Interview with Johan Theorin

We at TheCrimeHouse are proud to welcome Johan Theorin, winner of the CWA John Creasey (New blood) Award 2010, to this interview!

Can you describe what a day at work looks like for you?
I have a working room in an old house in central Gothenburg, where I sit between 10 am and 6 pm. Sometimes it’s really slow and I only write one page/day but when everything works I can write up to 8-10 pages/day.

You are also a script writer. Tell us what kind of scripts you have written and how it differs from writing novels?
I didn’t write film scripts but interactive game scripts for the Internet and CD-ROM. Interactive scripts are tricky to write because the script are not in chronological order but more like a maze, with different directions the story takes. But there are of course some freedom in that sort of story telling compared to traditional novels with only one sequence of action.

Can you name some authors that have influenced your writing?

Basically all I’ve ever read! The great authors inspired me because I was jealous of them after reading them and wanting to write as good as them. The bad was inspiring because I thought “I can do this just as good and better”!

Last year you won the CWA John Creasy (New blood) dagger award for your novel Echoes from the dead. How does it work and did you go to the award ceremony?
The CWA award is distributed by the British Crime Writers Society and there is a jury who reads the books of the year and pick the winners. The ceremony itself is a lavish banquet in a banquet hall in Hyde Park, London, with press photographers, film crew and smoking dressed guards. It was big. You can find an article about it here. Link…

Your characters are not perfect people but are still very likeable. My favourite character is Per from your latest novel. What is you favourite character?

Except the ships captain Gerlof there are several new characters in every novel and I have spent a lot of time with them during the writing. The killer Nils Kant in Echoes from the dead was special. In the beginning I really disliked him but in the end of the novel I mostly felt sorry for him.

Your crime novels are not that traditional or tied to a specific crime genre. Do you think yourself as a novelist, crime writer or something else?
I don´t have any problem with people thinking I write crime novels. It may not be procedural but all the novels about Öland are about crimes and mysteries. Then they also have other things in them, like folklore, natural romance, and relationships problems. I like to mix a lot of ingrediences in a story and see what happens.

Can you give our readers tips of 2 crime novels, 2 horror novels, 2 collections of short stories and 2 ordinary novels?
Crime: Calling out for you (English translation), The Indian bride (American translation) by Karin Fossum, The talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Horror: The haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and Mörkrädd (Swedish) by Andreas Roman
Collection of short stories: Fly till vatten och morgon (Swedish) by Thorsten Jonsson and Berättat om natten (Swedish) by Niklas Rådström
Novels: Busters ears by Maria Ernestam, Vim älskar Yngve Frej (Swedish) by Stig Claesson.

Your descriptions of the island Öland is very beautiful. Is it memories of Öland that brings out the description or where do you get your inspiration?
It’s both child hood memories of Öland and new experiences from the island. I still visit the island every year. But I can write about Öland anywhere – when I’m in Gothenburg I can just close my eyes and relocate to Öland in a second.

How do you look at the author ship today when a big part of a writers work is marketing?
The novels should be the only thing that is important. Not the persons who writes them – but that’s not how it works today. There is a huge interest in hearing and seeing the authors in libraries and book fairs. I sometimes sigh about it as a writer since I enjoy writing in peace, but I guess that as a reader I am the same. If I read an interesting novel I instantly want to know more about the author.

If you look at crime series on TV or watch a crime movie, what do you choose?
The latest TV-series about Inspector Winter, based on Åke Edwardssons novels was good. When it comes to movies, the latest I saw and really liked was Insomnia with Al Pacino and Robin Wiliams, but that was several years ago.

You were refused several times before you got published. What made you not give up?
In a way I have been an author since the 1980s. I´ve published short stories in over 20 years but they didn´t want my novels. It´s very hard not to be published but I didn´t give up. Writing was a hobby and passion and I would have continued writing all my life even if my novels never were published.

What will you write after you’ve finished the fourth and last novel about Öland?
I have some ideas for a novel that feels exiting, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I will take a break from Öland though.

And last but not least. What are you reading right now? 
I’m reading the South African author Deon Meyers first novel Dead before dying. A very good procedural novel.

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