Interview 2014 – Jussi Adler-Olsen (english version)

Ritual question to start my interviews, can you define you in three words, just three?  

Fun, energetic and organized, ha, ha!

Your book series staging the “Department Q” is encountering a huge success in France. How could you explain this worldwide recognition?

It is a combination of reasons I think. Firstly I have been lucky to be part of the wave of Nordic authors gaining recognition. But mostly I think people like my use of humour. When something becomes so grim that you almost cannot bear it, I try to loosen up by bringing in humour. That means that my books probably go that bit further under the skin of the readers and stay there. But having said that I must pay my compliments to my translator, Caroline Berg – without a great translator I  would not get the recognition I have now.

Journal 64 is your last book published in France, the fourth in the series. Do you feel an evolution in your way to set up a story?

I have been very aware of the way I wanted this series to be written. This is not just a series of books – the series is planned to consist of approx. 10 novels. Each one a novel in its own right, but at the same time a chapter in the longer story of Carl, Assad and Rose. And I have been very aware that when you read the entire series that should also be read as one giant book. So each individual novel or “chapter” has it’s own place in the rhythm of the story.

This incredible thriller is casting a light on a dark page of Denmark’s history, which some ideas are resurfacing today (and in a similar way in France)…

To me it was an opportunity to pay my respect to my father.  As a child I grew up in the Northern part of Jutland and several times every year we would travel to Zealand to visit family.  Every single time the ferry passed Sprogø my father mentioned the poor women there. As a young intern my father had worked in a place where these women were recruited and he never forgot these women and the injustice and misuse of a doctor’s position.  Basically my father was embarrassed on behalf of the medical profession that such an institution ever existed. With this book I got an opportunity to share my father’s embarrassment and show these women our empathy and understanding.

Do you think a thriller is also a way of letting a message to the world?

Certainly. The thriller genre gives you exactly the opportunity to write in all ages with all kinds of point of views and about all sorts of themes. Politics, secrets and the dark side of the human being are all elements that are used in my books and the thriller genre is perfect for that.

Your books are characterized by a stunning mix of dark parts and astoundingly funny moments. Is it hard to find the good balance between both?

The Department Q series is covering a lot of grim subjects. Using humour serves several purposes. It creates a breathing space for the reader amongst the sometimes rather trying cases, it can also build a bridge between our main characters when things get strained, and finally it can create a common understanding in the middle of the huge gap of political differences which prevail these days not only in Denmark but in the world at large.  Humour can put things into perspective.

When reading your books, people fall instantly in love with the trio of investigators, every one of them hiding secrets. Do you have already planned when and how you’ll reveal these mysteries?

Yes, I knew that even before I started writing the first title in the series. I have a long, complex and titillating story about each of them: Carl, Rose and Assad.  As mentioned, I expect the series to end up with approx. 10 novels and during the course of these “chapters” the entire story of the trio will unfold.

Assad is one of the most stunning thriller characters I’ve ever met. He seems to fascinate readers…

Assad is one of the key elements of the Department V series. And he is both  the one who can make this lazy, disillusioned and exhausted detective inspector Carl Morck want to do his job again as well as the one who is a brilliant example of an immigrant, who is Carl’s equal, not least as regards education, and has no fear whatsoever of any clash of cultures. And then Assad has a lot of very dark secrets. I think the readers are curious to learn more about those – and they will – little by little.

Is it legitimate to hope for a movie adaptation of your books?

Oh yes, in fact I have recently opened up for offers for a French language movie. We’ll see what happens, but I think that would be great fun.

While in the convention “Saint Maur en poche” 2014, I’ve seen you jumping in the arms of Frank Thilliez (who’s praising your sense of humor). How did you meet him?

We first met in Lyon in March 2012 and again in Quebec earlier this year at the Festival les Printemps Meurtriers de Knowlton.

Photo from Saint Maur 2014

This blog is made ​​of words and sounds. Is music involved in your creative process? 

I cannot live without music especially not when I write.  I have to listen to great music to write well. By listening to exquisite music I try to lift my writing up to the same level.  If I feel I do not succeed in that I make myself start all over again.  I love all kinds of music as long as it is exceptionally good.  It could be classical or music from film scores but not necessarily.

You have the choice between give us your final word or talk about your favorite dessert … 

I am not too keen on desserts but I have a soft spot for the Danish version of blancmange. The kind that you make by getting a prepared mix from the supermarket and add sugar and milk. It is easy, quick, fantastic and above all nostalgic. I love it. Especially with a touch of cherry sauce on top.

Catégories :Interviews littéraires

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  1. Récapitulatif des interviews 2014 | EmOtionS – Blog littéraire et musical

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