Christer Tholin - Inspired by Swedish Crime Fiction
Christer Tholin has been a big fan of crime stories for many years, and read every Swedish crime series he could get his hands on. His first novel, Vanished?, was born from the desire to write his own crime novel with his characters acting in Sweden. The plot brewed in his mind for a while until, in 2015, he finally had the time to make this happen. One book turned into an entire series, and as our Author of the Day, Tholin tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Stockholm Sleuth Series is about.
The two main figures are detectives Lars and Elin. They are based in Stockholm, but for most of their cases have to travel across the country. Lars is a former policeman and has a lot of experience while Elin at the start of the series is still working as a secretary with a strong wish to become a real detective.
Lars has a family with two daughters but there are problems on the horizon with his marriage. Elin, on the other hand, is in a lesbian relationship with her girlfriend, Maja.
What inspired you to start this series? Did you plan from the start to make it into a series?
I am a great fan of crime literature and had planned for quite some time to write ONE book. But while I was writing it, I realized that I started to like my characters and wanted to develop them. After the publication of the first book, my readers insisted that they would like to read more about the two detectives. So I decided to continue…..
Why Swedish crime-fiction? What drew you to the genre?
I have been living in Sweden for a long time and they have a tradition of crime series, e.g. the Kurt Wallander series of Henning Mankell. I read a lot of these novels and just loved them.
Tell us more about the first book in the series, Vanished. What is it about?
It starts with Martin, a lawyer from Berlin, Germany, who wants to have a relaxing holiday in Southern Sweden, in the middle of the forest. He needs to do some thinking because he just had his divorce confirmed after a year of separation. He runs into an attractive Swedish woman, Liv, and is very much attracted by her. They meet again and arrange to have coffee at her house. But when Martin gets there, Liv is nowhere to be seen, she has mysteriously vanished. Since the police don’t take it seriously, he decides to go and look for her. He soon realizes that he needs help in this, for him foreign country, and this is how the reader is introduced to Lars and Elin. They agree to help him in this case and it leads to a hunt across Sweden.
What makes Elin and Lars such a great team?
They have very different personalities and Elin is ten years younger than Lars. But they respect each other and are very loyal to each other. They know that they can count on the help of their colleagues.
What fascinates you about the Swedish landscape?
I particularly like the Stockholm archipelago – around 30000 islands, small and big, spread out in the Baltic Sea. It is a fascinating mix of water, rocks, trees, and attractive houses.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am a natural scientist by training and have worked as a manager leading many employees.
How much of your own experiences have you written into this story?
I think every author will use his or her own experiences in their work, so do I. But none of the characters is anything like me, and I do a lot of research when it comes to locations and subjects. Doing this, the novels go beyond my own experience.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Except for the cover work, the proof-reading, and the translations, I do everything myself. And there are certain parts of the publishing work which are really tedious, e.g. formatting. It takes a lot of time and an eye for detail.
When working on a novel, how do you immerse yourself in the main characters' lives? Do you observe people in a certain culture, or do you try to walk in their shoes?
I am quite good at understanding people and what drives them. So, I develop a certain picture of a character and then use this for all scenes. One piece of feedback that I get pretty often is that my characters are very relatable and that readers feel they are real. This is exactly what I want to achieve.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
I do not force things. Sometimes I need time to do research or to plan the plot, sometimes I need to think, how to continue the story or how to solve certain issues. But then the days come where I exactly know what is going to happen and then it is a lot of fast typing.
Are all the twists and turns in your novels planned, or does some of it just "happen" while you are writing?
Most of it actually just happens, some of it is planned from the beginning.
What are you working on right now?
I have started the fifth book of the series: “Acquittal?”. It is about a man who is in prison for murder, but still claims to be innocent. Las and Elin are engaged to find proof that he is right. The story takes place in the North of Sweden.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
On my webpage (including a blog): www.christertholin.one and on facebook: @christer.tholin.one and @Stockholm.Sleuth