Na mijn enthousiasme over het boek Meesterwerk van Geir Tangen en de goede ontvangst van zijn debuut in Nederland wilde ik heel graag een interview met hem doen. Dus trok ik de stoute schoenen aan en vroeg hem of hij tijd had om mijn vragen te beantwoorden.
En hier is dan ook mijn interview met Geir Tangen.
Thanks very much for agreeing to this interview. I was very enthusiastic about your book on my blog and it made my readers curious about you and “Het Meesterwerk“ (the Dutch title of the book).
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the book? I am 48 years old, a teacher and a writer. But who am I actually? As I said in a former interview this week I might say that I am a dreamer who never grew up. In my head I am still this crazy teenager who thinks that he can manage everything if I put my mind to it. I still think that I can be a pop star, an olympic athlet or … a famous crime author. There are no borders, and no strings that is holding me. But of course … These dreams are only in my childish head when I am all alone in my car or have the appartement all by myself. In real life I am pretty boring, actually. A father and a grandfather, a husband and a friend. A teacher and a writer.
I started out writing “Maestro” (Het Meesterwerk) in 2010, but the story that I wrote until the summer of 2012 were rubbish, actually. I wrote without a plan, and suddenly I understood that I didnt even know how it all would come together in the end, and I didnt belive a word of the story myself, so I just deleted it. (!) Then … The same day, I drove my kid Daniel to his mother, and I heard a Norwegian song on the radio called “Maestro”. I listened to the lyrics for the first time, stopped the car, had a cigarette – and understood that the lyrics just gave me a fantastic crime fiction story that I wanted to write. So I did 🙂 It took my 3,5 years from the first word on the screen until it was published in january 2016. I was stunned by the idea of making a thriller that at the same time was a tribute to the crime fiction genre, and this story had a lot of opportunities to do just that. Maestro is ment to be a chocking nerve-wracking thriller, but at the same time a joyful ride were the author playes with the reader.
I have some short questions for you to get to know you a bit more. And of course the answers can be short also.
For your own reading do you prefer ebooks or paper books? Until this winter I have read all my books in paper. You know that feeling of having a book in my hand, turning the pages, feeling the paper through my fingers … It is magic! But at Christmas my wife gave me a Kindle, and now … Well, I don’t go anywhere without it. I can read when it is dark in the bedroom or when the sun is shining. I love the little bastard
What do you think about trailers for books? I have never thought about it, actually. But of course, I felt proud when I saw the trailer for my second book on TV. I think that in our time advertising is more important for an author than it was 20 years ago. Without banners, trailers, TV commercials or radio spots no one seems to know that you have written a new book, and the bookstores just follow the best-seller list. So I guess that book trailers is something we really need in 2018.
Do you write in silence or do you have music on? Ha ha … Great question! I NEED silence. When I wrote “Maestro” I stood up at 05.00 in the morning for a while just to have the house all by myself, and no one who disturbed the genius writer. I almost killed our cat for snoring at one point. But I am lucky … My wife is an author as well, so there is plenty of room for silence in our new apartment.
Pen, typewriter or computer? I am a digital writer. For me it is always the computer. I use it not only for writing, but as a tool in planning the book as well. Microsoft OneNote is the perfect tool for notes and planning a project like a book. And of course, I use the internet a lot doing my research.
What is your favorite book ever? In the crime fiction genre: Stieg Larsson – The girl with the dragoon tattoo. I have never – ever – read a book that grabbed my head and crushed it to the wall as this one did. In my third book “Dead men dancing” I actually have a whole scene dedicated to this novel. A tribute to a beloved author and the best reading experience I ever had. As a kid I loved the great stories that Jules Verne wrote, and in my youth, I still remember reading everything that Alistar McClean wrote.
Wine or beer? For a romantic meal: wine, For everything else: BEER!
What is your favorite childhood book? Oh … I just said didn`t I …? Jules Verne: The mysterious island. But … I read every single book of the Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon as well. I still cherish these books.
