‘The Odense Series’ title hints towards not only the setting (although this is just in part) but also to an incredibly celebrated sub-genre in crime fiction, Nordic Noir. We have also blended this with Brit Crime as they work very well together, although this is a relatively new concept. Odense is a Nordic city in a Nordic country and is a place entwined in Nordic history; from Odin - Norse Mythology to Hans Christian Andersen - celebrated author.
Emma and I both have a long love affair with all things Nordic so it was only natural that when we first started discussing our novel we would look towards a Nordic country. We have both over the last few years written, reviewed and spoken about Nordic authors, films, artists, and events. Odense felt right, it was a place that oozed literature to us, being HCA's birthplace. We felt this would be a good twist to filter through our book 'A Presence of Absence'. I have Danish family and often quietly study our cultural differences, this again we felt could be an important thread to the book. Emma is Australian but is married to a Norwegian and lives in Bergen. Inside knowledge of Nordic behaviour has given our book, as non-Nordic writers, some credibility, we think.
But we wanted a balance; we wanted another dimension to lead the way in a slightly different direction to a lot of Nordic Noir books out there, so we added Brit crime. This wasn't just a flippant move but something that we felt would work together nicely. The two go hand in hand and balance each other out, giving the reader a slightly gentler Nordic crime book and because of the huge popularity of Nordic Noir with the British, having a British dimension means we can see how we would cope living and working side by side with our Nordic neighbours. So, yes we were inspired by the setting. Who wouldn't be? stark, moody, isolated, cold.....a great place for a murder....now just place a very British detective into the middle of this backdrop and its inhabitants and see what happens.
Having worked with and speaking with various Nordic authors over the years we wanted to take the information they had given us. Nordic countries on a whole tend to deal with less crime than other countries do (but we watch a different Nordic crime thriller each week, we thought).
"Ah no"! they said, "this is why we can write crime so well. Because for us it's more alien so we have to really dig deep into our imaginations and pull out intricate crimes, twists and the unimaginable. We are just as interested in human nature and how we as humans deal with the unthinkable because as Nordic people we don't have to think about crime too often".
We got that. We both feel a larger sense of safety when we have been in the Nordic countries. So we would have to dig deep down to and analysis the human psyche and from this point led our storyline of grief and how we deal with it and how we don't. Grief plays a large part in our first book 'A Presence of Absence'.
Nordic authors who have played this out for us and whom we have enjoyed reading are Jussi Adler-Olsen, Karin Fossum, Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indridason, to name but a very select few.
We want our readers to become as involved in our characters as we have. Feel for them, pity them, celebrate when they succeed.
'The Odense Series' is going to be a series that is current and relevant and will include a readership that maybe hasn't ventured into Nordic Noir before.
British detective investigates the Noir in Nordic life
Guest post by Sarah Surgey
About the Authors:
The Odense Series is a new Nordic Noir/Brit Crime series that blends humanist stories and family drama with gritty crime in the central Danish city Odense.
Sarah Surgey is a 36 year old British feature writer for various magazines. She lives in the UK with her husband and 4 daughters.
She has had an interest in all things Nordic for many years and has written about many genres within this subject for publication. Although British, she has Danish family and enjoys exploring Denmark and its culture whenever the opportunity arrives.
Sarah was brought up with crime books and inevitably has always had crime story scenarios going around inside her head. After interviewing many famous authors for different magazines within the Nordic literary circle and always knowing the answer to her question of “why did you start writing?” she felt now was her time to get her stories out there, for people to read!
Emma Vestrheim (left) is the owner and editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia, a Nordic film and television journal that analyses popular Nordic titles. Part of her work includes working with directors, actors and film-makers, and her numerous interviews with the biggest names in Nordic film and television have given her a privileged access to what makes Nordic narratives so successful. Cinema Scandinavia publishes bi-monthly and is available in major Nordic film libraries.
Emma grew up in Australia, and completed her degree in film and television in Melbourne. After finishing her studies she moved to Norway to pursue her interest in all things Nordic; not just film – Emma has fallen in love with the Scandinavian way of living (‘hygge’), modern Nordic cuisine, and the beautiful mountains and fjords of Western Norway, where she currently resides.