CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Gunnar Staalesen

1) So, who are you & what have you written?

My name is Gunnar Staalesen and I’m a Norwegian crime writer. I have written eighteen novels and two collections of short stories about the Bergen-based private detective, Varg Veum. You can find out more about me and my books, as well as about the TV dramas, films and other work based on them on my website, HERE. Most of the site is in Norwegian, but you can find out which titles are published in the UK and other English-speaking countries, HERE. Plus you can find out about films based on my work on the IMDB page.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

I write crime fiction because I have always loved reading crime stories – ever since I first read the Hardy Boys books, and then experienced my first ‘adult’ crime mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles. After reading the Swedish writers Sjöwall & Wahlöö and the American trinity of Hammett, Chandler and Ross Macdonald, I was inspired to start writing within the genre. I began in 1975 with a police procedural, and my first Varg Veum novel came out in 1977. For me crime fiction is the perfect way to tell the stories I want to tell: those that deal with the human condition in our times and our kind of society.

3) What informs your crime writing? 

I am first and foremost a storyteller. I like to tell good, old-fashioned stories in the tradition of Conan Doyle and Dickens, of Victor Hugo and Ernest Hemingway, and of Hammett and Chandler. From time to time I am inspired by real cases, but I make them my own. So I suppose what I write is pure fiction – inspired by reality.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

I devote more or less an ordinary working day to writing; i.e., I write from say 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. I never write at night, but it sometimes happens that I write in the evening, if I have something to finish. Five days a week of writing is normal for me, if I am not too busy doing interviews or answering questions like these!

5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

 I would like to have written How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar or The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, which are two of my favorite crime novels.

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