When a picture of two Danish girls who disappeared on a boat bound for England in 1985 emerges many years later in an old suitcase from a British second-hand dealer, the journalist Nora Sand’s professional curiosity is immediately awakened.But before she knows it, she is mixed up in the case of a serial killer who is serving a life sentence in a notorious prison and the quest to discover the truth about the missing girls may be more dangerous that she had ever imagined…
My Q&A with Lone Theils
I was a London-correspondent for a Danish national newspaper in London and I absolutely loved my job, covering anything from politics to culture and all the things in between.
In 2014 I sent my script to a Danish publisher. They loved it so much that they flew over just one week after to take me out to dinner and ask me to sign a contract.
It changed my life completely.
My debut became a solid bestseller in Denmark and has been sold in translation to 16 countries.
I am now making a living as an author and just finished my fourth crime novel. After 16 years in the UK, I have moved to Copenhagen but London is still home. In my heart and also where my heroine, the kickboxing journalist Nora Sand has her home from which she solves crimes.
Describe yourself using three words?
Danish, kickboxing, ex-journalist
What inspired you to write your first novel?
A true story. Two Danish girls had been photographed by a convicted serial killer from California and when police found the photos among his possessions decades later they had to ask the press to help identify the girls so they could discover if they were alive or had fallen prey to him. In reality the girls were found safe and well, but it gave me the idea for my story. I changed the scenery to the UK, as this is my second home country after living here for 16 years and I wanted to share my love of it with the readers.
What time of day do you like to write?
I try to strive to have some routine, so I try to start the writing right after I have had my morning swim in the ocean (I do this all year round, even in the Danish Winter). I come home, have breakfast and coffee and then I start writing. Some days are better than others, but when I am on a writing streak I can write even late in the night. I like the solitude of the night.
What is your favourite book and why?
It is really hard for me to pick on a single book, as I love reading. One of the most memorable books I have read in a long time is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I really blew me away. I am very very fond of John le Carré and read everything from his hand with a deep pleasure which has only deepened as I have gotten to know the quirks of the Brits close up by living in London. When it comes to crime novels, I have a range of favourites, by if I have to mention a few, it would be Belinda Bauer, Mo Hayder and Irish Tana French.
How did you pick the title of your book?
The Danish title didn’t quite work in English, so I mulled over this for a long time without finding any satisfactory solution. Then I got a brilliant translator (Charlotte Barslund) and shortly after I had asked her how to solve the problem, she came up with seven-eight suggestions. I think Fatal Crossing was number four and I loved it the moment I saw it. So it was pure gut feeling in the end.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
No. They are more of a merge between reality and my imagination. On purpose, I never researched anything about the real killer from California, because I wanted to make the story my own. Having said that, Nora Sand also happen to be a kickboxing journalist living in London who loves to listen to Nina Simone. So there is that. Andreas´s look is based on a guy that I once had a crush on, but he has a completely different personality. But the characters could be real. They are, as is my dialogue based on my skills as a journalist in observing the reality.
What’s your favourite word?
Orgasmic. We don’t have that in Danish and I am pretty jealous. Hedgehog and peculiar are also on my top three.
If you were a colour what would it be?
I want to say turquoise as that is my favorite colour and have some complexity to it with the q and the mix between green and blue. But the truth is I am probably more of a purple kind of person. And I almost always wear black.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
When I start I have what I call the core, which means I have some idea of why, who, what when it comes to the central crime in the novel. But putting it all down on yellow post-it notes just makes it seem too much like office work. So the rest of the time I go with the flow. Sometimes that means I end up killing people that I did not know would end up dead, to begin with, but that is, as they say, an occupational hazard.
Who is your favourite Author?
John le Carré. I don’t know what these people in the Nobel committee are waiting for. He is the greatest writer in our time if you ask me.
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
That is a tricky one. One of the satisfactions of crime writing is that villains end up with punishment and justice is served. But if I really have to pick one, I would probably, staying in the vein of le Carré, hope that Karla – the Russian opponent of Smiley, at least got to see his daughter and had some kind of decent life in the West after being forced to leave his life in Moscow by the cleverness of Smiley. Maybe with a happy ending, we could put him in a lovely little cottage in Cornwall and have him doing the daily shop in Waitrose.
Are you working on a new project?
Yes. A few actually. I just finished doing a crime novel for DR (the Danish equivalent of BBC) and that has resulted in a book as well. It is called 87 seconds, which refers to the time it takes the brain to force you to try to breathe under water. Which means you drown. I have just handed in the first draft of Nora Sand novel number three, which is also inspired by a real crime case from London, and I am starting to ponder what is next for Nora. On a more off-beat note, I have had the honour to be asked by the Danish Donald Duck magazine to write an outline for a crime story for them. If you ask my nieces it does not get cooler than this. Ever.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
Yes. I am taking part in a Nordic Noir event on the 22nd May at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. I also have a number of events coming up in September and October including Noirwich festival and an event at the Free Word Centre in Clerkenwell.
You can connect with Lone Theils on Twitter
You can purchase your copy of Fatal Crossing ~ Amazon UK
Huge thanks to Lone Theils for being on my blog today. Also thanks to the lovely Cassie L at Arcadia Books.
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