Crime by the Book and David Lagercrantz

Fans of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy were excited to learn that the iconic series was continuing under the assured pen of bestselling Swedish writer and journalist David Lagercrantz. The fourth book in the series, and the first written by Lagercrantz, was THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, published in 2015. The next, the eagerly-anticipated THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, was released today (9/12/17).

One of those Larsson fans was the prolific book blogger Abby from Crime by the Book, who credits his series with introducing her to Nordic crime fiction. “When Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy hit the U.S.,” she states on her web site, “my whole literary world was flung open: suddenly, I found stories that just clicked with me.”

We at The Thrill Begins are pleased to have the opportunity to showcase two of the most exciting voices in crime fiction today. Thanks to both Crime by the Book and David Lagercrantz for discussing the Millennium series, and for this open and frank interview about the challenges and joys of continuing Mr. Larsson’s work.

To learn more about THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE, click on the cover below:

Crime by the Book: I recently read that something like 89 million copies of the Millennium books have been sold worldwide! How does it feel to be involved in this international phenomenon?

David Lagercrantz: It is of course fantastic and absurd at the same time. But most of all I am so honoured to be a part of it. I feel most humble of inheriting such a success.

For readers who might be unfamiliar with your career: you previously worked as a crime journalist in Sweden before you were selected to continue the Millennium series. What in your career do you feel has positioned or prepared you well to take over these books?

All and nothing. In one perspective one can be prepared and from another, you can never be prepared. But, I believe it has been of great help that I am used to struggle. Writing did not come easy to me. I have been struggling, striving to do better all my life.

As a huge personal fan of this series, I’ve been genuinely impressed by the way you have been able to keep the core spirit of Larsson’s storytelling while also infusing your series contributions with a personality and style uniquely your own. How do you strike this balance? Has it been challenging to do so?

When realizing that I became better when colliding with something completely different from myself, I think that was the key to me getting into Steig Larsson’s universe. So, to answer the question, I believe that the balance and the uniqueness is the colliding. Me colliding with something completely different from me.

Were there any lessons you learned while writing your first contribution to the Millennium series, THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB, that you carried with you into THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE?

I am not sure one could say it was a lesson learned, but rather “what does not kill you makes you stronger.” I felt much more at ease when writing THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE. This time I knew I made it. I was not terrified of ruining a universe as I was the first time.

Lisbeth Salander is one of the most iconic characters in modern crime fiction. As you continue to write her character, do you feel that you’re able to let her develop and grow, or is it more important to keep her a pure reflection of the Lisbeth found in Larsson’s original trilogy?

Rather the opposite, actually. Lisbeth Salander is an icon, as you said, she is part of modern mythology. And this time, for example, I became obsessed when realizing the dignity, and of what great importance, the dragon had had in Lisbeth’s life. A woman like Lisbeth would never have a large tattoo without a good reason. I searched for something that carried that epic weight that could deepen the mythology around her.

The more time you spend with Lisbeth, what are the qualities that interest you most about her? What makes you (and readers) want to keep coming back for more?

I tend to follow characters. People that become stronger, in spite of things that would floor most of us, interest me. What hurts themselves from the outside creates great opportunities to look at things differently, to be inventive and tough in order to survive. Ibra, Turing and Salander are personalities that have turned oppression into something grand. I think that is what attracts me (and others).

THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE begins with Lisbeth imprisoned following the events of THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB—and naturally, Lisbeth has found herself (or put herself!) in the cross hairs of ongoing tensions within the inmate population. Why did you decide to spend significant time developing this world? Why not free Lisbeth from prison in the book’s first chapter?

To me, I found the prison a necessity to start the plot and take it where I wanted it. The prison was a necessary and also the perfect milieu where power and weakness enfolds in the most flagrant way.

THE GIRL WHO TAKES AN EYE FOR AN EYE gives readers unprecedented insight into Lisbeth’s backstory. What inspired you to focus this new series installment largely on unraveling the secrets of Lisbeth’s past?

I am interested in who Lisbeth is and when she became what and who she is. Like Batman who became Batman when his parents were killed, the horrible abuse and assaults she witnessed as a child, and was also exposed to, defined her and who she became. That has always interested me.

Without spoiling the plot, much of this story feels current and timely. Were portions of this book inspired by real events?

The line between fiction and reality is often very thin.

What are you working on next? Will readers be able to look forward to another Millennium book?

Yes, absolutely. I have already started off Millennium 6. But it is way too early to say more…

Thanks to both Crime by the Book and David Lagercrantz for this terrific interview!

David Lagercrantz is an acclaimed Swedish journalist and author. He has worked as a crime reporter for Expressen and has written several novels, including the #1 best-selling The Girl in the Spider’s Web. He worked with international soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović on his memoir I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović, which was short-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and nominated for the August Prize in Sweden.

Abby (Crime by the Book) has been a crime fiction fan ever since she first discovered her mom’s childhood collection of Nancy Drew books hiding in a dusty box in their attic. After going on one adventure with the strawberry-blonde sleuth, she was hooked, and has been exploring the best (and worst) in crime fiction ever since. 

To read Crime by the Book’s last appearance in The Thrill Begins, when she discussed the ins and outs of running a successful newsletter, click HERE.