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Interview with Lotte and Soeren Hammer

 Un Polar.  Even if your novel “Morte la bête” has sold well in France, French readers don’t know you yet. What would you like to tell them by way of introduction?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer.  First of all we will like to tell our French readers, that we are both proud and humble to the fact, that we have got the chance to publish in France. By the way the French cover is so good, actually the best we have seen so far.

We are brother and sister and we live in a small town about an hours drive north of Copenhagen. We live in the same house,   lives in a flat on the first floor and Lotte lives with her husband and children on the ground floor.

Søren is a teacher and Lotte is a skilled nurse. We are respectively 58 and 56 tears old and we started to write our first book 6 years ago. It all started out as a fun project, just to prove to ourselves that we actually could write a book. Now we have just finished our fourth novel in the series with Konrad Simonsen as the main character. Up until two years ago we worked fulltime as a teacher and a nurse, but now we both write full time.

In our books we always work with a certain theme and we value the fact that all the books a different from each other. Nobody wants to read the same stuff all the time and we certainly don’t want to write the same, that is simply boring.

We have been very lucky that our books have been sold to and will be published in so many countries (19). That gives us the opportunity to visit these countries and we enjoy these visits and meeting the readers, very much. We will go to Caen, France in November this year and we look very much forward to that.

A month ago we were asked to write a short story for the French magazine Elle. We liked the idea, so that we did. This was great fun because we had to try and catch a younger age group than we normally attract in our novels. It became a short story about “fashion, sensuality and killings”. The Danish title is “Angels must be well dressed”. We don’t know the coming title in French. We are very excited to see the reaction in France when it is published in Elle.

By the way we experienced a funny response to this request from Elle by Sørens two daughters at 19 and 22 years. Like normal children they are not very interested in their father’s doings and they hardly ever read what we write. They have never commented on the foreign sales, not even to exotic places like Korea or USA.

BUT when they realised that we would get a short story in French Elle they really woke up and got interested. That fact really demanded respect.

Next month Søren will go to Paris to research for some short stories about a French lady who took part in the French resistance during the war. The first short story will take place in the metro station Saint-Augustin. We have always been fascinated of and have admired the French resistance during the Great War.

Writing short stories are a kind of hobby for us.

  Un Polar. Even before starting work on your first novel, you decided to create recurring characters for the novels that followed. What was the reason for this decision?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer.  We have always been much inspired  by the Swedish authors Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö and their character Martin Beck, a crime series from the 1970’th. When we started writing, it was obvious to us, that we also wanted a through character. Actually it was so obvious that we never talked about it. And believe us; usually we talk about everything, many times :-).

 Un Polar. The media manipulation of public opinion is a key issue in your novel, and you present Danish society as quite sensitive to these manipulations, given that a certain number of policemen themselves fall into the traps of this manipulation. In writing this novel, were you keen to describe a certain way of working of the media, the police and the wider public, or was this secondary to your storyline?  In other words:  when you write, are you trying to confront the social issues faced in your country and your era?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer. In all our books we work with a superior theme. The theme of the first book is law and civilisation versus taking the law in your own hand. To show this we needed criminals who have committed crimes so cruel and gruesome that the criminals are considered pure evil.

If we had written the book in 1947 we would probably have chosen Nazis instead.

  Un Polar. The character of Inspector Konrad Simonson, who the reader is no doubt going to come across in further adventures, is in no way privileged in comparison to the other members of his team: you have preferred to show the work and the functioning of a team rather than to centre on one single character. Was it difficult to come to this decision, which contrasts with many other police authors who use recurring characters (Mankell, Indridason, Vargas, Connelly, etc.)? Did it take a lot of discussion to arrive at this decision?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer. We did not in any way measure the advantages and disadvantages of a single main character. We operate more with the team and that is because we like parallel to the plot to describe the development of the team members and their mutual relationships.

Apart from that we also change some of the team members if we find them worn out or we want new faces.

Novel number three is called “Lonely hearts club” and is very much Konrad Simonsens novel. In this book he is the absolute main character and his life is in focus.

 Un Polar. How do you share the work between yourselves? Do you write the scenario together? Do you divide the chapters or characters between yourselves?

 When we have finished the talking- and planning period we start writing from page one. We divide the scenes and dialogs between us according to our different knowledge, interest and also the time we have. But very roughly you can say that Lotte is the one with the feelings and Søren takes the action and the more technical parts.

As we live in the same house, we meet several times a day, mostly in Lottes flat, discussing even small details. It simply makes things much easier that we can talk face to face whenever we want.

 Un Polar. What are the advantages and disadvantages, for each of you, of writing together?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer. We are both very disciplined and we always start a book by talking and planning. First we get the plot, then we settle how many chapters and how to divide up the story. Because we are two persons this period is quite long. We have to put every thought we have into words for one another. That takes time, but we believe that it saves us time in the actual writing process. Writing together also has the advantage that you get more energy and you can keep each others spirit up.

Maby a disadvantage is, that you don’t allways get things the way you want them. But yet again maby that is after all really an advantage, who knowsJ.

 Un Polar. Are either of you considering writing your own, more personal novel, or are you completely happy with the collaborative process?

 Lotte&Soeren Hammer. We are very happy with the collaborative process but Søren do consider writing a children’s novel together with his oldest daughter. When that will be, has not yet been decided.

We have plans and plot for at least 3 more novels about Konrad Simonsen and his team. We like writing together.



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