of transgressions and subtle undertones of social malfunctions but this writing duo have expanded the subject and added the element of supernatural realism where this thread seems to run adjacent with everyday life. The writers have thought this through and not just taken the chance to just take a different path, because you get the feeling that this is a subject they believe in, one they want to filter through, making a natural impact. Nordic Supernatural looks like it’s slowly starting to work its way up with its counterparts and we expect much more of the coming months.

     

    Saraochmats01_fotoMagnusLiamKarlsson

     

    The Engelsfors Trilogy

    This trilogy contains the titles THE CIRCLE, FIRE and THE KEY. THE CIRCLE was published in April 2011 in Sweden, FIRE in April 2012 and the final part, THE KEY was published in Sweden autumn 2013.

     

    THE CIRCLE

    6 young girls who just started high school, and who have nothing in common, find out they are hunted by an ancient evil. Involuntarily they are all drawn to a meeting in the forest one late night when the moon is mysteriously red. They are told that they are witches. They are ‘The Chosen Ones’. From this day on, they must learn how to work together despite their differences and they have to master the forces that have awakened within them. Time is running out. Something is hunting them and if they don’t find it and defeat it, it will find them.

                                                  

    FIRE

    ‘The Chosen Ones’ ones are about to start their second year in senior high school. The whole summer break they have held their breaths waiting for the demons’ next move. But the threat shows up from another direction, somewhere they could never have foreseen. It becomes more and more obvious that something is very, very wrong in Engelsfors. The past is woven together with the present. The living meet the dead. The Chosen ones are tied even closer together and are once again reminded that magic cannot ease unhappy love or mend broken hearts.

                               

    THE KEY

    The final title in the trilogy is THE KEY.  The threads and paths are woven together, and the finale is fantastic as the girls and others involved manage to stop the apocalypse.

     

    The trilogy has gone global and the interest for The Circle has been huge from day one. The rights are now sold to 29 countries.

     

    cirklen

     

    Genre

    The books are written as crossover titles and aims for young adults and teenagers. But the way they are written they can easily be read by adults as well which from readership seems to be true, it appeals to a wide range audience. One big difference from other books in this genre of paranormal titles is that it’s not the story about pretty girl meets dangerous boy/man (ie vampire). Instead, the main characters are six strong and brave young girls struggling to find themselves and to do good.

     

    Publisher                                                                                             

    As soon as Rabén & Sjögren, one of Sweden’s leading publisher of children’s  and YA books,  laid eyes on the script they wanted to publish the trilogy, and invested big in the whole trilogy from day one with a first print run of 12 000 copies, which is very high for Sweden. As of today, the first book in the trilogy has sold 140 000 copies in Sweden alone.

     

    Film 

    The film rights for THE ENGELSFORS TRILOGY were sold to the new film production company RMV Film, owned and run by former ABBA-member Benny Andersson and his son Ludvig Andersson.  Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren both took an active part in the project. Sara B. Elfgren wrote the script together with director Levan Akin. The film aired in Sweden in February 2015 and July 8th 2015 it was released on dvd and blueray in Sweden.

     

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    Find out more worldofengelsfors.com

    Photos Magnus Liam Karlsson & Niklas Alexandersson.

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    Interview – Ragnar Jonasson

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 12th June 2015
  • iceland

    Nordophile spoke with one of the most talked about Nordic Noir authors right now, Ragnar Jonasson. His book Snowblind is released in the UK June 15th and before we read it, we wanted to understand how it all began.   Interview Snowblind is released in the UK this month. Tell us what we can expect from […]




    Nordophile spoke with one of the most talked about Nordic Noir authors right now, Ragnar Jonasson. His book Snowblind is released in the UK June 15th and before we read it, we wanted to understand how it all began.

     

    ragnar jonasson

    Interview

    Snowblind is released in the UK this month. Tell us what we can expect from the book?

    Snowblind is a crime novel set in the northernmost town in Iceland, Siglufjordur. A young policeman, Ari Thor, moves north for his first job, in the dead of winter when the sun cannot even be seen at all due to the high mountains and it snows more or less every day, sometimes so much that the only road into town is closed off. Siglufjordur is a very real place, where my father grew up, and it is a picture perfect village, but it does get very dark and cold in the winter. In the story, Ari Thor needs to adjust to the claustrophobic surroundings and the darkness while trying to investigate a death which he believes may be murder while his boss has a different view. It’s hard to say exactly what more to expect, but I am a big fan of the Golden Age of crime, as well as of modern Nordic Noir, so hopefully you might be able to spot a bit of each genre there.

     

    iceland

     

    Nordic Noir is a genre which is continually snowballing. What is it do you think that intrigues us so much about crime in the Nordic countries? 

    I think it has very much to do with the setting. The Nordic authors very often focus on the Nordic landscape and setting in their books, and are hopefully able to transport the reader to a new place, different and often slightly colder! Also, the Nordic countries have a reputation for being peaceful places, for example, we have very little crime in Iceland, and therefore the contrast is perhaps interesting.

     

    Ari Thor is the protagonist, did you build the story around him or did the character evolve with the story?

    I had written a short novel about Ari Thor before, where he was not a policeman at all, but just a young guy, a theology student, looking for his father. When I decided to write a crime series, starting with Snowblind, I wanted to use this character and build on the background I had created. The fact that he was young, a few years younger than me, also enabled me to be more comfortable writing about him.

    iceland

     

    What events have you got coming up?

    My next event is the Edinburgh International Book Festival where I will join Scottish writer Malcolm Mackay to talk about the international language of murder on August 19th.

    In September, I will be at Bloody Scotland in Stirling, joining Gunnar Staalesen and Johan Theorin to discuss Nordic Noir, on September 12th. Earlier that same day I will also take part in a conversation with Dr Kathryn Harkup to talk about the works of Agatha Christie.

    And in November, I’m taking part in Shetland Noir, which takes place in Shetland on November 13-15.

    Very much looking forward to all those events!

     

    iceland

    Contact; ragnar-jonasson.squarespace.com

    Photo credits; SigurdurAegisson & Sigurjon Sigurjonsson.

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