Gunnar Staalesen – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Gunnar Staalesen to the blog. Gunnar is the author of the Varg Veum series that includes, We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die. His latest novel, Wolves in the Dark, translated by Don Bartlett, is published by Orenda Books on 15 June 2017.

Gunnar kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Wolves in the Dark.

Wolves in the Dark is perhaps the most thriller-like of my Varg Veum novels. It opens with Varg being arrested by the police, because they have found illegal material (children pornography) on his computers. It is soon clear (I hope) that this material is put there by someone who is out after revenge on Varg for something in the past. From his prison cell he reflects about what he has done the last three years, but with some difficulties, since he was drunk most of the time. When he escapes from the prison he is both the hunted (by the police) and the hunter (after who his dangerous enemies are).

2. What inspired the book?

As usual, I was inspired by reports in the newspapers, this time about both men using children for pornographic reasons and the problem of hacking into someone else’s computers. In Bergen there is a huge investigation going on just now about similar cases, 11-12 years after the action in my book takes place, and this in a way documents the reality behind the theme.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I plan most of the action before I start writing, yes, but almost every time things changes during the writing, even if the main plan is still kept. The time it takes to complete the novel differs; this took around 9 months.

4. You have written over 20 novels. Is there still anything that surprises you about the novel writing process?

Well, I can still be surprised of how some of my characters react and what they do, but the writing process in itself does not surprise me much anymore. It is still a great, great pleasure to write a book.

5. Your series features PI Varg Veum. What do you find are the benefits and downsides to writing a series? Is the fear there that you know the characters too well or can they still surprise you?

The benefits are that I know him well and he does not surprise me much anymore, as he could do in the early books in the series. It is also good that the readers know him about as well as I myself do; they like him and want to hear more about him. I have never experienced any downsides to writing a series; I compare it with being a jazz musician: playing the same tune again and again, but always new and fresh because of the variations. 

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all? 

As a good Norwegian, I go out for a walk, and here in Bergen we have the nature and the mountains close by the city. In 10 minutes I can be walking (or running) into the Ice Valley, where a still unidentified woman was found dead almost fifty years ago… Or I go to a concert, a theatre performance or take the car out to our summer cabin, where I have a herb garden to tend to.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

A terrible question! Only one? I have a volume of Shakespeare’s Collected Works in my book shelves, so perhaps that would do the work? 

7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer? 

I think that was the question! I can’t imagine any question that I have wished and have not been asked during all these years as a writer.

About the Book:

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material … and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

About the author:

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

About the translator:

Don Bartlett lives with his family in a village in Norfolk. He completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Karl Ove Knausgård. He has previously translated The Consorts of Death and Cold Hearts in the Varg Veum series.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I just have a fascination with Varg Veum! I cannot wait to read this book! Great interview!


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. I hope you enjoy the book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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