Which author (alive or dead) would you like to meet? As I said earlier … Stieg Larsson. But I have not had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Jo Nesbo yet, and that is still a dream for me.
Which authors inspired you? Many … But you will find most of them in “Maestro”. Great nordic noir-writers as Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Gunnar Staalesen, Anne Holt. But just as important for me is Alistar McClean, Desmond Bagley, Jan Guillio and Ken Follett.
Your favorite movie Ha ha … Oh my God, I will get bullied after saying this, but I really love “Hangover”. The first one. I laughed so loudly that I almost got carried out of the cinema by the guards. It is a commercial, empty headed comedy … But hey … I have seen the film eight times, and I still laugh so hard that it hurts. Of TV-series I have to say that “The bridge” has been a big inspiration for me.
Cat or dog? I am, and always will be, a cat-person. I love cats and I miss having one. Since my wife and I both have managed to have a break-through as authors we don`t have time to take care of pets.
Are you going on a world tour to promote your book? And if so will you visit Holland? I have been on a tour in Denmark and Spain, and I would love to come to Holland as well, but I don`t think that House of Books have any plans for me there yet. I guess they will wait and see if the book becomes a success or not.
The book is sold to more than 15 countries. Were you involved with all the covers and titles? Which covers are your favorite? I am not involved, but I always approve the titles and the covers. Actually, the dutch cover is the one I love the most It is fantastic! But I also am very fund of the American cover which I have attached to this mail.
Your book is a tribute to the Scandinavian thriller. What draws you to this genre? And what inspired you to write a tribute? The love of the Nordic thrillers has been there since I first read a Norwegian crime fiction author named Fredrik Skagen in the mid-eightees. As I said I have read mostly international thriller-authors like McClean and Bagley before, but when I discovered Skagen I understood that there was a whole world of Scandinavian authors as well, writing stories from Norway, Sweden an Denmark. I looked them up, and loved the books. Gunnar Staalesen, Jan Guillio, Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Henning Mankell … and later on I read the Norwegian queens of Scandinavian crime as Anne Holt, Karin Fossum and Unni Lindell.
I am fond of stories that manage to mix the dark minds and the dark deeds with the Scandinavian way of living and thinking. No heroes with swelling muscles and catchy one-liners beating the crooks with their bare hands. No, instead we have these calm investigators with a real life who use their mind solving the mysteries. And then of course you have the angle of the murderer describing why crimes like this can happen. It makes the stories more interesting and exciting.
The book is the first part of a trilogy. Can you describe the trilogy using only 5 keywords? A dark, intense rollercoaster with unexpected twists
When will part 3 be released? I have just delivered part 3 to the publisher, and it will be released here in Norway during the fall of 2018.
Will that really be the end of the story’s about Viljar and Lotte? Yes, it will. I have made scrambled eggs of them both during these three books, and I cant see them standing on their feet again after this … BUT, there is an opening that makes it possible if I find it necessary.
Did you plot the whole storyline of Viljar and Lotte for the 3 books before writing? No, I did`nt. I wrote “Maestro” without thinking of writing a sequel, but then my agent sold the rights for a second book to 15 countries, and a third book for two countries (Holland and Norway), so I had to sit down and think it all through. Then I planned number two (Heartbreaker), and after that I saw how the third book (Dead men dancing) had to end.
Why did you choose your hometown as setting for the book? Please tell us some nice things and places about Haugesund. It is a good writing-tip to write from an environment that you know very well. It is easier to make it believable and real when you know everything that is to know about the place. And, we didn’t have any crime fiction heroes from Haugesund. Every Norwegian city should have one, so I decided to do the job. Haugesund is the most beautiful city in the world when the sun is shining during the summer. The problem is that it almost never does. It is a rainy and windy town at the west coast of Norway. Not far from Bergen and Stavanger. We have everything the Norwegian nature can offer. The fjords and the mountains, the north sea, islands and it is the navel of the historic Viking kings.
When your book was released, were you very nervous about the reviews? And what was the best / most heartwarming comment? Nervous is just the first letter … I was a wreck, because I never thought that my novel would reach the newspaper reviews. But it happened, and I cant even describe the feeling when the largest newspaper in Norway gave it five out of six stars from Ingvar Ambjørnsen. One of the greatest authors in Norwegian crime fiction history. A guru, you might as well say. “Geir Tangen really knows crime” he said … The best feeling ever …
About the characters: Can you describe Viljar and Lotte in 5 keywords? Viljar: Nerve wreck. Warm-hearted. A stayer. Naive. Leisurely. Lotte: Ambitious. Compulsive. Intelligent. Rule-bounded. Big sense of justice.
What are the best and the worst characteristics from Viljar and Lotte? Oh … That is a difficult question. I love both the up and the down sides of them both. They have both this sense of justice that is very important for me, and for the choices they take during these three books. I like the childish and simple humor that Viljar has. His oblique glance to the world and the people he meet. He finds a new friend in “Jossen” in the second book, and the dialogues between them are hilarious. Lotte starts out as a pretty cold hearted business woman, but ends up as the opposite. I like that she develops as a character, and become closer to Viljar during the three books.
Name 3 special characters in the book you liked writing about (besides Viljar and Lotte) In Maestro? I love Viljars neighbor, the lady who keeps an eye with everything that goes on in the block were he lives. She has no name, but she appears in all three books. A side-kick that I love writing. Then we have the culture-journalist Henrik Thomsen. He is a copy of a real character with all his stupid nicknames to everyone he meets, and with an ego that is even bigger than his body-weight. (Witch is enormous) At last I like to mention Lottes sister, Anne. She presents a believable face to all the junkies that we sadly have in our hometown.
If the books were to be adapted to a Scandinavian tv-serie, who would you want to play Viljar and Lotte? I use photos of celebrities when I create my characters, and for Viljar I used an Norwegian actor named Kristoffer Joner, and of course it would be a dream for me seeing him play Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson. A little harder picking Lotte, but I have a favorite Norwegian actor in Charlotte Frogner. She would do a great job.
Kristoffer Joner as Viljar???
Charlotte Frogner as Lotte?
If there would be a Hollywood movie of the book which actor and actress would you choose for Viljar and Lotte? Oh my God … That would be a real out-of-myself experience! Well, here it is: Ryan Gosling from “La-la Land” and “Blade Runner 2049” would be the perfect Viljar Ravn Gudmundsson. Lotte Skeisvoll has a kind of depth to her character that needs someone like Anne Hathaway, I think …
Which character is your favorite and why? My favorite actually doesn’t turn up until the second book. “Jossen” an ex-junkie in a wheel cheer with a great sense of humor. I love him! In “Maestro” I really am fund of the main character in the side-story, “Jonas”. A homosexual teenager growing up in a christian family.
Which character was the hardest to write about? The same as above. Jonas was hard, because I had to get into the mind of a homosexual teenager, and give him a realistic point of view. Writing a homo-erotic love scene was really difficult at the time, but I think I managed OK, and I am proud of how Jonas and Frederics stories became in the end.
Are you currently thinking about or already writing a new book, and if so can you tell us something about it? I delivered the manuscript to book 3 “Dead men dancing” on Thursday, so no … I haven’t thought it through yet, but it will be more crime fiction from my pen in the future. That much I can promise.
Did the big success of the book change your life? And where do you see yourself in 10 years? Yes, of course it has changed our lives. We both (my wife and I) has had a break-through as authors, and we can live of writing if we want to now. Still we both keep on to our jobs as teachers, but for how long …? Well, we just have to wait and see. In ten years from now I see myself as a full-time crime fiction author. Writing is my life, and I love each second of it. In my dreams someone has made my books into films or TV-series, but the most important thing for me is that my wife and I still has the thrill of writing, and the readers a thrill of reading it.
Thank you so much for the interview.
Greetings from Connie Flipse / Connie’s Boekenblog.