If you are a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction, then you need to know about Carin Gerhardsen if you haven’t already read her books. Her crime novels are set in Hammarby, in the southern parts of Stockholm and follow Detective Inspector Conny Sjöberg and her team in investigating some disturbing crimes
Pepparkakshuset (The Gingerbread House) and Mamma, pappa, barn (Cinderella) and Vyssan lull (The Last Lullaby) are the first three in the series and Carin today has invited us to chat about her books with her, plus cake of course. Swedish gingerbread biscuits too….should I be worried?
Hi Carin. We just have to get chatting about your crime books set in Hammarby. Stockholm is such a pretty place but it seems to be the perfect backdrop for some grisly goings on!
The settings used in your book are very pretty places in Sweden. Why did you want to have a range of settings both inside and out of Stockholm city?
I set the entire series in the southern part of central Stockholm and a bunch of suburbs south of the city. I invented that precinct myself, in order not to annoy any existing precinct and its police officers. It gives me the latitude to follow my own ideas on how the police officers should work methodology wise. Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, quite a big city with all its sounds and smells, skyscrapers, suburb ghettos for the poor, areas with detached houses for the wealthy. Stockholm is surrounded by water, forests and fields, everything I could possibly have use for in my novels.
In the Gingerbread House, was this house inspired by anywhere in particular in Katrineholm? Where did the idea for such a house come from?
The house, as it is described in the novel, was in fact – in every way – the preschool where I spent my sixth year on earth. Most of the harassment scenes in the book are my own experiences. My publisher thought that the opening scene was a little too much, so I was obliged to cut the violence down a bit. But it is a scene from my own life. I was there, so I know what children are prepared to do to each other.
Christmas adds another nice, idyllic dimension to the story before the terror is revealed. What is your favourite part of a Swedish Christmas?
The smörgåsbord! I love the Christmas lunch with this huge table filled with Swedish specialities such as ham, sausages, pâtés, different kinds of herring, ox-tongue, gravlax, pies, cheese and… Yeah, you name it.
Some events take place on the metro – Stockholm metro is famous for its beauty and creativity. Which station is your favourite that people should visit?
My favourite is the Karlaplan station, with its almost one hundred meters long photo montage by Larseric Vänerlöf. It makes me laugh, and I love it.
Cinderella Girl captures the isolation of the fairytale and the name of the cruise ship which travels between Sweden and Finland. What aspects of this – isolation and claustrophobia- did you want to evoke in the novel?
There are two sisters growing up in misery surrounded by alcoholics, there is a young man who’s held captive by his abusive father, there is a little girl waking up one morning only to find that she’s been abandoned by her family in a locked apartment. So I’d say Cinderella Girl is all about different aspects of isolation.
With many thanks to Carin for an insight into the dark side of Sweden and a great Swedish crime series that we booktrailers recommend!
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