What started you off writing?
I have always written. When I was a child, I used to write short stories by hand, have them photocopied at my friend’s father’s work, and we’d then sell them to the neighbors and buy candy with the profits. There were always stories swirling around in my head, but at that time, I stuck to shorter stories, mostly focusing on happy endings.
Which writer do you feel inspired you the most to yourself become an author?
I’d say it was an Icelandic author called Einar Már Guðmundsson. We were assigned to read his book at school, and I was determined to dislike it, as I was a teenager and it was cool to dislike everything. Despite my determination, I still liked his book.
It’s a book about his mentally ill brother, and it’s written just beautifully. His descriptions are uncommon but so very vivid, and the way he treated this hard story was just spectacular. The book is called Angels of the Universe, and I truly recommend reading it, as it’s a work of art.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere. One of my favorite sentences is ‘Be careful what you tell me—it might end up in a book.’ I try to make notes when I’m told something interesting, and if it’s fitting for one of my novels, it might in fact end up in a book.
In my most recent novel, His Sweet, I use stories my friend from Alabama has told me, and I feel it makes the story more real, as it takes place in that state. In the next book I am writing, I use a story my cousin told me, so there’s often something I’ve heard that inspires parts of my books. They are mostly fiction, but I like adding the occasional truth for spice.
Do you have a favourite book which you couldn’t put down or have reread several times?
I love The Hobbit. I’ve reread it countless times, and although it is perhaps not in the crime genre, it’s still a fantastic story with excitement and extremely well-sculpted characters. I’ve also read Angels of the Universe a few times.
What is your writing process like?
I generally get an idea and can’t wait to start writing. Then I’ll write a few chapters, often up to ten, and after that, I’ll evaluate if I feel the story is interesting enough to become a book. If it is, I’ll start planning. Then I bring out my cards, write one or two words to describe each chapter, and start arranging the story.
Sometimes, my characters become naughty and refuse to do what I want for the story to progress in the manner I had decided. Then I’ll have to sit down again, add a chapter, or change the whole storyline. Many of my readers would think I have control over my characters, but that’s a misunderstanding. They control the story, because what is most important is that they stay true to themselves and behave in a manner fitting their personality. Whatever I want is therefore secondary.
Tell us a little bit about your most recent book.
My most recent book is called His Sweet, and it takes place in Alabama. It starts with a group of teenagers finding a box of notebooks that appear to be written by a kidnapped girl. They then bring the notebooks to the sheriff, Yolanda Demetriou, who then starts trying to piece together the information from the diary entries in an attempt to find the missing girl.
I am very happy with this book, as it elicited so many emotions while writing, and although it’s supposed to be a single novel, my readers have begged me to write another one with the same characters. What the future will bring in that respect will have to remain a mystery for now.
What did you find the most challenging aspect of writing your latest book?
Writing about the girl who is trapped in a cellar. To be honest, while writing a big part of the book, I sorely wanted to travel into the book and kick that horrible man’s butt. I think it is a good thing that my book brought up so many emotions in me, because I feel that has allowed me to channel the girl better. I can’t deny it was hard—really hard—at times, though.
What five books would you say everyone should have in their personal libraries?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Angels of the Universe by Einar Már Guðmundsson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett.
In general, I think people should find books that really speak to them and keep those in their library. We each prefer different kinds of voices, but once we find the ones we love, those books are worth keeping close.
Where do you write, and do you have any idiosyncrasies or specific writing area that has to be just so?
I write quite a lot at coffee houses, and I tend to switch between them. Right now, I’m sitting at one in a very big mall called Jordbær pikene in Jessheim, Norway. When I’m writing, I wear my noise-cancelling headphones, and I’m generally listening to instrumental or Latin music, because I struggle listening to English verses while writing in English. It somehow disrupts my focus.
If you could yourself climb into any book and take on the mantle of a character, which book, and which character would it be?
I think I’d like to be Rincewind in Terry Pratchett’s books. He’s a student of magic, and he gets to hang out with Twoflower, a character I think I’d love to be around.
What upcoming works can we expect from you, and do you have a timeframe for them?
I am currently working on two novels. The sequel to Loner (the Oslo mysteries) and a book taking place at the hospital where I work. Both are crime fiction. The first is a bit political, getting into prostitution in Oslo, and the second is more scientific, revolving around medicine and biology.
I had promised my coworkers I’d write a book about the hospital where I work, and with that second book, I am trying to fulfill that wish. What they don’t know is that in my novel, I am going to kill our boss. (Although I did go so far as to acquire permission from him!)