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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    Camilla Läckberg

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 11th June 2015
  • fjallbacka

    Last year I wrote about Nordic Noir author Camilla Läckberg and Fjällbacka in Sweden, where her books are set. Looking ahead to the summer, why not be inspired by this author, who writes so passionately about her characters and Fjällbacka. You can find more information below about the Fjällbacka tours.   Camilla Läckberg Camilla Läckberg […]




    Last year I wrote about Nordic Noir author Camilla Läckberg and Fjällbacka in Sweden, where her books are set.

    Looking ahead to the summer, why not be inspired by this author, who writes so passionately about her characters and Fjällbacka.

    You can find more information below about the Fjällbacka tours.

     

    Camilla Läckberg

    Camilla Läckberg is emerging as a woman to be reckoned with. In an until recently male dominated world of Nordic Noir writing, she is dominating the charts and award’s list.

    But what got her to this position of becoming a talented writer, a business woman and let’s face it, a glamorous powerhouse all at the same time? Designers are bending over backwards for her to be seen in their designs without any detriment to her integrity in the writing world. She is beautiful, successful and talented. Someone many of us aspire to emulate, in any one of her talents.

    Camilla Läckberg’s full name is Jean Edith Camilla Läckberg Eriksson and she hails from Fjällbacka, which is in the Västra Götaland County, Sweden.

    When we start at the beginning we realise that Camilla comes from a comfortable upbringing, in the sense of stable and safe. Growing up in a small village on the West coast of Sweden in a town which depicts the Swedish way of life.
    Not a lot happens in this fishing village to lead families into the abyss of scandal, danger or oddities. But in little Camilla’s mind at just 4 years old, the safety net of her habitat and family gave her the security and intrigue to play with a darker side into our everyday beliefs. At this tender age she wrote a story about Father Christmas, but with a twist of darkness and apparent violence. This story was short but it became clear that Camilla Läckberg’s mind worked anti clockwise when writing, enabling her to make the ordinary seem eerie, and the eerie seem ordinary.

     

    camilla-lackberg

    She had a natural gift, but this would take a further 20 plus years before someone else saw that in her.
    When her first husband and her parents bought her a place on a creative writing course she allowed herself to try something that she enjoyed doing, and which would allow her to move away from her economics career.

    Camilla graduated in Economics from Gothenberg University and followed this route of working within the field successfully, eventually moving to Stockholm to pursue her career.

    This was a far cry from her home village of Fjällbacka, and the ironic twist is that escaping this sleepy small village to move forward with her life and form a somewhat exciting career, would actually create a longing for Fjällbacka. These memories of Fjällbacka would give her the starting point for her stories, and become the backdrop of her novels. In turn this little known place would give her the exciting career she so deserved within the writing industry.

    Books

    Camilla Läckberg’s Nordic Noir crime books are building up pace with each release. From her debut book back in 2003 which was called The Ice Princess, to 2014’s release of Buried Angels. Camilla’s books and herself have grown in notoriety and respect, and the name Camilla Läckberg is slipping more easily off the tongue within conversations about Swedish writing greats around the world.

    Camilla’s books are very cleverly written as they give us the impression that Camilla’s mind must work in two separate halves along side each other whilst in sync, as most of the books have a juxtaposition story to tell with parallel stories intertwining, without confusion or elaborate ideals as not to seem far fetched. The books don’t have an underlining moral or social message they are as good a escapism crime read as you can get. They give the reader a great backdrop to the characters in the story, and keep us going with different perspectives of the characters way of thinking. This allows the reader to wander down the path of one conclusion only to find that is a dead end, which makes us turn on our heels and back track without frustration.

    The Ice Princess first introduces us to the main characters who will grow in terms of relationship and strength throughout this series.

    The normal crime fighting duo of detective young and old is altered from the start, this brings in a different dynamic of how cases can be solved, as we have a detective called Patrick Hedström crossing paths with a writer called Erica Falck.

    Erica Falck has returned to her home town of Fjällbacka as her parents have sadly passed away, and Erica has to sort things out. Whilst she is back in her home town she uses this time to finish writing the biography of Selma Lagerlöf, the first female Noble prize author of children’s novels.

    Whilst back home Erica is approached by the parents of her old childhood friend Alex. Alex has died from an apparent suicide but they are not convinced, and would like Erica to look into it.

    At the same time detective Patrick Hedström is investigating the death of Alex whose body was discovered in the bath, in frozen water.

    Erica working along side Detective Hedström brings the reader a different perspective of a crime being solved by a member of the public with no jurisdiction to investigate, but a personal reason to turn over stones, dig deep into people’s pasts and ask the questions that need answering. Erica is on a mission, but this small fishing town is holding on to its secrets.

