CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Lilja Sigurdardóttir

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

I am an Icelandic writer. I have written five crime novels and a few stage plays, one of which was produced in Iceland and won some awards. It was great fun to write for the theatre and incredibly inspiring to experience theatre-artists at work, but crime-writing is my main career. Snare is my first book that has been translated into English and I am very excited to know what people here think of it. The English-speaking world has such a rich tradition of crime fiction so I hope my story is up to standards that readers are used to.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

Because I love it! Reading crime books gives you an enjoyment unlike anything else. It is hard to say exactly what is that makes it so enjoyable but I think it is the story0telling element. When a person buys a crime book it´s a sort of a story-telling pact between the reader and the writer. The reader expects the writer to tell a story and the level of enjoyment depends on how well the writer fulfils that pact. I feel it is my duty as a thriller writer to entertain people, to tell them a good story that is hard to put down and therefore make it an enjoyable experience.

3) What informs your crime writing?

I draw inspiration for my writing from everywhere! I love all sorts of conspiracy theories and gossip about politics and corruption. I like to follow news of events and challenge the consensus by thinking: What if things were quite the reverse? What if this person who was found guilty is in fact not guilty? What if this disgraced politician really did not do what he´s accused of? What if this person is being blackmailed to admit to something she did not do? This sparks endless stories in my head and sometimes I have to calm myself down to avoid becoming too fantastical! After I form a plot in my head I then research quite diligently to learn what is possible and what is not.

4) What´s your usual writing routine?

I wish I had a routine! With the international success of Snare I now travel very much so I am training myself to write in airplanes and trains and hotels. I take January and February off every year for writing but I don´t manage to write a whole book in that time so I have to be mindful of using every bit of free time I get to advance the story I am currently working on. When I am at home I like to start early in the morning. I get up, grab a cup of coffee and get going. At lunchtime I am usually drained so then I do other things. I feel writing is like a muscle, you have to train it to become efficient, so taking long periods off is not good although it is necessary to take a few days off every now and then to recharge the creative battery.

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

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Danish author Peter Höeg. It is an amazing story centred around our neighbouring Greenland. It has all the usual thriller elements and there is a big conspiracy at the centre of it but the social commentary is also very sharp and important in the Nordic countries, as it describes the life of mixed-race people that are torn between Inuit and Nordic culture. Smilla is an amazing female character and the book is an absolute enjoyment to read. There is also film adaptation of it called Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

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