Have you been watching series two of The Killing on BBC4? Maybe you saw the first Danish series which took place in Copenhagen, or the American adaptation set in Seattle? With a plot revolving around a missing teenage girl, how her Muslim schoolteacher is suspected of killing her, and how all of this is intertwined with an upcoming mayoral election, it’s a fantastic TV series that has won fans around the world. Many of us were attracted to it because of its Scandinavian crime fiction credentials, but disappointed to find that it wasn’t based on a series of books like Wallander or The Millennium Trilogy.
To the rescue comes crime author David Hewson, chosen by Pan Macmillan to rewrite The Killing in novel format. Even though it’s only due out in May, here at Crime Fiction Lover were so excited by the news we were compelled to contact David and ask him about the books.
What did you make of The Killing on TV?
I was in Italy when the original Killing aired so I didn’t see it until Macmillan approached me and said I was their first choice to write the novels. They sent me the DVDs and I was hooked. I’m afraid my limited brainpower doesn’t extend to holding two massive TV series in my head at the same time so I haven’t watched the US version. I’m writing a book based on the Danish series alone.
How close to the series will your novelisation be, and how far can you roam?
I did the project on the understanding that it was my book and mine alone. TV isn’t a book and vice versa. So the narrative needs to change to suit the literary medium – and does. Killing fans should expect some big shocks at times, though the book is very much based on the original and doesn’t try to turn it into something else.
How are you interpreting the setting, characters and storyline?
The original Killing is stunning TV on several fronts – the acting, direction, music, the length and complexity of the story, and characters like Lund and Theis and Pernille. It’s not so much a crime epic as a moral tragedy for our times. For me, it’s the story of what happens when a society that’s supposed to care doesn’t. So Lund and Meyer’s battle becomes so much harder because all the people who should help them – their colleagues, politicians, people in schools – lie for their own advantage instead of helping find out who killed Nanna. There’s a lot to work with in 20 hours of TV so expect a long, though not hard to read I hope, book.
What are you enjoying most about writing it?
It’s set in Copenhagen and I’ve been lucky enough to talk to the creator of The Killing, Søren Sveistrup and his colleagues, and visit the city regularly during the writing. And visit key locations such as City Hall and the Police HQ. This is the TV series reimagined as a book, but with a few major twists in the narrative.
As a novelist, what more do you think you can give The Killing?
I don’t want to add any more to it at all. I think it’s wonderful as it is. But those marvellous elements need to be made to work in book form, which means some of them have to change – and have.
What’s going to happen to your own writing projects while this is being written?
The novel of my collaborative rewrite of Macbeth with AJ Hartley will be out during 2012. My newest Italian novel, Carnival for the Dead, launches in January. I’m contracted to do the second book of The Killing and will be working on at least new project at the same time.
Photo by Mark Bothwell.