Today I’m pleased to welcome Erik Axl Sund to the blog. Erik is the pseudonym of Jerker Erikson and Hakan Axlander Sundquist. Their novel The Crow Girl was published on 6 April 2017 by Vintage and translated by Neil Smith.
They kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Crow Girl.
Erik Axl Sund: In Stockholm, present time, the police are struggling with solving the murders on several young boys. All of them are refugees, orphans and missed by no-one.
At the same time a psychotherapist are working with two clients that are both suffering with a post traumatic stress syndrome. One young boy who is a former child soldier, and a woman who has had a traumatic childhood.
The story goes back in time and the whole picture will be revealed in the end.
It´s a dark story dealing with the question: “How much can a human suffer before they become a monster?”
2. What inspired the story?
Erik Axl Sund: Mainly real life. The world is a dark place. But of course personal experiences provided the grounding for the story too.
We wanted to write about topics that concerned us, and we wanted to do it in a way that should interest as many people as possible.
3. Erik Axl Sund is a pseudonym for Jerker Erikson and Hakan Axlander Sundquist. How do you deal with co-writing a novel? Do you each take a paragraph, or sound ideas out with each other? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
Erik Axl Sund: Prior to our novels we were writing music in a band together. One of us would come up with an idea – like a nice guitar riff – and then we’d be jamming, testing and disagreeing. In the beginning we even fist fighted.
Håkan uses red font and Jerker a blue. We write in the same document, editing each other’s texts. As is the case when you’re in a band – not everyone can be the lead singer.
We are each other’s editors and critics (both positive and negative).
The process can sometimes go very quick. The first draft of The Crow Girl took about four months. But right now it´s a bit harder.
4. The Crow Girl was originally published in Sweden as a trilogy but is now printed in English as complete novel. Did the stories have to go through many stages to become one book? What are the benefits of having the complete story all in one volume?
Erik Axl Sund: In fact it was one book from the beginning. But our publisher thought it would be difficult to have a successful debut with a 1000 pages brick of a book. So he asked us to divide the novel into three.
To make it into one volume (again) we had to delete 5000 “unnecessary” word and also take out some sections that looked at Swedish internal politics.
The benefit of having the book made into one novel again is that the book is more pacey and dense.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Erik Axl Sund: We have an art gallery in the central of Stockholm that takes a lot of time and we also run a record label (we’ve released around 10 records in the last 2 years).
Jerker likes to sculpture in clay when he relaxes and Håkan spends time in his family’s summerhouse.
Together we watch football. We have season tickets for the games for our favorite team.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Jerker: The Master and Margarita by Michail Bulgakov.
Håkan: The Clown by Heinrich Böll.
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&A’s you may have done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Erik Axl Sund: None has ever asked us “During all the Q&A’s you may have done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?” We think it´s a pretty good question, and we are also rather satisfied with our answer.
About the book:
“The international thriller sensation
It starts with just one body – the hands bound, the skin covered in marks.
Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg is determined to find out who is responsible, despite opposition from her superiors. When two more bodies are discovered, it becomes clear that she is hunting a serial killer.
With her career on the line, Kihlberg turns to psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund. Together, they expose a chain of shocking events that began decades ago – but will it lead them to the murderer before someone else dies?”
Read more on the Vintage website.