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.
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.
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.
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!
Photo credits; SigurdurAegisson & Sigurjon Sigurjonsson.