Some years ago I read an article about a study made on individuals with psychopathic traits. By the use of PET and MR-cameras, the researchers had found certain differences between the psychopaths’ brains and those of other people. (the key differences were excessive dopamine systems, different structures in the frontal lobes, etc.).

I found it very intriguing. Psychopaths are cold-blooded persons who take what they want without feeling any empathy with others. Are they ‘evil’? If their evil is caused by physical abnormalitites, or if this evil is a neurological disability, how should one then deal with psychopaths? It was subject that greatly interested me.

One day — when I was playing the computer game War of Warcraft — I found myself chased by wolves in a narrow valley. Every time I tried to escape, I was hindered by steep rock walls. I was trapped with the wolves. In that moment of panic I was conscious of a new idea for a novel – which became The Devil’s Sanctuary. The plot would be set in the Swiss Alps.

Why Switzerland? I think it was because I find that country a little creepy. Everything is so clean and proper that we perhaps feel a suspicion that something is hidden behind this perfect surface. I went to Lauterbrunnental, a very narrow and deep valley in Switzerland, and undertook some research for the setting.

I wrestled with this novel for a long time and Himmelstal, the valley in my story, became very real to me — and I found myself dreaming about it. I wonder if readers will too?

The Devil’s Sanctuary by Marie Hermanson is published by Trapdoor

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