    The Preacher follows on in the series, with the second book again starting from the point of a body being found. This time by a 6 year old boy who has wandered off. In the first few pages the scene is set and the intrigue mounts immediately as the readers feel as though they are looking down on this crime scene.

    The relationships between detectives is outlined for us, with inner thoughts narrated and methodical research has clearly been done so the reader understands the various sections needed at a crime scene, without feeling you are being bombarded with a lesson in forensics.

    Within pages we are rewound back to the summer of 1979 without any confusion, and these parallels continue to run alongside each other in the story.

    The relationship between Patrick and Erica has grown, in every sense of the word as a baby is on the way, and this gives another personal side to Patrick and how he views his cases and his motivations to right the wrongs in the small town of Fjällbacka.

    Setting

    We are spoilt with the descriptive narratives in the books. We are given a vision of a bustling fishing in the sense of people working hard to sustain this way of life and embrace a quieter normality.

    Of rocky shorelines looking out to the fjords, to white houses peaked with red roofs, and greenery sprouting up in between and beyond. Tranquility and at one with nature is how we greet this village which sits just 90 minutes North of Gothenburg. Fjällbacka is now because of Camilla Läckberg on the tourist map when people are looking for destinations in Sweden.

     

    fjallbacka

    You can of course follow in the footsteps of the crimes from the books with tours offered, and retrace with book in hand the places which come up in the books time and time again. But this is not the only thing that will keep you exploring Fjällbacka, you can experience the daily work of the fishermen going out in their trawlers, heading into amazing scenery to catch their fresh lobster, which are brought back to shore and prepared at one of the many restaurants offering this fresh delight.

    Kayaking through the archipelago is one of the many sports on offer which are only possible due to the landscape which holds this village. Walking on and off the beaten track gives you a sense of being away from it all but without being lost or isolated.

    The pure air, blue waters and green surroundings on offer are a good a reason as any for Camilla to set her books here. Usually once a place is put on the map via a successful author the serenity can be diluted, but somehow Fjällbacka has managed to keep its charm whilst opening itself up as a magnificent backdrop to the award winning mysteries.

    Awards

    Camilla Läckberg must have a feature cabinet in her house so grand that it must be a focal point of her surroundings. She has had nominations and awards spanning over 10 years from every literary circle, writers guild and fashion magazine that you can think of, and then the rest.

    Here are just a few…..

    • 2005 Camilla was awarded the crime Novel of the year for The Stonecutter.
    • 2005 The SKTF awarded Camilla a prize for author of the Year.
    • 2006 she won the People’s Literature award.
    • 2010 & 2011 Europe’s best selling author.
    • 2012 Best woman from Expressen.
    • 2012 Best dressed from Elle.
    • 2013 Nominated for Petronapriset, Crime festival in Bristol.

    And with her 2014 book ‘The Lion Tamer’ set to be published in September we can predict that many more awards are heading the way of this multi-tasking successful crime writer.

    More than a Crime writer

    So is this where Camilla Läckberg begins and ends? In the fascinating world of Nordic Noir?

    Spending her nights at her desk with crime scenes, police procedures and inter winding case studies feverishly going around in her head.
    Taking a simple Swedish fishing village where she grew up and has happy memories from, and making it into an eerie place below the surface.
    Where the ordinary is not as it seems.

    A genre dominated by male writers which has so far headed many awards lists, has had the pleasure of watching Camilla grow and emerge as a force to be reckoned within Nordic Noir.

    But no this is not where she ends, as Camilla Läckberg is a respected business woman who realised that her talent for writing could cross genres to the very opposite of crime, children’s books.

    The character Super Charlie was a concept born whilst Camilla was pregnant with her third child. When the younger siblings started asking questions about what was inside mummy’s tummy, Camilla’s writer imagination kicked in and Super Charlie a baby with special powers was born. Closely followed by her son Charlie Mellin.

    How can we add to this talented women’s list? Simple a couple of cook books.

    Camilla teamed up with an old school friend from Fjällbacka, Christian Hellber. Christian was one of Sweden’s top chefs and Camilla one of Sweden’s top authors. This powerhouse of a duo from a small village called Fjällbacka created the idea of a cookbook with recipes from their home town which produces some of the finest and fresh produce in the region.

    TV adaptations of Camilla’s books became a reality in 2007 and followed in 2012 with episodes made especially for television called ‘The Fjällbacka Murders’. Patrick Hedström played by Richard Ulfsäter and Erica Falck played by Claudia Galli Concha.

     

    Richard_Ulfsäter

    June 28th 2013 we welcomed the cinema premiere of ‘The Hidden Child’ based on Camilla’s books.

    Camilla is also joint owner of the silver company ‘Sahara Silver’ which she also fits around running her music company ‘One Spoon Music’ with music producer and song writer Pelle Nylén.

