A Few Frequently Asked Questions

(Selected from questions I usually get from the high school students, who write different types of assignments on my books.)

1. What made you consider a career as a writer?
I don’t really know. I was over 35 when I started writing. I have always read a lot but never really strived to become a writer. Though once I started writing, I realized that this was what I wanted to do. Reading and writing are more or less the same process, you step out of the world where you actually exist and into another. It's fascinating, and as a writer you get to decide what will happen, which, of course, is very satisfying.

2. Why do you write crime novels?
For two reasons, I think. Partly because I believe that books should be exciting – the reader should wonder what has happened and what will happen next; this is an incredibly important force driving all reading. Secondly, death is constantly present in crime novels, and when death is around, we ask important questions about life. But it's only really my Van Veeteren books that are pure detective stories – my other books (Kim Novak Never Swam in the Sea of Galilee, The Fly and Eternity, Barin’s Triangle, etc.) are more like traditional novels, but even my novels happily revolve around harsh, violent deaths.

3. How long does it take to write a book?
It depends. And it’s very different for different authors, naturally. For my part, I write pretty quickly - but with pauses now and then; and since I have published at least one book every year so far, you could say that it I usually need 8-12 months. But the important thing is to never write because you think you have to. If I do not have a good story to tell, I keep quiet. I also re-write each book at least 8-10 times before I'm satisfied. I start out writing by hand too, only entering each chapter on the computer when it is finished.

4. Do you have a favourite author?
No, not really. I read a lot, but there are so many great writers that I do not want to mention only one.

5. Any favourite among your own books?
It’s a no on this one too. Some stories are probably more fun and exciting to read – and to write. But the important thing for me is to produce different kinds of stories. If I can surprise both the reader and myself, that’s good. I easily get bored and when I notice that I'm getting there, the story I'm working on probably needs a new twist.

6. What advice would you give to young writers?
You have to be patient. Writing and storytelling are delicate crafts. Language is your tool, and it doesn’t hurt if you actually have a story worth telling.