Note: This is a shortened version of the interview published on Deckarhuset (in Swedish).
Christoffer, welcome to TheCrimeHouse!
In one sentence – How would you describe your crime novels for someone who has never heard of you?
Wow, difficult. Crime dramas, exciting stories about crime, where characters and relationships are equally important to driving the story forward as the plot.
You write crime novels, but you also do research in criminology—one could say you are fascinated by crime. Is that true and what have made you work in this field?
Ha ha, yes, you could say that. The important thing for me, as a researcher and author, is to try to understand people’s lives: why do they act the way the act, think the way they think, feel the way they feel, why do they turn out a certain way. Sometimes crime is a very central element when it comes to understanding a person’s life, sometimes not. And, also, sometimes the crime’s consequences (e.g. a prison term) is extremely important in understanding why a person’s life turns out the way it does. So crime actually fascinate me a lot in that way. And hey, stories about crime tend to be quite exciting, since the person who commits the crime by definition is doing something he/she needs to hide from others.
Can you briefly tell us about your research? And more importantly, how do you have time to write as well?
My research has mainly focused on the processes, events and factors that influence people’s lives when it comes to their criminality: what triggers people to commit crime? What is it that makes them continue once they have started, and what makes them (finally) stop? Together with a few others in a larger research group, I have conducted a lot of interviews with people who have had different forms of “criminal careers”, which we call it, and tried to find patterns and common denominators in their lives. It is more difficult than it seems.
And you know when it comes to writing, for me it has become such a natural part of life that it feels weird when I am not writing. I compare it to exercise; many people can have a family life and a career and still exercise several times a week. I write when other people exercise, which, unfortunately, means that I am in very bad shape, ha ha. But, yes, it is not that remarkable.
I am always curious about authors’ workplaces. What does it look like? Are you sitting at a desk, at a café, or at the dining table? Is it messy or neat?
I can sit pretty much anywhere: a bus, a café, a gate at the airport, at the dining table at home. It did not use to be like that, but my lifestyle demands that I be flexible, otherwise I could not write as much as I want to. I used to sit at Emergency Rooms and write before. It was the absolute best place I have ever written at. Nowadays I cannot do that I am afraid, since the security has increased. But ten years ago you could still do that. I loved it, I could sit there entire afternoons and evenings, sometimes half the night.
What is the most fun part about writing? Figure out a plot, create characters or environments, or something else?
Oh, you cannot really separate those things. For me it is all connected, the plot is intimately connected to the environment, and that it turns affects what characters are needed for the different scenes, and so on. But the original creation – when the story comes to life – as a whole is among the most fun things I know. And I mean the most fun…in life.
If your novels are adapted into movies, what actor would you like to see as Leo Junker?
I think Adam Lundgren would make an excellent Leo Junker. But unfortunately he is almost a Hollywood-star, so he may have more important things to do
If you were the main character in a crime novel, what would you want to be? Police, detective, private investigator, journalist, something else, and what would your style be?
Ha ha, what a great question! Detective sounds interesting…I would probably be a detective that stands in the background and most of all listens to songs like “Lost and found” with Adrienne Pierce or “Paint the silence” with South and watches “True Detective”, but has to work sometimes to afford milk and cereal. A difficult bastard. Ha, ha, that would be me! And if you have not listened to ”Paint the silence”, you should. It is a bit of a forgotten song that is really good.
You have one week left until deadline for your latest manuscript. What are you thinking/feeling then?
Hmm…I wonder if this really is a story, or if it is just a collection of chapters where characters do things that may or may not be connected. Oh well, I have been working at this for so long that someone else will have to determine that, because I have no idea anymore. Like that. Working with my publisher is actually very harmonic. We have worked together more than five years and know each other very well.
What do reviews of your novels mean to you?
I would be lying if I said they do not mean anything. They mean something, but not everything. It is like this, a positive review makes me happy for an hour. Then something happens that makes the joy disappear, like me spilling coffee on my clean shirt or that I walk past a mirror and realize “damn, I have become fat” or something like that. A negative review makes me cranky and down for a day or so, then that passes too. So they mean something, but definitely not everything. The important thing is that the readers are touched by my stories in some way.
Question from Thomas Engström: What’s a really good and a really bad day at the office?
Ha ha! A really bad day is when I sit down to write early, but for some reason do not write more than 1000 words all day; when there are too many distractions. When I have a good novel that I would rather be reading, or when I have tweeted something I imagine is funny and I want to see if people have shared it, or when I am hungry or thirsty and I am not at home, but at a hotel or in a park and have to go somewhere to eat or drink… Basically when there are too many distractions. Then you can also be sure that someone is posting a negative review of one of my previous novels somewhere, or that a planned book event that I have looked forward to is cancelled, or…well, you get it. An uninvited guest rarely shows up alone, like grandpa always said. That is a really bad day at the office. It happens sometime, but not very often. A really good day at the office is when I write a lot, which in my world equals around 3000 words or more, and I get a hamburger for lunch. Something like that.
If you had to write a historic crime novel or a crime novel that takes place in the future, what would you choose?
I would like to write a historic crime novel, but I would not go back very far; I would write about something in the 1970s or 1980s. Does that even qualify as a historic crime novel?