“I bet you will feel the heat, hear the goats and begin to love Erhard”
Coming from a tradition of classic literature, I was inspired to challenge the crime novel and introduce an incompetent masculine detective, a reflective pace and multi-dimensional gallery of characters. So why should you read The Hermit? Here are three reasons:
1. The main character will intrigue you
The main character Erhard is not your favorite detective. He’s not even a detective, he’s a cab driver and a piano tuner. But through the novel, he begins to learn some of the traits of the detective, though he continues to have his own moral codex and mostly going with what works over what is right. He is 67 yrs old and fled Denmark 17 years prior to the beginning of the novel. He has now lived in Fuerteventura, one of the Canarian islands, as a hermit and nothing is happening, no love, no life.
I loved working with a character with a long, strange and unknown backstory. He is flawed. Imperfect. Like all of us. And one of his flaws is physical – he is missing a finger. It is always there to witness his past, something that went terribly wrong. There is never a really good explanation to a missing finger. It is not a fashion statement. It is a sign of his past. You could say that Erhard stayed in the past. Life continued. But he stayed behind. All the modern ways of man do not speak to him, and he has given up on learning about them. It is a natural consequence of Erhard’s life, but also a great obstacle for a writer. I had to find alternative ways for him to solve even basic tasks that most people would google within minutes.
Being alive is messy. Life is messy. Erhard steps into action – and it is not always pretty. It is a great privilege to work with a character who is not a policeman or a moral hero. Erhard can do what he finds necessary in the moment, even if it has a cost. To me it makes him interesting and fun to work with. And very human. I don’t always know what he is going to do. That keeps me on the edge as a writer – and I believe it translates into the same experience as a reader.
2. The story, the setting and the characters will get under your skin
As a writer I set the pace of the novel, so you will feel the island, the heat, the waves coming in – and the heartbeat of Erhard. If you open the book, when you are in the subway or waiting for a friend in a busy café, you will definitely feel your breath changing. The island of Fuerteventura will appear. At least, I hope so. The island was the perfect place for Erhard to flee. Not only is Fuerteventura the ideal hiding place for anyone, dreaming of warm winds, the blue sea and beautiful Spanish women. But the barren landscape, the volcanic scenery and the immense solitude of the Canary Islands are also a mirror image of Erhard’s inner landscape – dry, lonely and poetic. It is important for me, for the story, that Erhard, even after 17 years, is still an outsider on the island. He sees things differently. And in this sense he will take you along as a reader, immersing you in the story.
3. It’s more than a crime story – it’s also a story of love, courage and change
I began writing the story of Erhard before I knew it would become a crime novel. I was interested in telling the story of a man, trying to change against the odds of time and habit. And, more than anything, against his own perception of who he is in the world. When the police finds the body of a small child in an abandoned car on the beach, they don’t want to pursue the case, as it might be bad publicity in times of crisis in the tourist industry. But Erhard will not have it. It is his call to action, his chance of making something right in the world. And taking that stand somehow begins to transform him – like it will any man who stand up. He, in fact, is almost given the opportunity for love, though the gifts of love are not easily received, when you are disillusioned in life and have been 17 yrs a hermit. Without revealing to much, there is a sex scene in the novel, which has almost become the most hyped pages of the book, and critics have celebrated the way Erhard is playing his part. I have even had some women tell me, it’s the most daring and honest sex scene they have ever read. I’ll let you decide.
The Hermit is published by Oneworld