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Meet the author: Jenny Rogneby

Swedish writer (and former pop star) Jenny Rogneby is the latest Scandi crime writer to break through.
Leona by Jenny Rogneby

Best moment – opening for Michael Jackson in your life as a pop singer, or hitting the international bestseller lists with your first novel?

Being the opening act for Michael Jackson was such a great moment in my life, but right now everything about my book and my writing is the most exciting thing for me. Hitting number one on Sweden’s bestseller list was a great feeling. To hit bestseller lists in other countries as well would be amazing.

Your main character Leona has a personality disorder that leaves her unable to experience emotion normally. Why did you depict her this way?

I find it interesting to write about characters that don’t act the way that’s expected. In my work as a criminal investigator I’ve met people with all sorts of difficulties. A lot have had a traumatic childhood and some have mental health problems like personality disorders. People who have gone through difficulties in life sometimes make choices and act in a way that puts them in difficult situations. Leona gets herself into a lot of trouble, which makes her push her boundaries to a point that’s dangerous for herself and others. To write about that has been very interesting.

You’re an investigator with the police in Stockholm. What’s the most memorable case you’ve worked on?

One of them was when a young man was shot to death in central Stockholm by a 17-year-old boy. Another was a case of child pornography. When you work with an investigation you’re very focused on getting the work done but you also think about all the people affected by crimes. Even though many crimes are solved and the offenders get convicted in court, it’s just very sad when you think about the damage in people’s lives that never really can be repaired.

Most successful authors have a lifelong love of writing, but it’s not something you considered until fairly recently. What brought you to write your first novel?

When I’d worked a few years as a criminal investigator the idea about my main character Leona came to me. It just wouldn’t let go. I knew it was going to be a lot of work to write a book, so I took some time off from my job, I sold my apartment in Stockholm and moved to Malta, a small, calm, beautiful island in the Mediterranean sea. It’s a great place for a writer. In the mornings I took a walk by the ocean and thought about my characters and the storyline. I wrote every day for a year and after that I went back to Sweden and sent my manuscript to publishing houses; 10 were interested.

Scandinavian crime is so hot right now. Why do you think you and your peers are so good at producing crime novels?

Besides the fact there are a lot of good writers in Scandinavia, it might be the way we portray the dark Nordic environment, the crimes, and people’s everyday relationships in Scandinavia that attract readers from all over the world. I know the cold, dark and rainy autumns in Stockholm, police work, the Swedish legal system, the crime scenes, and how people in Sweden interact socially.

Leona: The Die is Cast (Atrium Oetinger, $35) is out now.

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