My latest book, Hypothermia, is a kind of an Icelandic ghost story. A woman has hanged herself in a summer house outside of Reykjavík and the only thing my man Erlendur has to go by is the fact that her mother died two years ago and told her daughter that if there was an afterlife she would let her know.
The writers who inspired me in the beginning are the Swedes Sjöwall and Wahlöö, the couple that wrote about policemen in Stockholm in the sixties and seventies – great and realistic books about everyday life and work of officer Martin Beck and company. Also I have always been very fond of Ed McBain.
The fact is I have not been reading very much of crime these last years. I look more often for historical accounts and poems by Icelanders. But I do know that Nordic crime stories have been very much in demand lately and noticable in the book stores and this makes me very glad.
I think it is up to each and every writer to tackle the issue of violence in their works. I do not write much about violence myself except in Silence of the Grave which was about domestic violence. I look more for the violence inflicted on the soul rather than the body – blood and gore is just not something that interests me.
I have no idea if contemporary writer should opt for frankness or discretion in writing about sexuality. There is no rule there; if it fits use it. There is only one sex scene in the series about Erlendur with him taking part and it was described with one word, ‘effortless’, I think it was. Sex/violence is not my thing, as you can see.
Realism, I think, is the principal appeal of the kind of fiction I write. I actually have a very difficult readership here in Iceland. My readers have to believe that what takes place in my books could happen in Reykjavík and in Iceland and often it is very difficult to make it as beliveable as is demanded. But I think this makes me a better writer because it makes me find other solutions and find new perspectives.
I write principally for myself even if I bear in mind the tough readership I have here. I think every writer should have something to say and if he has he must write from his own heart. Only that way can in be true and authentic to the readers. There is nothing new it that. I think every real writer writes what is on his mind.
My next book is about a rape case, a woman is horribly raped and then gets away — but later the rapist is found dead, his throat cut. A bit of blood and gore there, actually, I suppose…
‘Hypothermia’ is published by Harvill Secker.