    Camilla Läckberg also spends precious time as the ambassador for the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, having three children of her own she puts her responsibilities of being a mum above everything and is passionate about this cause.

    The most amazing thing to recognise about Camilla Läckberg is not just the many business ventures that she spends her time working on, it is the fact that not one of them is compromised by time, effort or success because of another.

    Each venture is done to Camilla Läckberg’s best ability with 100% being given. She truly knows how to multi-task with her talents, creating an empire which is both respected and honoured.

     

    Photo credits: Camilla Läckberg, Fjällbacka von oben, Richard Ulfsäter

    www.camillalackberg.com

    http://fjallbackainfo.com/camilla-lackberg-murder-mystery-tour/

    www.nordicstylemag.com

     

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    Arne Dahl

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 4th June 2015
  • arne-dahl

    Arne Dahl Arne Dahl has just been announced as one of the Nordic Noir authors to attend Bloody Scotland in September. I looked a bit closer last year at the author whose had phenomenal success with his books and TV series. Arne Dahl is the pen name for Jan Arnald. Born in 1963 in the […]




    Arne Dahl

    Arne Dahl has just been announced as one of the Nordic Noir authors to attend Bloody Scotland in September. I looked a bit closer last year at the author whose had phenomenal success with his books and TV series.

    Arne Dahl is the pen name for Jan Arnald. Born in 1963 in the now notorious crime writing central of Sweden.

    Arne Dahl (as his millions of fans are comfortable knowing him as) is certainly loyal to his literary talents as he seems to be constantly on the other end of a pen, whether writing for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter or forming his next novel in the Intercrime series.

    Many writers have said that the success of a novel is not just about how well you write it but about how well you get it out there to the public. The fans want a tangible writer who they can put a face to and interpret a personality that they would like to know.

    Arne Dahl certainly does just that as his passion and interest in the literary arts is second to none.

    With an abundance of book readings and attendance at celebrations of authors Arne Dahl is closing the gap between the writer and the reader.This is an author who is dedicated to the arts, he is both happy to answer questions and meet the people who welcome him and are intrigued by him. They want to see who can top the best seller lists, sell over 2.5 million books and help put the words into a TV series where the characters come to life and are interesting enough for each and everyone to be seen as the lead role.

    Arne is a pioneer of the Nordic crime genre and this statement was recognised in 2007 when he was awarded by the Swedish academy of Crime Writers a special prize for his “vitalisation and development of the crime writing genre through his Intercrime series”.

    This further is accredited through his work there after throughout Europe and America and the world.

    When an author creates a series of books which the readers become warmed to, they want to know not only what happens to the characters and how they evolve from book to book but they want to know what makes the author tick and how their career evolves. They want to be part of the ride and not all authors are comfortable in allowing this, so this is the niche which Arne excels with. He very much demonstrates that to become an author you must embrace the art as a whole and to embrace the art as a whole you must study, promote and encourage, this in turn makes you an author of the people.

    The Intercrime series shows just this as the first novel in the series was released in 1999 and 15 years later it is as current and on trend now as it could be. Jan Arnald had a vision of what Nordic Noir should and could be, Arne Dahl took that forward.

    arne-dahl

    The Intercrime series

    This series of books is made up of 10 novels and is based around a group of 7 people who have all come from different areas of the police force, different areas of society and are working towards a different point in their life which becomes pivotal.

    The first book is called The Blinded Man.

    The characters are put together when cases they have been working on or departments they have been working in have been failing. There is also a sense that they have all come to a cross roads in their lives when they need this new department as much as it needs them.

    The department is headed by the once Jan Olov-Hultin who is now known as Jenny Hultin. This is an interesting starting point for the books and TV series as there is no underlying message or point to prove, just that these books are about as real as you can get and real life is played out for us in a gritty and true way.

    Jenny Hultin really holds the team together and is the one who orchestrated getting Paul Hjelm into it.

    Paul Hjelm is first introduced to us upon entering a stand off situation with a Albanian immigrant looking at being deported out of Sweden, the man is holding the immigration worker’s hostage and Paul goes rushing in, unaided and unarmed with a seemingly spare of the moment plan to distract the perpetrator long enough for him to be shot and disarmed.

    Paul Hjelm seems to be a man at a turning point in his career who has become disillusioned with the system in which he works and the state of affairs around him.

    He knows the rules inside out but is in danger of going off track as a lone ranger if not reined in.

    Jenny Hultin saves him from being suspended by giving him the last chance saloon down in the inter crime section.

    The team from these two strong characters branches off to interesting personalities and background stories.

    Kerstin Holm is a pretty but strong young police officer who certainly stands her own, she has obviously had to prove herself to get where she is as she gives off a very tough exterior, which we later learn is actually more to do with personal reasons rather than professional struggles. She is subduing past demons and secrets which have moulded her. There is an instant attraction from Paul Hjelm as he notices and respects her from the side lines which we see play itself out naturally over the coming books this brings into the story lines his struggle between his loyalty at home to his wife and two children and his feeling of breaking out of the rut he has slowly fallen into with life over the past years.

