Inger Wolf - Thrillers set in a Small Danish Community
Inger Wolf is an International Bestselling Danish mystery and thriller writer. Her first mystery novel, Dark September, for which she was awarded the Danish Crime Academy's debut prize, was published in 2006. Since then, her bestselling books have been translated into several languages. She loves to travel and get inspiration to her books from all over the world, but lives in the outskirts of the town of Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, close to the forest and the sea. As our Author of the Day, Wolf tells us all about her latest thriller, Frost and Ashes.
Please give us a short introduction to what Frost and Ashes is about.
Frost and Ashes takes place in small town in Denmark, where an 8-year-old boy called Lukas is found dead in a stream during a snowstorm. He has been strangled with a fishing line and has severe burn marks on his hands. The parents are immediately suspects, but it soon turns out there are others who could seemingly have a motive to kill the boy. My protagonist, police inspector Daniel Trokic, has to solve the murder case, before the killer strikes again, and he makes a horrible discovery when he finds a link to the past. Frost and Ashes is also a portrait of a small community and all the darkness beneath the surface.
What inspired you to use the death of an 8 year old boy as the catalyst of your story?
I always say that this book is a reflection of my worst nightmare. My daughter Cecilie was the same age as Lukas when I started writing the book, and as any parent I was always worried that something bad would happen to her. We lived very close to a lake, and one day when it was frozen, Cecilie said “What if there’s a dead body lying underneath the ice?” That got my imagination going. I wanted to find out who could possibly do something like that. And why?
The plot also dealt with child abuse and bullying. Why did you find these topics important to explore?
Because they affect a lot of children, and the consequences of both bullying and child abuse can have a severe impact on somebody's life. Also, I wanted to show that the perpetrator of a serious crime is very often a victim himself. Or herself.
Why did you pick a small, tight knit Danish community as the backdrop for this book?
I like writing about small communities because I grew up in a place like that. In my town, things looked neat and quiet on the outside, but beneath the surface, there were murders, violence, and drugs. Maybe we all know a place like that? On top of that, the village of Mårslet is a place that I know quite well. It is close to where I live, and it is a very idyllic and beautiful place which makes a great contrast to the evil deeds that take place in the book.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I have hyperfocus which is great because it makes me able to dig very deep into research topics. I get very occupied with certain subjects and very often find new information that is of relevance to my books. Unfortunately, this hyperfocus will also have me procrastinating for hours over tiny details.
Was there a single defining moment or event where you suddenly thought, 'Now I'm an Author,' as in—this is now my career?"
Not particularly, but after completing Frost and Ashes I remember thinking 'Okay, the first two books could have been luck, but this is the third book, so maybe I actually am a writer now'.
Tell us more about Daniel Trokic - what makes him tick?
Daniel hates injustice more than anything, and he is a very committed and stubborn investigator. He lives by himself, and he is very reserved as a person. Actually, he has a lot of features from myself. He lives in my old house in my old neighborhood, he has my old cat and listens to some of the rock bands I used to listen to. I made him very good company because I knew I had to be with him for many years.
What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
First and foremost a thrilling reading experience, and secondly that we always have to look out for our children. Especially, when it comes to the internet.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
I have a very strict schedule that I never follow J. I try to write a certain amount of words every day, but very often I'm distracted by all kinds of things.
Talk to us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write early in the morning, or through the night? Pen or laptop?
Very often I write in the afternoon and late in the evening to make up for not writing enough during the day. I always write on my MacBook. My writing process is very chaotic as I do not necessarily write the book in chronological order. Very often I start writing one book and end up with a completely different one.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
Finding a police officer who was trained in hunting predators on the internet. These criminals are very sophisticated when it comes to encrypting and removing their online traces, and I needed to know how the police were doing their investigations within this field. I finally found a man with the Danish National Police who was awarded a prize by the FBI for his work, and who was willing to tell me about it.
How do you force yourself to finish what you're doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?
If the book is nagging me, I will leave it for a day, binge a tv series or some documentaries, and then get on with it. I know that my editor and the readers are waiting for the book to be finished, and I usually want to finish what I started before continuing with another book.
What are you working on right now?
I'm writing the second book in another series with a female protagonist who is a detective trained in fire forensics. This is about terrorism and a bit more like a political thriller. I hope this series will be available in English one day too.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
You can follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ingerwolfauthor/) where I post information in English about new releases. I also have an Instagram profile (https://www.instagram.com/ingerwolf/) which unfortunately is not in English, but there are lots of pictures from my everyday life, travel and work.
Thanks for your time!