Today I am joining the blog tour for The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl (Translated by Don Bartlett). It is an atmospheric thriller set in Oslo with a complex detective - Lena Stigersand - at the helm. It sounds like a gripping start of a new series, and the author has generously agreed to join the tour with a guest post about his writing and habits. Hope you enjoy!
I read somewhere that the Russian writer Tolstoy stressed the importance of equally dividing the hours of the day between reading, writing and manual work. At the end of the nineteenth century, his novel War and Peace was introduced in Norway as a serial in a newspaper. Charles Dickens also wrote serials for newspapers. Today many of the same novels written by Tolstoy and Dickens are adapted and become TV series. Maybe today's ideal way of dividing a day could be between watching TV series, keeping up on social medias and doing some writing (if you're still awake). The reading part and the manual work part are the losers in that competition. And that’s bad news for writers like myself.
My protagonist in my novel The Ice Swimmer – Lena – likes watching TV series. She is different from me in that respect. She, like most people, becomes addicted and cannot stop watching once she has started – and she loves it. Personally I find most TV series too easy to consume. They are like drugs. You sit in the sofa, get fed ten years of the lives of Pierre Bezukhov and Natasha Rustova (for example) in just six hours time – and then you get a hangover. The two characters don’t even look like I had pictured them in my mind when I read the book.
Today, it's almost impossible to spot books on buses, trains or trams. The writer sits on the bus with his old-fashioned book and a hope that all the other passengers are using reading apps on their mobile phones. Maybe some of them actually are. But I suspect social media might be the one in charge. Personally I still stick to old-fashioned paper-reading. Last summer I read War and Peace again – the physical book. I was tempted when I found a beautiful edition in a used bookshop. The fact that I already had three bound edition on my book shelves the shelves did not matter. In my opinion, there is a strong aesthetic approach to reading. Returning from the shop I followed Tolstoy's own prescription. I read four hours a day only and loved every minute of it. And I worked physically every day and I wrote my own things every day, too – which again confirmed that reading, like doing research is inspiring.
How is it possible for me to do manual labour for hours every day? The secret is that I live on a farm. It is a small farm, and it was guilt for a farming style that existed in Norway in the olden days. Many houses, many rooms with no obvious use any more, lots of expenses, lots of maintenance to be done and lots of good karma. The first farmers moved here 700 years ago, and they all worked hard. We carry on where the last generation stopped. That is how it works with farms. . We have some animals, not many, just around thirty sheep that give birth to around fifty-sixty lambs every spring. It starts soon – the 15th of April – and it is crazy dealing with over births in two weeks. My wife and I almost live in the barn for a fortnight. The reason is simple. We have so few animals that we know them very well. It gets personal. The mothers have names: Heidi, Grey Beauty, Nina and so on. We know them and they know us, and we would never fail to help our good friends in their most difficult time. That fortnight there is no time for TV and no time for writing, but lots of time for reading, as we await the babies. And perhaps that’s the very best balance of all.
The Oslo Detectives are back in another slice of gripping, dark Nordic Noir...
Introducing Detective Lena Stigersand Award-winning, critically acclaimed and international bestselling author.
When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder.
With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort.
Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable installment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.
One of the godfathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries and sold over two million copies. He lives in Oslo.
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