    Arto Söderstedt is a Finnish multilingual officer who is intellectually above the everyday man, but he seems to thrive on the craziness which surrounds him in a methodical way, not least by numbering his vast amount of children in numerical order.

    Stark contrast to Arto is the small Chilean Swede, Jorge Chavez. Jorge is the light harmful release in the team who is always on the look out for miss right and has a passionate stance on most things. Jorge is wary of Paul Hjelm at the beginning because of the perception that a racist view was the reason Paul came down so heavy handed with the immigrant hostage situation.

    This over time is ironed out but the friction between them is evident until they can both prove themselves to each other.

    The somewhat cartoon looking character Gunnar Nyberg is huge in stature and muscular built, but the biggest weight he carries with him is his guilt from beating his wife and subsequently losing his family because of this. His daily struggle with drink is apparent but we quickly learn that Gunnar so desperately wants to keep on the right path, we often see him singing within the church choir and finding a solace friendship with Kerstein Holm.

    The team is rounded off with Viggo Norlander, a veteran officer who is treading very close to the line of retirement, not purely because of age but because of stamina and substance. Viggo has been written off by many but Jenny Hultin believes in him and throws him a lifeline. Viggo nearly hangs himself with that lifeline when he makes a school boy error when chasing the baddies but manages to fly back to Sweden alive only with his head held a bit lower.

    The Blinded Man which takes us on a journey of catching a serial killer who is taking out high ranking business men is very cleverly written in a way which introduces us to a very convincing motive from the Estonian Russian Mafia and digs deep into this underworld belly of crime, power and devastation. We are taken to a point where we think there is no return until at the last minute we realise we have been taken down the wrong path, but this does not seem frustrating to the reader as it feels like we had to know what we were shown as it not only added more intrigue to the story but it allowed us to get to know the characters better as they dealt with this highly organised crime fraction.

    The titles include Bad Blood, A Midsummers night’s dream, Hidden numbers and Eye in the Sky.

    In series one on our screens we were treated to the first 5 novels so naturally the second series will come from the last 5.

    Book or TV the Arne Dahl series has become a cult and mainstream hit, if that’s possible and has catapulted the actors into the wonderful realm of Nordic Noir acting. Story lines to get their teeth into and allowing their acting skills to be paraded week in with every emotion being played out.

    photo credit Sarah Arnald

    Article from NordicStyleMag

     

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    The New Nordic

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 2nd June 2015
  • The New Nordic Cover

    For any Nordophile wanting to recreate some inspiring Scandinavian dishes at home, we have found this amazing book to help you on your way! The New Nordic is an overdue appreciation of the rich food histories and ancient cultures of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. This contemporary cuisine mirrors its landscape: raw, subtle, grounded, […]




    For any Nordophile wanting to recreate some inspiring Scandinavian dishes at home, we have found this amazing book to help you on your way!

    The New Nordic is an overdue appreciation of the rich food histories and ancient cultures of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. This contemporary cuisine mirrors its landscape: raw, subtle, grounded, just like the vast treeless plains of Iceland or the rocky outcrops of the many archipelagos scattered around the coasts. The beauty of the region doesn’t tend to stop you in your tracks; but it will always make you look twice. It will creep up on you until you truly appreciate its harmony and subtle complexity, just like its cuisine.

    The New Nordic Cover

    Chef, food stylist and photographer, Simon Bajada celebrates this constantly evolving cuisine by using traditional Scandinavian ingredients and preparing them in contemporary ways. The flavours are earthy, clean and subtle, often with soft contrasts of sweet and sour.

    Split into eight chapters that each celebrate a different set of traditional Scandinavian ingredients found ‘from the forest’, ‘from the sea’, ‘from the land’, and ‘in the larder’, along with a basics chapter that demystifies the process of smoking food and other classic Scandinavian cooking techniques such as pickling.

    Recipes concentrate on modern, everyday dishes that use the freshest of ingredients and are simple to create. Indulge in Beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese and minted pea relish or enjoy the simplicity of Fresh radishes with fennel butter and honey; move on to grander feasts such as Flaked salmon burgers with mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and fresh horseradish or Whole flounder with Nordic bread salad, Spiced beef with cauliflower steaks, honey parsnips and rocket; and not forgetting the classics such as Swedish meatballs, Danish smorrebrod, Gravlax cured with Juniper & mustard seeds, and gooey Cinnamon buns.

    With a glossary explaining substitutes and hard-to-find ingredients, The New Nordic, gives you an understanding of the food and cooking techniques enjoyed across the region so that you can bring a little Nordic style into your own kitchen.

