CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Kjell Ola Dahl

>1) So, who are you and what have you written?

I am Kjell Ola Dahl, a Norwegian crime writer. Orenda Books is currently publishing my the next books in the Oslo Detectives series – Faithless and The Ice Swimmers – featuring detectives Frank Frřlich and Inspector Gunnarstranda. Previous books in the series include: The Fourth Man, The Man in the Window, The Last Fix and Lethal Investments. Every book stands alone, and they are translated by Don Bartlett. Quite a number of my books have not yet been translated into English, but they will be available soon from Orenda Books. Find me on Facebook, HERE.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

I write crime fiction because I’m interested in politics, in modern society, in language and in telling stories. When a crime is a committed, one can tell all sorts of tales – some of them about individuals who don’t fit in, who are alienated, or who feel that it is OK to break the rules: stealing, robbing, hurting people, and even killing them. Crime stories can also be gateways into people’s lives and into the complex structures that make up society. This is why I always want crime fiction to be about real people in a realistic world. And why I’m so interested in my characters – both my protagonists and my antagonists, and their roles in the story – why they behave like they do. Apart from all this, I am simply very fond of mysteries. I think we all are. In my opinion, this interest in mysteries is inextricably linked to an interest in stories. Because, in the end, good stories are nearly all structured like mysteries.

3) What informs your crime writing? 

In short – everything. My novels are the way they are for all sorts of different reasons. It takes me at least a couple of years to write a book, and this means my writing changes depending what stage of my life I was at when I wrote a particular title. For example, the book I’m writing now is inspired by the research I did in order to write a couple of non-fiction books, as well as by two other novels that I started but never finished. You could say, therefore, that the material has matured and is now finally ready. Faithless was inspired by many things: the nature of friendship; the bonds that form between work colleagues; the geography of Oslo; the logistics of running a city; and racism, to mention just a few things.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

I write every day from seven in the morning until noon. If I’m inspired I’ll find some time to write later in the day, too.

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

If you had asked me that question twenty years ago, I probably could have managed an appropriate answer. But things change, people change – writers and readers change. And tastes change too. I admire a lot of books, but I don’t think now I would like to have written any myself. I’m on my own path, doing my own thing.

Sometimes I think of it like Hokusai painting Mount Fuji. He painted the same scene over and over again, but at the same time these paintings are all different. Another way to answer this question is that maybe I’m just too old and grumpy to provide a good enough answer!

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