Interview with Hanna Lindberg

Hanna Lindberg

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Hanna Lindberg is a journalist and author from Stockholm, Sweden, born in 1981. Her first novel, STHLM Confidential is a contemporary thriller set among the glitzy gourmet restaurants and a magazine world in decline. The book is about the quest for celebrity and love in contemporary Stockholm.
Who can you really count on in a game without rules?
The paper pack immediately reached #1 in the Adlibris bestselling thriller chart when released in 2015.
The follow-up, The Dark Table, will be released at Norstedts in September 2017.

This is our interview with Hanna:
1. So here we are. I’ve been glad to have the chance for this interview also after being amazed by your last – and only one for the moment – novel. “Stockholm Confidential” has hit the shelves here in Italy beginning of January 2017, but – as I’ve seen – it has been written more than two years ago (maye three?). Do you think that are you ready for a new adventure for Solveig, or this would be just a standalone novel?

H.: No rest for the wicked. The follow-up of Stockholm Confidential will be released this year, in September. It’s a thriller set in the new culinary scene go Stockholm.
Life has finally fallen into place for Solveig when her boss, the highly respected journalist Vanja Stridh is shot down just in front of her eyes on the annual Gold Chef Gala. As the police is led on a false trail, Solveig is forced to embark on a dangerous hunt for the truth. Not only is she confronted with the dark forces lurking behind the scenes of Stockholm’s finest restaurants – but also with her own past.

2. Being the first interview probably you expect some of the classical “where you start from” or “why to write a book” etcetera. But we are Contorni di Noir and sometimes we play out of the beaten tracks. My next is more about the burst of novelty your novel (pun not intended) has brought to the Nordic scene. We are already accustomed to a sort of “Nordic path” in thrillers and noirs, so that it seemed Nordic writers have lost the capability to reinvent. Then, your book. I was really taken and I’d like your choice, away from what we normally read from Scandinavia. Do you also feel yourself away from the group in some sort?
H.: It was not my primarily intention to write something that was totally different from the genre just for the sake of it, or to reinvent the Nordic noir novel. Rather I set out to write the kind of novel I would like to read myself. You know the sort of book you just can’t but down, the sort of book that makes you leave a part early.
I’m glad you say Stockholm Confidential stands out, though. I think it’s about time for our famous middle aged, divorced, whisky drinking police officer to move over. Isn’t it?

3. I had the feeling that Solveig acts – during the entire novel – as a mean, more than as a complete character. To clarify: you have given here not a complete description and you have presented her already on the move since the very beginning of the book. She is working like a sort of Virgilio, presenting the reader the dark sides of Stockholm’s fashion lifestyle. Has my feeling right or no?
H.: I decided to remove a lot of Solveig’s backstory, to make my novel have a certain mode so to say. Sometimes I wonder if I went too far, but at the same time I often hear from readers that they like the book is written. The short chapters, the clean language. The not always so nice protagonists. In my next book, readers are invited to get to know Solveig better. I shed new light on her dark driving forses.

4. Do you believe that being a fashion victim is still something important for a Nordic? Companies like H&M have given the chance to a wider range of people to be “on fashion” without spending a fortune, but the “proper dress” is still something that makes a difference in everyday life?
H.: I’m not too much of a fashionista, I tend to threw myself in whatever I find in my closet as long as its something black. About having the right dress, I don’t know. What makes a difference is more having the right attitude I think. I’d like to believe that’s what has made things going for me. The same with Solveig Berg. She doesn’t always wear the right clothes, far from it. But when she has her heart set on something, she will make it happen. She will go there.

5. From your flow and the way you present your city your journalist background comes out quite immediate. The good thing seems that you are able to avoid to bee too didactic and provide the right level of involvement. Did you find it difficult at the beginning?
H.: As a journalist I’m used to have limited space, being forced to write in an efficient way. Especielly if we’re talking print papers. Now with the internet it’s not that strict anymore. Yet i still have it in me, like ok, here’s the deal. Not talking around it so much. Many say it’s hard to write short, for me its more the opposite. I have to put an effort to not be too breif.

6. Someone, I’ve read, is comparing you to the well-known Stieg Larsson. Personally I can’t recap in your style something that could be similar thankfully. Having read a lot of Scandinavian noir I’ve found him overrated and I always found much better examples of good plot and thrilling situations in other authors. Apart from this, did you think a Nordic writer has to pay a sort of fee to Larsson and he’s works?
H.: I think Stieg Larsson has done a lot for the Nordic genre. When Män som hatar kvinnor (Dont know the Italian Title, His first novel in the Millennium-series) was published in 2005, Lisbeth Salander broke as a bomb. She was a character never before seen in a Scandianvian thriller. She really made a mark, and continues to do so. I would say Solveig Berg is something like her glamourus bad ass little sister.

7. The rhythm of your novel is really fast paced, but what I liked most were the sudden changes and events. Apart a natural talent, who are the writers you have to debt most?
H.: Jens Lapidus fast phase writing style has inspired me, and the way he introduced readers to a hidden world. I also like the style of Lars Kepler and Gillian Flynn with her sudden twists and the way that her characters are built. And I’m not sure Solveig Berg would have been what she is if it wasn’t for Lisbeth Salander. She also has a bit of Liza Marklunds protagonist Annika Bengtzon in her. The hell bent-ness, the guts. And the tendency to not always make the right decisions.

8. A couple of years ago I had the chance to interview Camilla Lackberg. One of the things we talked about – and it was really fun – were some of the most unusual episodes happens when promoting, when you are still someone “unknown”, so I kept in passing this question to all the authors I met. Which are, if any, your favourite odd moments of your beginnings?
H.: I’m still in the beginning of my path so Im amazed and surprised by odd moments happening pretty much all the time. It’s a whole new world unfolding for me, being an author. Today when a visited my dentist he suddenly said: ”Oh, I read your book. Good one” in the middle of the examination. He’s a really kind and professional person, but happened to have the same name as one of the bad guys in my next novel. I might have to change that now…

9. Back to the novel, a simple and straight question: do the characters have a real life inspiration? To clarifiy: Solveig, Lenny and the others, do they come from people you have met or from suggestion of real existing people?
H.: Most of my characters are inspired by real people, and some of the events I describe in the book has actually occurred to. I often get the question if Solveig Berg is my alter ego. We do have some things in common. She’s very determined and a bit restless as I am. We share the same occupation and hair color too. But Solveig is a bit younger than me, and a bit more daring and immoral. And much more fun to read about.

10. Last, for now. When I was completing your book revision I found myself puzzled to try to find a genre for your novel. I’m not a huge fan of reduce a book just to a genre, but with your was not so easy. We can call it a thriller, sometimes, or a psychological crime novel somewhere else. If someone would ask, which kind of genre you had in mind when started to write it, if any?
H.: I used to think of it as a crime novel, but due to the absence of the traditional police inspectors, I’d say it’s a thriller.

Interview by Michele Finelli