    With Simon’s stunning Scandinavian photography throughout, including imagery of landscapes, nature and produce shot on location, The New Nordic is a feast for all the senses.

    About the Author:

    Simon Bajada

    Simon Bajada is a chef, food stylist and photographer. After 10 years working in the hospitality industry Simon turned his hand to food styling where he has contributed to 15 cookbooks. He recently moved to Sweden with his wife and 2 sons, where he has nurtured his love for food and lifestyle photography. Simon regularly photographs for Swedish Gourmet, Monocle, Australian Gourmet Traveller, SBS Feast, Scanorama, American Travel & Leisure, Plaza and Harrods Magazine. The New Nordic is Simon’s first authored cookbook and the perfect pairing of his culinary and creative passions.

    Find out more about Simon Bajada on his website Simonbajada.com and view the photos on Instagram.

    The book is published by www.hardiegrant.com.au/

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    The Legacy II Review

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 21st May 2015
  • The Legacy II - nordophile.com

    After the huge success of The Legacy on British TV, we are all waiting for the very much anticipated The Legacy II to hit our screens. Cinema Scandinavia’s writer Frederik Bove was lucky enough to see it on Danish already and has written a full review on Cinema Scandinavia. If you’re Nordophile into your Nordic dramas, […]




    After the huge success of The Legacy on British TV, we are all waiting for the very much anticipated The Legacy II to hit our screens.

    Cinema Scandinavia’s writer Frederik Bove was lucky enough to see it on Danish already and has written a full review on Cinema Scandinavia. If you’re Nordophile into your Nordic dramas, like myself who was hooked on series one, here is a sneak peek at the review. Cinema Scandinavia is a great source for any Nordic film and TV fan, to see what’s showing over in the Nordic countries. They also review some of the most diverse Nordic films and tell you which film festivals you can see Nordic films at.

    legacy2 (1)

    Review

    Maintaining quality in a tv-show about a family is tough to do. Because, while we all know that families can be filled with conflicts and drama, those conflicts don’t lend itself to the structure of televisual storytelling with conflict->resolution->repeat. Family conflicts stay unresolved for years or decades, which makes for less than great television. That is why The Sopranos had the mafia-stories, or Six Feet Under had the undertaker firm. In its first season, The Legacy had a great plot generator, as the death of matriarch Veronika Grønnegård, and the ensuing squabbles about inheritance, forced every secret and every dormant conflict into the light of day. But that story couldn’t even last one whole season, as most of it was resolved in episode seven, leaving three more episodes which all of a sudden felt less coherent and more like soap opera.

    This is also where we find the show at the start of season two. The season finds all of the characters off in their own little story. Eldest daughter Gro (Trine Dyrholm) is making fake artworks and presenting them as lost works of Veronika, but gets into trouble when a piece creates too much interest. Eldest son Frederik (Carsten Bjørklund) has moved into a new house, but the marriage issues that surfaced last season remain unresolved. Youngest daughter Signe Larsen (Marie Bach Hansen), who only learned who her mother really was last season, is trying to turn the family’s old estate into a hemp farm, and is getting back into the dating world after the breakup with her boyfriend last season. Gro’s father Thomas (Jesper Christensen) has a new family with their own problems. And, soapiest of all, youngest son Emil (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) remains in a prison in Thailand, for drug related crimes.

    None of those plot-strands connect to each other, and the story about Emil is so serious, with such high stakes, that it threatens to engulf the rest of the show. But weirdly enough, it is by allowing that to happen, that the quality improves. As Emil’s case worsens, the stress caused to the rest of the family, and the actions they are forced to undertake, brings buried misgivings and aggressions to light, creating one of the very best episodes the show has ever done in episode three. And as the family implodes in one corner of the show, the ripples force Signe to once again reconsider her identity. If the first season was her coming to terms with the legacy of being a Grønnegård, the second season, after a faltering start, becomes exciting once it takes a closer look at exactly what being a Grønnegård means. And whether or not it is a good thing.

    The production values continue to be to the highest of standards. The acting, led by veterans Trine Dyrholm and Jesper Christensen, is second to none on Danish television. In his big showcase episode, Carsten Bjørklund creates a frightening portrait of anger, fear and despair, that could quite conceivably have won him the Emmy, had the show been American. Marie Bach Hansen continues to have a tougher job than the rest of her castmates, as her character Signe Larsen is still defining herself as a character and is prone to making stupid and immature decisions, but in later episodes she’s allowed to be as dominant as the rest of the cast, and Bach Hansen rises to the occasion. The series keeps following the visual template laid down at the start of season one by actress-turned-director Pernilla August, with a hand-held camera and expressive, wordless sequences. The many dialogue scenes are punctuated with beautiful images of fires burning, cars driving at night, and people playing, creating, doing something new with their hands. Actor Jesper Christensen directs the first three episodes and does a really great job.

