Earlier this year we talked to Alexander Ahndoril & Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, also known as Lars Kepler, about their ten years anniversary of The Hypnotist. This time we talked to them about their new thriller Spegelmannen (The Mirror Man), that was published in The Netherlands as Spiegelman by uitgeverij Cargo.
Last time we mostly talked about The Hypnotist, but now we want to know more about you. Who are Alexander and Alexandra? What are your hobbies? Do you have any pets?
Who are we? Ha ha! Well, we are very passionate storytellers, that´s our way to communicate with the world, we write every day of the week. We love all kind of fiction, reading and watching fiction. We love to discuss things with each other and our children. We spend a lot of time together cooking – and it’s a kind of hobby. And Alexander likes sportfishing – from deep sea to flyfishing. No pets, though.
What made you decide to write a series about Joona Linna? Is Joona anything like you?
Joona Linna just came walking towards us, with his finish accent and grey eyes. He interests us, because unlike many other characters, he is full of empathy. Every case costs him something, not just the scars and wounds from hunting the perpetrator, but also the scars in his soul, confronting all that darkness – which is extra noticeable in The Mirror Man.
Can you tell us in a few words what The Mirror Man is about?
The Mirror Man starts with a woman that is murdered on a playground in Stockholm in the middle of the night. She went missing five years earlier and no one knows where she has been during all these years. It turns out that her missing and death show a very disturbing pattern. The Mirror Man is a fast-paced thriller built on a very dark psychological labyrinth.
Where does The Mirror Man take place? Why there?
It mainly takes place here in Stockholm, a few blocks from our own apartment, and also in different secure criminal psychology units and psychiatric wards. Some places just talk to you as a writer and some is of course necessary for the story. We love to take our readers to places they’ve never seen or would dare to visit in real life.
Why did you decide to bring back Erik Maria Bark in this book? Could this have something to do with the fact that The Hypnotist was recently reissued?
From the beginning, we knew that our hypnotist Erik Maria Bark was a part of the gallery of returning characters in the series. We followed him even though he didn’t have a part in book two, three and four. But he came back in Stalker, and in The Mirror Man, Joona Linna really needs his help to interrogate an eyewitness who saw the brutal murder on the playground. The eyewitness is a mentally ill and remembers nothing of what he saw – but maybe he will under hypnosis.
Alexandra is a creative hurricane and has this total emotional connection to our stories
In our last interview, you mentioned that the movie rights/rights for the series had been sold to Hollywood. How’s that going?
Right now, with the covid-19 situation, everything seems to be closed down in Hollywood. We had almost everything on place, a manuscript, a director etcetera – and now it all stands still. So we don’t know. But we are writers in the end, we love books. Movies would only be a bonus. And we´re not complaining since the virus has taken much more things from people than this.
Alexander is a brilliant writer. He has a way of describing things… it makes everything come closer
How far along are you with the ninth Joona book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
It was very intense when we finished The Mirror Man, we put almost everything else aside as we usually do the last weeks of the writing process. And when we reached the finishing line, we felt totally empty, started to clean our apartment and suddenly we had a really exciting idea for next book. We are writing it right now, but we can’t talk about it before it is ready … But there is a small clue to our new story in the end of the Mirror Man.
What would you consider to be each other’s best qualities in terms of writing?
Alexandra: Alexander is a brilliant writer. He has a way of describing things with a mixture of poetry, authority and intimacy – it makes everything come closer, as if you can almost touch the people in the text.
Alexander: Alexandra is a creative hurricane and has this total emotional connection to our stories and I love her style of writing (both as herself and Lars Kepler).
Do you have any plans for writing a new series? Or perhaps a standalone?
It might happen, we don´t know, we avoid rules when it comes to writing. We just write the books we would love to read ourselves and that’s the only lighthouse we navigate after.
Would you ever want to write a book in a different genre, like a young-adult book or perhaps a novel?
Yes, if we have a really good idea to such a book, absolutely – and we did write another kind of book, Playground – but so far, we enjoy writing about Joona Linna and Saga Bauer too much.
Which book is the most precious to you out of all the books you’ve written? Why this book in particular?
Well, every book is equally precious, they are like your children, you love them even though they are very different. But for Alexandra, it’s The Hypnotist, because it’s such a twisted story and the beginning of our common authorship. For Alexander, it is The Sandman (Sandmannen) because it’s kind of a perfect under-cover story.
Is it difficult to keep your work and your private lives separate?
As a married, writing couple, it’s not possible to separate the parts of our lives. We share almost everything and it works for us.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with your books yet (they don’t know what they’re missing! ?), why should they start reading your books? Should they start at the beginning, with part one?
Our books are more like fast paced thrillers with psychological depth than the traditional crime fiction from Scandinavia. They are pretty scary (sorry) and graphic since we do our research thoroughly, but they have a big heart and happy (not cheezy) endings. So why not start with The Mirror Man? All our books can be read as stand alone, they all have a completed story, a mystery that comes to an end. But if you read the whole series, you will get the full story of Joona Linna and Saga Bauer’s journey – who they are and why they have become the persons they are.
We would love life to be exactly like it is
What has the COVID-19 crisis been like for you? Have a lot of things changed in your lives? Are you busier now, or is it more a question of trying to keep busy?
We sit and write as always in our study. The big difference is that we don’t travel anymore. Usually, we travel very much when our books are being published. We deeply miss meeting our readers and our friends at our publishing houses around the world.
Do you have any dreams you still want to make reality as writers? What do you still want to achieve?
We would love life to be exactly like it is – living with our children, writing, being together. We’re really happy and fortunate.
Now, we’re going to ask you to choose:
Tea or coffee
Reading or writing
Never reading again or never writing again
Alexandra: Never reading again.
Alexander: Never reading again (even though it´s impossible to separate the two)
Sweet or savory
Movie or TV-series
Paper book or e-reader
Alexandra: Paper book
Wine or beer
Summer or winter