The Hypnotist, the debut thriller from author Lars Kepler, is proof that there is plenty of room for even more great Swedish crime writers. Our July Whodunit? column declares it “the mystery buzz-book of summer 2011,” with multiple grisly murders and a haunting dip into the mind of the sole survivor.
Some readers may not be aware that Lars Kepler is actually a pen name for Swedish couple Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. The Ahndoril duo talk about their alter ego and share some insight on being not just one, but two writers.
Describe your book in one sentence.
A hypnotist can find hidden truths in your subconscious, but some truths ought to stay in the dark forever – they are too dangerous to reveal.
What inspired the two of you to write together as a team?
We’ve been married for a long time and we just love watching movies together, especially thrillers. One day we started to discuss if it was possible to transfer that exciting feeling into a book. We are writers in our own right, but we have not been able to write together. Every attempt has ended in great quarrels. That’s the reason why we had to create a totally new writer and the truth is that since we became Lars Kepler we haven’t had a single fight – just a wonderful and creative time.
How would you describe Lars Kepler as an author?
He is obsessed with unsolved crimes, mysteries, cold cases, crime scene investigations, forensic medicine and police tactics. Lars Kepler takes part of the Scandinavian tradition, but tries to add a high, cinematic tempo. He thinks that crime fiction is an optimistic genre because when you close the book the mysteries are solved, the perpetrators stopped and order is restored.
What is the best writing advice you've received?
The only way to write is to write and keep on writing. It will not be perfect immediately, but just give it time and continue to write and rewrite. Don’t stop before you get scared yourself, before you’re crying yourself, before your heart beats faster.
Of all the characters you've ever written, which is your favorite?
Rich and complex characters is probably the most important task you have as a writer of crime fiction, because no matter how interesting plot you may create the story will not be exiting if you don’t care about the characters. We really love our Detective Inspector. He’s so stubborn and lovely but he fights with his painful past. In the first two books Joona Linna is something of a mystery, but in the third you will learn all about his past and in the forth novel his mystery is the main plot. But besides of him, in The Hypnotist, maybe the terribly annoying and deeply disturbed Eva Blau is our favorite.
What kind of hypnotism research did you do for your book?
Alexander’s brother is a professional hypnotist and writes books on the subject – so we had a perfect source very close to us. Alexander has even been hypnotized himself.
What does Lars Kepler have in store for us next?
The second book is about a special kind of contracts. A Paganini contract. Do not ever sign such a contract, because you can’t break it even with your own death. The story begins one summer night. The dead body of a woman is found on board an abandoned pleasure boat drifting around in the Stockholm archipelago. Her lungs are filled with brackish water, but there are no traces of this water on her clothes or other parts of her body. She has drowned on board a floating boat.