    The series main writer continues to be Maya Ilsøe, and the crew continues to involve more women than is perhaps usual. And the large amount of women creatively involved is easy to see on screen. The story involves the legacy of a great female artist, and the two characters with the most struggles continue to be Gro and Signe. They have to fight for their positions, not just as creative persons, but as creative women. The breakdown of Frederik centrally involves his unresolved feelings toward women – due to his very problematic relationship with his mother – and at the fringes of the show, older male characters often patronize the younger women, at times without they themselves knowing it. It is never showed in a finger-pointing way, it is just written into the fabric of the show. The women aren’t superheroes, and the men aren’t scum. Every person on this show is flawed and has to fight his or her own flaws. But the show never forgets that even the flaws inside us at times relate to gendered patterns in society.

    With amazing acting and great visuals, the show could survive for quite a while even if the plot succumbed completely to the allure of the soap opera. But after a shaky start, the second season comes into its own as a worthy follow-up to season one, continuing and developing the questions that were asked by those episodes. With two episodes still to come, and rumours of a third, concluding season to follow, it remains to be seen how much more the show has up its sleeves.

    Read other articles over at Cinemascandinavia

    Review by Frederik Bove/Photo from ‘Cinema Scandinavia’

    http://www.cinemascandinavia.com/the-legacy-ii/

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    Nordicana – London 2015

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 18th May 2015
  • Nordicana_2015

    Ok, it’s here…….Nordicana – London 2015. Any Nordophile with an interest in Nordic TV and dramas, Nordic food, drinks and culture or who just enjoys the buzz of being amongst fellow Nordophiles and Nordic greats, should read on for more details about one of the top events hitting London this year. Nordicana 2015 6th–7th JUNE […]




    Ok, it’s here…….Nordicana – London 2015.

    Any Nordophile with an interest in Nordic TV and dramas, Nordic food, drinks and culture or who just enjoys the buzz of being amongst fellow Nordophiles and Nordic greats, should read on for more details about one of the top events hitting London this year.

    Nordicana_2015

    Nordicana 2015

    6th–7th JUNE 2015 CONFIRMED FOR THE 3rd NORDICANA FESTIVAL – THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON OF NORDIC NOIR TV – AT THE TROXY

    SOFIE GRÅBØL (THE KILLING), SOFIA HELIN (THE BRIDGE) CONFIRMED TO ATTEND

    UK PREMIERE OF EPISODE ONE OF JORDSKOTT, THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED AND CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED NORDIC MYSTERY THRILLER, AHEAD OF ITS ITV ENCORE LAUNCH

    Wednesday 6th May – From 6th-7th June 2015, fans with a criminal curiosity for provocative Nordic crime dramas, will be flocking to London for the return of the Nordicana festival, which is now in its third year. Sponsored by Kolson Export, this year’s event also boasts an exciting new venue – the Troxy, moments from Limehouse Station.

    This year’s smorgasbord of Nordic delights includes the attendance of two of the most high-profile faces of Nordic TV; Danish actress Sofie Gråbøl, best known for playing the iconic jumper-wearing Sarah Lund in The Killing, and Swedish actress Sofia Helin, unforgettable as the leather-clad Saga Noren in the Danish/Swedish co-produced TV series The Bridge. Both actresses will participate in Q&As and ticketed signings.

    “I can’t wait to attend this year’s Nordicana”, says Sofie Grabol, “it’s such a great opportunity to discuss the best international television series from all over Scandinavia”.

    ”I am so happy about the success for The Bridge in the UK and I am so much looking forward to attend the Nordicana for the second time” continues Sofia Helin, “I had great time in London last year and I am really looking forward to meeting the devoted fans of the series once again”.

    Nordicana 2015 is also excited to present the UK premiere of the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed Nordic contemporary thriller, Jordskott on Saturday 6th June, ahead of its broadcast launch on ITV Encore in June. A smash hit success in its native Sweden, Nordicana will welcome JORDSKOTT star Moa Gammell (widely tipped to join Gråbøl and Helin as the third internationally recognized female Nordic detective) and series creator Henrik Bjorn. Each Jordskott episode will be available on iTunes the day after it TXs on ITV Encore, the full series releases on DVD in August.

    “When I started creating the universe of Jordskott I could only dream that the series would have the attention and praise it is now receiving”, says Bjorn, “We are all very proud to be invited to Nordicana and I look forward to meeting the audience together with fellow Scandi hits shows like The Bridge and The Killing”.

    Tickets are available to buy now from nordicnoir.tv. Lots more names, activities and events taking place at Nordicana 2015 will be announced in the coming weeks.

