Swedish crime writer Camilla Lackberg, a headline guest at the Sydney Writers Festival, acknowledges she has benefitted from the global obsession with Nordic murder mysteries but says she has her own winning formula.
The protagonists in her eight murder thrillers, which have sold 12 million books worldwide, are crime writer Erica and policeman Patric. Their ordinary lives reflect the author’s own.
“I do lend a lot of my own personal life because I found out early on that I write so much better if I had experience myself and [it] makes the reader feel there’s an authenticity in what I write,” she told the ABC.
“I think a huge part of the success of my books [is] that people all over the world are fascinated and surprised that they can relate their own lives to this very typical Swedish couple.
“I think I’ve struck a chord that is more human than Swedish or Scandinavian.”
Lackberg says her books are not as dark or political as those of Stieg Larsson, of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fame, but that his work broke down language barriers and encouraged people to read her mysteries.
The 39-year-old now outsells Larsson in Sweden. The former economist came to writing by chance when she was given a creative writing course as a Christmas gift.
But while she has never experienced murder firsthand, she believes she is quite capable of being a killer.
“If someone would threaten the life of me or my children I would probably absolutely be able to kill someone. So I believe we all have it in us,” she said.
Like her characters, Lackberg has three young children. She is also twice divorced but has promised readers her characters will not follow her example.
“I’ve actually promised the Swedish audience that they (her characters) will never divorce so I have to stick to that,” she said.
Her latest novel, Buried Angels, has just been published in Australia and book number nine is in the pipeline, with Erica and Patric’s marriage intact and murders galore.