Thursday, April 5, 2012

Barry Forshaw

Barry Forshaw is the author of, most recently, Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction.

From his Q & A with Ali Karim for The Rap Sheet:

Ali Karim: Tell us how you came to write Death in a Cold Climate.

Barry Forshaw: I was keen to write about the amazing explosion of interest in Scandinavian crime fiction (both on the page and on the screen) and the fact that the British and Americans are becoming aware of the fact that the Scandinavian countries have their own very individual identities--this is reflected in the novels of the best writers. When I was writing Death in a Cold Climate, Norwegian Anne Holt said to me: “If you are visiting a new country it should be a crime novel from that country you read before you leave on your trip--you will learn more than any travel guide can tell you.” I try very hard to capture the individual identities of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland--and if I’ve managed to make even the Scandinavians look at their neighboring countries afresh, I regard that as a little added value for the book.

AK: Death in a Cold Climate is a fascinating overview of the Nordic countries’ new-found fame when it comes to crime fiction. I was particularly delighted to see you explore the pre-Henning Mankell, pre-Stieg Larsson era of Scandinavian/Nordic mystery writing. How important were the roots of this subgenre?

BF: The roots--or the inspiration for the whole genre--could, frankly, be summed up in the names of two writers (although vintage writers such as Maria Lang should not be overlooked): the massively influential Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. [Their] Martin Beck novels [were] name-checked again and again by so many Nordic crime writers I spoke to as a key influence. Interestingly enough, statistically speaking, a certain British writer turned up frequently as another influence--not Agatha Christie, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue