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Hello, Mr. Rambe, thank you for taking time for an interview. Originally you work as a lawyer, how did it happen that you are writing books now?

I have always enjoyed writing, ever since high school and even before. Somehow my fictional writing had to give room for university studies, work and then family life. It is not coincidence that I choose to specialise on contracts and business law where I found a certain outlet for my creativity. But the dream of writing fiction was always there. It was when we, my family and I moved to the small town of Strängnäs that I finally found the time and inspiration to start writing again. Now it is an essential part of my life.


Where did you get the idea for your first novel “The clue on the pier”? Is there any real incident which the story is based on?

I was much influenced by the town of Strängnäs and the things going on there. The story is purely fictional, but at the same time firmly based in the actual surroundings and with a political and historical backdrop that is real.


“The clue on the pier” has a very complex plot placed in different periods and with a lot of acting persons. How did you work out such a multilayer story? And how did you keep an overview?

I guess it is how my mind works. I am very interested in telling a story from different perspectives and in this case I also wanted to breathe life into the town and its inhabitants. So I worked much with the character gallery and the description of the surroundings. I want it to feel real. I want the reader to participate and interact with the story. Since it is much of a puzzle I want the reader to collect the pieces and feel smart when he/she understands more than the acting characters. Some readers will feel frustration over the lack of understanding shown by the police and the reporters. It is very deliberate. Of course, some readers love this play, others find it just confusing or irritating.
The overview was mainly in my head. The story was built scene by scene - not necessarily in chronological order. With this said, naturally I made sketches showing the characters, how they relate to each other and where the clashes are (or may be).


Your characters seem to be very lively and authentic. Did you have any living models for them?

I am very pleased that you think so. No, actually not. At least not a specific individual representing a given character. But I do like to watch and listen to other people, understand their motivations, their circumstances and their view on the world. For me that is the basis of building a fictional character that actually could exist.


In Germany your book is an insiders’ tip. How do you feel being in competition with all these well known authors like Arne Dahl, Jo Nesbø or Ǻke Edwardson?

I am truly glad there is such an interest. The authors you mention are great names and I can only hope to one day be as accomplished as they are. As I enjoy reading their books, it is really nice if their readers enjoy my story as well. Since I am only starting, it is naturally both rewarding and a positive challenge.


The Germans love Scandinavian crime novels. Do you have any idea what’s the reason for? What is so very special about Swedish, Norwegian or Danish murders?

It is always difficult to be certain of what motivates readers. I think we are fortunate in Scandinavia to have some great crime writers. That inspires others and a tradition is built.
But I also think that it has to do with this contrast between the idyllic life and grave crimes portrayed. It certainly intrigued me how a small town like Strängnäs would be affected by bad deeds done and what it might lead to. I am sure the same can be said for Mankell’s Ystad, Läckberg’s Fjällbacka or Östlundh’s and Jungstedt’s Gotland.


And there is one question in this context I am interested in for a long time now: Why are Scandinavian investigators either depressive, addicted to something or just kinky so often?

Haha. Good question. I can only guess. The Scandinavian mood (if there is such a thing) may lean towards the depressive. The winters are long and dark and in some ways life is harder than in many other parts of the world. In Sweden, which I naturally know best, individual freedom is based on being part of the collective. The state is there to guarantee the well-being of everyone. Great deviances are in fact not tolerated (even if I think most Swedes think that they are very accepting and open-minded). This doesn’t suit everybody. Depression and addiction is actually not that uncommon.
But of course it is as you say also a literary trend. How do you make your main character interesting enough? I guess the answer is that the perfect hero is imperfect himself. But I think it gets a bit boring in the long run.


As a Scandinavian author of crime novels you have to fulfill some expectations and to be at least as good as Stieg Larsson or Henning Mankell. How do you deal with the fact that people buy lots of the utmost middle-rated books from authors e.g. of the Anglophone area, which are poorly constructed or have implausible characters that they would never forgive you as a Swedish author?

Well, I can only write as well as I can. As discussed above, in many ways it is a privilege today to be a Scandinavian writer. If a high level of standards comes with the package, then I can only aspire to fulfill such expectations. I guess every writer has his/her own temperament that suits readers differently. I will stay with mine and hope that it is interesting enough. In general, I think that the success of other authors is inspiring more that anything else. I want to believe that it has more to do with the work and the individual rather than the nationality of the author.


At the moment you are living in Nairobi. How does this completely different environment affect your work? Can you probably use it and take something out of it for new books?

It is a great opportunity to be here. It gives me the possibility to write full time and it gives a new outlook on life and the world.
Kenya is an exciting country and it is impossible not to be inspired. I am now playing with a plot for my third novel in the Strängnäs series that would take the story here to Nairobi. I think it could really work as some things happening here is living proof of that reality beats fiction.


What kind of books do you read yourself? Do you have favorite authors?

I read many different kind of books. Naturally thrillers and detective stories, but also science fiction as well as documentaries. And sometimes a great novel. I love to read Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser. Other authors I enjoy include Carlos Ruis Zàfon, John Varley and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also laugh greatly when reading Aarto Paasilinna.


When do we get to read something new from Fredrik Gransjö (Nice to know that he is neither an alcohol addict nor depressive!) in Germany?

The independent sequel called ”Skuggans spel”, i.e. ”Shadow play” will be published in Sweden in June of this year. Nothing is decided for Germany, but I hope it will be there for you sometime next year.


Thank you very much for this interview!

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