    The festival is designed to allow audiences the chance to explore the intoxicating realm of Nordic Noir and to get up close and personal, with an interactive collection of cultural activities to choose from. A tantalising range of food, drink, design and culture from partners such as House of Sverre, Grasilver and Totally Swedish will be available, combining the excitement of a cultural expo with the flair of a film and literary festival.

    The evolution of the show continues in 2015 with a brand new team taking the concept into a fresh, revised format. All ticket holders will enjoy their own numbered seat for the day and can relax in-between talks and screenings.

    Check the website regularly for details of the stars in attendance, screenings, Q&A’s and other information – NordicNoir.tv/nordicana.

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    Walk behind Wallander – Ystad, Sweden

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 16th May 2015
  • Ystad street

    Every Nordophile will have that first defining moment when they realised their passion for all things Nordic. For me it was finding the Wallander books, written by Swedish great, Henning Mankell. An interesting man in himself, he seemed to be able to create a character who was multifaceted but likeable at the same time. Could […]




    Every Nordophile will have that first defining moment when they realised their passion for all things Nordic. For me it was finding the Wallander books, written by Swedish great, Henning Mankell. An interesting man in himself, he seemed to be able to create a character who was multifaceted but likeable at the same time. Could his personality and how he communicated with those around him be put down to a cultural difference? Was this how all Swedes were? I was curious, but I was also hooked. Not just by the characters and story lines but by the Swedish backdrop, the food that was mentioned, the traditions and hearing the language. So when these books were suddenly put onto our TV screens I was excited to see if this character could work in 3D and if the descriptions of a small town in Sweden called Ystad was true.

    Ystad street

     

     

    I wasn’t disappointed! The yellow houses, the frosty landscapes, the hot summer haze across the fields (granted slightly muddied by a man who had just been slayed) but that added to it…. Was this what Nordic Noir was all about? Stunning backdrops setting the stage for dark murders.

    I have a lot to thanks the 3 Swedish greats, as I have called them in a previous article. Henning Mankell, Kristen Henrikkson and Kurt Wallander.

    Of course my chances of meeting any of them are quite slim, but….. I can do the next best thing and walk behind Wallander’s footsteps as VisitSweden tells me that I can walk in his footsteps on one of the guided tours.

    As a Nordophile you can indulge whilst on holiday with a trip to Mariagatan in Ystad, go and see Kåseberga, a village that features in ‘Before the Frost’ and ‘Faceless Killers’, you can visit Svarte, where Wallander retires to and spends many a nights sitting out contemplating a case. In fact they tell you about 67 different areas of interest to the Wallander series, that you can visit.

    The best thing about following in his footsteps is that even if you aren’t a Wallander fan, any Nordophile will just love surrounding themselves with the beauty of this region in Sweden.

    www.wallander.ystad.se/en

    www.nordicstylemag.com/2014/08/henning-mankell-swedish-legend/

     

    photo credit: florianplag

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    Cinema Scandinavia

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 15th May 2015
  • Issue 9 of Cinema Scandinavia

    If you’re Nordophile with a particular interest in Nordic Film and want to read reviews about them, find out where the festivals are that are showing them, then Cinema Scandinavia is the magazine to check out. Based in Melbourne Australia you couldn’t get a more opposite place to our beloved dark Nordic vast landscapes, but […]




    If you’re Nordophile with a particular interest in Nordic Film and want to read reviews about them, find out where the festivals are that are showing them, then Cinema Scandinavia is the magazine to check out.

    Based in Melbourne Australia you couldn’t get a more opposite place to our beloved dark Nordic vast landscapes, but don’t worry you don’t have to travel that far.

    Emma Robinson has brought this fantastic site to your inbox and also packs it into a magazine.

    Below Emma sums up what Cinema Scandinavia is all about and takes time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

    Cinema Scandinavia is a quarterly magazine for the films from the Nordic countries. Written in English, the aim of Cinema Scandinavia is to promote and discuss Nordic cinema to the international community. In addition to our magazine, we also update the website daily with the latest reviews, press releases, news and festival announcements and awards. Cinema Scandinavia is the best source if you are looking to find Nordic films playing at festivals or cinemas near your country!

    Issue 9 of Cinema Scandinavia

     

    Interview

    What are your top 5 Nordic films for 2015?

    The top five films I’m keeping my eye on this year are:

    • Virgin Mountain. An Icelandic film about a loner that is currently getting a ton of festival awards
    • Men and Chicken. Hilariously bizarre Danish comedy at its finest
    • Louder Than Bombs. Joachim Trier’s new film competing at Cannes
    • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. The film continues to be rolled out in cinemas worldwide and at various festivals.
    • The Absent One. Hoping to see an English-subtitle release of the new Department Q film being rolled out in cinemas this year!

    Which film festival do you think is worth a visit for Nordophiles?

