Sophie Brinkmann, a Swedish nurse, runs afoul of both cops and crooks in TV screenwriter Alexander Söderberg’s first novel, The Andalucian Friend.
When did you decide to make a novel of The Andalucian Friend, which started as a TV screenplay?
I realized after a while that this story and all its characters didn’t fit in a television script. Not because of time or space—I just felt a greater need to paint with more colors than there are available for television. The story felt much more appropriate as a novel. It was great fun to spin out the narrative full blast, building a universe around the characters, and allowing them to live their own lives.
What was your research in creating the novel’s global turf war among criminals?
All the criminal machinations are completely from my own imagination. Since I’m fortunate not to know any crime bosses, I had no one to ask.
What was your intent to put Sophie Brinkmann, an ordinary woman, amid these ruthless criminals?
Sophie is true and genuine, but she has some ambition and cunning that is at odds with her good nature; this is why I love her. Not only because of who she is, but also because she was a challenge to write. Instead of developing in the classic way—gaining understanding and values with each new experience—she’s slow to grasp just how sharply her world has changed. Her knowledge about life, about morality, about right and wrong suddenly doesn’t apply anymore.
What do you think Swedish crime fiction brings to the table that American crime fiction doesn’t?
I don’t see American crime fiction as having any deficiencies. There’s some very dynamic and interesting writing going on in America. I think it’s just different from how the Swedes write it. Some say it is the darkness, but I don’t agree. Perhaps it’s as simple as the language. We have fewer words than you. The less said, the more suspense. But Swedes are overall creative. A lot of writing going on. Some of my countrymen are just really good.
What was the oddest thing that happened while writing your novel?
At the start of the book, there’s a car chase in Spain. I hadn’t traveled on that specific road, but needed to see what it looked like. I found a clip on YouTube. A guy, for a reason I’ll never know, filmed the whole car journey out the front window while driving. It’s not a very exciting clip, but it helped me orient myself while writing the chase.
The Andalucian Friend starts a trilogy. What’s next?
Get ready to fasten your seatbelts!