I love this somewhat creepy letter to readers from Åsa Larsson, former tax lawyer and author of several chilling thrillers set in rural Sweden, explaining how she came up with the victim for her first book, The Savage Altar, which was published by Penguin in the UK by for the first time.
NEVER trust an author. He or she is perfectly capable of taking everything you say or do and making it into a lovely soup to serve up to his or her readers. Never let an author into your house.
Then I caught sight of some photographs standing on a cupboard there in her kitchen. They were pictures of Lena’s children and her nieces and nephews. And in one of the photographs was her eldest son, Fredrik. It was as if an electric shock ran through me when I looked at the picture of him. He’d grown up so much. When I lived in Kiruna, he was just a little boy. But this picture showed a young man.
He’s so good looking, I thought, experiencing a real jolt at how quickly time passes, and the fact that nothing lasts forever.
He had long, fair hair. And I knew he played the violin.
He looks like a saint, I thought.
Then I thought:
He’d make such a beautiful corpse.
Her friend’s response upon reading the finished manuscript and being asked permission:
“Fine,” she said in her terse Kiruna way when she’d finished reading it. “You can publish it. But you’re not spending any time alone with our children from now on.”
The Savage Altar was published in the United States in 2006 as Sun Storm. Åsa Larsson’s newest book, The Black Path, was published in August.