    The Goteborg Film Festival is Scandinavia’s largest festival – it caters to the international crowd and shows all the big name and new Nordic films. Takes place every year in February!

    Where can Nordophiles buy your magazine?

    The Cinema Scandinavia magazine is available printed and digitally on our website – www.cinemascandinavia.com

    Are you a complete Nordophile or is it just the films that inspire you?

    I’m mostly inspired by the Nordic culture. I travel to Norway twice a year and find myself closer to the Norwegian culture than my natural Australian one. Films provide incredibly accurate and insightful portrayals of Nordic culture, so I find film a great way to learn about where they came from.

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    Jorn Lier Horst – Interview

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 14th May 2015
  • Jorn Lier Horst is a Nordic Noir crime author from Norway. He writes from a place of certainty and knowledge as he was Chief Inspector of Police in Norway for 20 years. After discovering his talent for crime writing, he has had published his crime books in many countries, won numerous awards and continues to […]




    Jorn Lier Horst is a Nordic Noir crime author from Norway. He writes from a place of certainty and knowledge as he was Chief Inspector of Police in Norway for 20 years.

    After discovering his talent for crime writing, he has had published his crime books in many countries, won numerous awards and continues to promote the Nordic Noir literary world by attending book and crime festivals around Europe.

    For all Nordophiles out there who like to indulge their passion with a Nordic Noir book that not only brings them a good crime story but also a Nordic backdrop then Nordophile recommends Jorn Lier Horst.

     

    Jorn Lier Horst

     

     

    You were recently at the huge Norwegian Krimfestivalen, how important is it to you to meet up with other Nordic authors and promote the Nordic literary genre?

    It is first and foremost very nice to attend such festivals. It’s nice to meet writer colleagues and those who read our books – and discuss what we are concerned with: Good crime fiction. For me, that is novels that possess the ability to imitate real life with originality and elegance, with linguistic precision and psychological depth, full of ghastly crimes and protracted tension.

     

    24903066

     

    With two of the biggest crime literary festivals in England and Norway attended, can fans of your books expect to see you at any other festivals this year?
    I just recently went home from one of the biggest Crime Festival in Scandinavia – Krimimessen in Denmark. My calendar is not fully booked, but I will attend at the Göteborg Book Fair in September and The Finnish book fair in October.

     

    As much as Nordophiles have a passion for all things Nordic, is there any one country where you specifically enjoy the culture, cuisine and way of life?
    I have been very fond of Spain and have spent many dark autumn evenings in the small port town of Puerto Banus. The hospitality, the sun, and the heat provide the best basis for recreation. Moreover, the country is a cultural treasure chest with stunning architecture, visual arts, culinary meals, flamenco, and fiestas.

     

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    Nordic Noir Tours

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 13th May 2015
  • A view of Borgen Square

    If you’ve been following some of the best Nordic dramas which have hit our TV screens the last few years you will of no doubt become fans of The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. Fancy following in Sarah Lund’s footsteps? Marvel at the backdrop in which Birgitte Nyborg ran Denmark or intrigued by the locations […]




    If you’ve been following some of the best Nordic dramas which have hit our TV screens the last few years you will of no doubt become fans of The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge.

    Fancy following in Sarah Lund’s footsteps? Marvel at the backdrop in which Birgitte Nyborg ran Denmark or intrigued by the locations which saw Saga Noren shooting around in her vintage car. But just don’t know where you would start?

    A Nordic Tour

    Don’t worry, because there is a tour which will do all the guiding for you!

    Nordic Noir Tours offers tours themed around the popular Danish television series The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. We want to blur the line between fiction and reality by showing the film locations of these series as well as telling guests the stories behind the productions and how they were inspired by real events.

    The business started about a year ago and is run by Dieuwertje (Dee), from The Netherlands. Dee moved to Denmark at the beginning of 2013 after she had written her dissertation on film tourism in Denmark. She has a fascination for crime fiction, thrillers and horror films and also guides many of the tours herself.

    Nordic Noir Tours offers open tours on Saturdays and private tours throughout the week. Prices start from 100 dkk per person.

    On the Borgen tour guests will, among other places, visit the exteriors of Christiansborg palace. Here are many recognisable locations that were used for scenes with Birgitte Nyborg and her spin doctor, or shady politicians plotting their plans. The fun part about this tour is that you will also hear about the connection between fiction and reality and, for example, how politics and media inspired the story of Borgen.

    On The Killing/The Bridge tour you get to see a completely different side of Copenhagen, the edgy side of the city. Participants will see lots of film locations from the two series, like the police headquarters. You will also hear about Danish design, Scandinavian stereotypes and, of course, the lovely and quirky Sarah Lund and Saga Noren.

    http://nordicnoirtours.com/

    photo credit ‘Nordic Noir Tours’

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