As the official media partner of Iceland Noir, we’re bringing you updates on the upcoming festival in Reykjavik… and more. Today, we want to tell you more about the event’s top panel, which you could say features the leading ladies of Nordic noir.
According to the event’s organisers, they decided to have an all-female top panel for 2016 when they were holding the post-mortem for Iceland Noir 2014. (It skipped a year to support Shetland Noir in 2015.) “It was Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s idea,” explains Iceland Noir committee member Quentin Bates. “Yrsa doesn’t have bad ideas, and the rest of us agreed on the spot.”
He continues: “The original brief was for three Nordic crime fiction stars, but we ended up with four, plus Yrsa. So that means we have five of the smartest, toughest, coolest female crime writers to be found anywhere north of Gedser – that’s the southernmost tip of Denmark, in case you were wondering.”
Without further ado, let’s meet the women authors who’ll be at the helm of this Viking crime fest…
Finnish writer Leena Lehtolainen remembered Iceland fondly when asked if she’d like to take part, having been there when the Icelandic Crime Syndicate was formed so that Icelandic crime writers had an organisation that could send nominations in for the Scandinavian Glass Key award. Arnaldur Indridason later won it two years in a row! Leena’s first book was published when she was only 12 years old. A prolific writer, her contribution to crime fiction has been the Maria Kallio series, and more recently the Bodyguard series featuring the hard-boiled, non-nonsense Hilja Ilveskero.
Next up is Viveca Sten, whose Sandhamn Murders series has been phenomenally popular in her native Sweden and across Europe, but which has only recently appeared in English translation. There’s almost a cosy feel to her books, which take place in the comfortable island community of the Baltic archipelago east of Stockholm. The snug community counterpoints the brutal crimes, making them more shocking than if they had taken place in a grim urban setting, and giving the working partnership of detective Thomas Andreasson and local lawyer Nora Linde no shortage of mystery to delve into.
Hailing from Copenhagen, Sara Blaedel and has four times been voted Denmark’s most popular author. Her crime stories featuring police officer Louise Rick have been highly successful and published in more than thirty languages. Her first book, Grønt Støv (Green Dust) won the Danish Crime Academy’s debut prize in 2004 and she has a career behind her in publishing, graphic design and journalism, as well as being an ambassador for Save the Children.
Then there’s the mighty Val McDermid. Scotland’s practically Nordic, isn’t it? Val was on the wish-list from day one. The organisers tempted her (via a Twitter exchange) into promising to take part in Iceland Noir with the dangling carrot of a panel devoted to swearing, which, as everyone knows, is something the Scots have got down to a fine art.
“We’re fortunate to have tempted four such talented, interesting and diverse Nordic crime writers to Reykjavík at the same time. They’ll be taking part in a panel together, with Yrsa Sigurðardóttir moderating at the Nordic House and another at the Reykjavík City Hall as part of the festival of literature, plus they’ll each be joining other panels,” adds Quentin Bates.
And that swearing panel isn’t fictional either… It’s scheduled to be the last panel on Saturday 20 November, and, with a panel consisting mainly of Scots, it looks like it might be not just strange but also a bit special.