Author interview: Ragnar Jonassan

Great to have Ragnar Jonasson here today as part of the Rupture blog tour.

Rupture, the latest in his Dark Iceland series, is launched this week by Orenda Books and it was my first introduction to Ragnar’s work. Dark, brooding and very atmospheric it tells intertwining stories of crimes committed in the past and the present day.

Ragnar, the claustrophobic small-town atmosphere, frozen landscapes and harsh lifestyle are used to great effect – do you think the intertwining stories could work so well in any other location and climate?

I think that crime fiction is very often a character study, although the setting can of course be used as emphasis, so I believe that the stories would probably work elsewhere, if the circumstances were similar.

The stories of many characters twist in and out of each other all the way through the novel so can you give us an insight into your writing process – how do you manage this, is it a case of writing straight through, or do you write each character separately then weave the strands together?

The stories are mostly written in the right order, i.e. from the first chapter to the last, although there are exceptions to that, but in all instances the storyline and characters are mostly developed right from the start, including the ending and the potential twists in the story.

You cite Agatha Christie as being an inspiration for your work – do you think there are any other contemporary writers working today who come close to creating the kind of murder mysteries she made famous?

I think more writers than we think are actually influenced by Christie, directly or indirectly, as she has been so widely read, but if you are asking about authors who are writing in a similar style, I would first mention the late P.D. James, as she really managed to write the perfect contemporary whodunnits, with great focus on characters. I think there is also a lot of Christie in Stieg Larsson’s first (and incredibly good) Millennium novel. I think it’s also right to mention Sophie Hannah, who is continuing the Poirot saga with her new novels, and I think she has done an excellent job.

Which other writers inspire you and why?

Almost all writers I read inspire me in some way. I think I can mention for example P.D. James and Stieg Larsson, as above, and I’d also like to mention Australian Peter Temple, plus of course some of Christie’s golden age contemporaries, such as Ellery Queen and S.S. Van Dine.

What can we expect next in your Dark Iceland series?

Andk√∂f is the fifth book, published later this year. No English title has been selected, but it takes place in the abandoned village of Kalfshamarsvik in northern Iceland, a real and stunning place, where no-one lives anymore. In the book, I create a fictional household there, and at the beginning of the story a young woman returns to the place thirty years after her mother and sister died there under very mysterious circumstances. It’s set at Christmas time in and around this single house, so we have a very limited number of suspects, and quite a few hidden secrets!


Thanks for coming, Ragnar, and thank you to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for the advance copy of Rupture.

You can find out more about Rupture here.