The Joona Linna series by Lars Kepler has been on my radar for some time. The series contains two of my favorite things, a police procedural featuring a damaged/troubled detective and a story based in Sweden. With Kepler’s newest release, The Sandman (released 3/6/18), the name Lars Kepler was all over my Instagram and Twitter feeds. However, I could not allow myself to begin the Joona Linna series with The Sandman, book four in the series, I had to start at the beginning with The Hypnotist.
After reading The Hypnotist, I found out Lars Kepler would be appearing at one my favorite bookstores, Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle Washington. All of the stars seemed to be aligning. The praise on social media for The Sandman, my love of The Hypnotist, and now Kepler would be doing in a reading locally. I attended the reading and I am so glad I did.
The praise on social media for The Sandman was not the only thing that caught my attention. I also noticed Lars Kepler was actually two people, a married couple, Alexander and Alexandra Ahnodoril. I found this so interesting and since this subject was one of the first things Alexander and Alexandra spoke about at the reading, others must find it interesting as well.
At the event, I noticed how in sync Alexander and Alexandra were with each other. They sometimes completed each others sentences and the event had a great flow. During the question and answer session, they seemed to know who would be better suited to answer the question posed. I could completely understand why they have been so successful as a writing duo.
The couple explained, Lars Kepler is actually a persona they created. The couple struggled at first to join together their writing styles, but once they created Kepler it became much easier and the creativity seemed to flow. Kepler is a retired teacher and he has suffered a loss which he does not discuss. Since his retirement, he works a night shift at a hostel for the homeless and spends his days writing crime books.
Alexandra mentioned how lonely the life of a writer can be. She went on to say, while writing you cannot share your story with anyone until it is finished for fear of losing the creative spark. Writing with her husband has removed the loneliness. Alexander and Alexandra explained they write side by side emailing each other scenes they have written. They edit the others scene and email it back. The process goes back and forth. Alexandra said there is not one sentence in their books that just one of them has written.
Alexander and Alexandra explained how much they value authenticity in their novels. They have visited prisons and spoken to inmates for research purposes. They have also researched serial killers. Alexander and Alexandra seem to have great empathy for the victims of serial killers and their families. They take great care not be insensitive to the victims or their families in they're writing, realizing that real lives have been affected and altered.
Alexander and Alexandra also spoke about the media frenzy and mystery that surrounded Lars Kepler. There was a time when the identity of Lars Kepler was unknown. When The Hypnotist was published and became a huge success, the publishing industry and the media began a campaign to uncover the identity of Lars Kepler. A criminal profile was created and a tip off phone number was established by a newspaper, all to unmask Lars Kepler. Eventually a press conference was held by their publisher revealing Alexander and Alexandra Ahnodoril as Lars Kepler. Alexandra stated their unveiling was more talked about in the media than the wedding of a member of the Royal Swedish Family which was occurring around the same time. Although the couple valued their anonymity, they are glad readers now know they are the writers behind Lars Kepler. They can now meet and interact with their readers.
I am not able to explain how much I enjoyed meeting Lars Kepler. They were kind, open, and down to earth. Fun fact - The Lars in Lars Kepler is a tribute the Stieg Larsson, the author of the Millennium series which features my favorite female protagonist of all time, Lisbeth Salander.