Sara Blaedel is the author of the new mystery novel The Lost Woman, the latest in her Detective Louise Rick series, which also includes The Killing Forest and The Forgotten Girls. She is known as Denmark's "Queen of Crime," and she lives north of Copenhagen.
Q: Your new novel The Lost Woman focuses on the issue of assisted suicide. Why did you decide to look at that issue, and how is it viewed in Denmark?
A: As is the case in the USA, the subject of assisted suicide is hugely controversial in Denmark. There is a great and growing debate about legalization. Some 70 percent of the population are in favor, but the government is staunchly against passing laws to enable Danish citizens to legally assist the afflicted who wish to end their lives in their suicidal acts.
There is also a deeply personal element for me, with regard to my decision to explore assisted suicide in The Lost Woman. I lost my parents four years ago, which was crushing for me.
During my mother’s illness, she spoke frequently and at length about her desire to control when her life would end. She referred, constantly, to no longer feeling like or being herself.
Of course, the discussion was heartbreaking and unthinkable for me for quite some time. I couldn’t think about losing her, let alone being involved in any way with hastening her passing.
I tried, in my exploration of the topic, to be balanced and fair; to show both sides of the debate and to allow readers to arrive at their own conclusions without heavy-handedly pushing my own. I hope I have provoked some thought and debate amongst my wonderful readers, as this is an issue that touches or will touch us all.
Q: The novel reveals more about the background of Louise's partner Eik. Did you know all the details you'd write about him before you started this book, or did you figure it out as you went along?
A: I first introduced Eik in The Forgotten Girls. At that point, I knew the basics of his back-story; that he had a girlfriend who had vanished. I hadn’t yet worked up all the details of how she disappeared, and why. Those pieces and others became more clear and full-bodied as the book concept came to me.
Q: This novel included scenes set in England. Why did you choose that additional setting, and how important is setting to you in your writing?
A: Actually, setting is an extremely important element for me in my storytelling. As I conceptualize, everything must play out visually in my mind. It comes to me like a movie playing only in my head.
I travel to the places where my novels play out, and so I went to England to get a sense of the exact details so I could write the British-set scenes organically.
In this case, I spent a lot of time researching locations/countries/cities wherein it is easy for a person to purposefully disappear. In Europe, England, in turns out, is the easiest and most efficient place for one to make themselves vanish.
Q: How has Louise changed over the many books you've written about her?
A: Oh, definitely for the better. She has evolved and matured, and has discovered that there is so much more to life than her career. Yes, she loves her work, and is really good at what she does, but there are other rewards and deeper meaning in her relationships.
She becomes a mother, even though she’d never planned to. She stumbled into it and it has changed her life. As has romantic love again. She’s realized that life is truly multi-faceted, and having chosen her own family, she feels whole.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am loving every minute of working on Book 2 in a trilogy. The Undertaker’s Daughter, my new series, is my very first writing that is set in the USA.
The story takes place in Racine, Wisconsin, which has a huge population of Danish-Americans and Danish immigrants. Researching and visiting Racine was absolutely eye-opening and amazing!
In this series, a 40-year-old woman gets an unexpected fresh start in life, with all new lessons and challenges and opportunities, after she inherits a funeral home from the father she hasn’t seen or heard from in decades- since she was a little girl.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I am simply overjoyed--super happy that my U.S. publisher is set to reprint all of my backlist of Louise Ricks novels. I cannot wait for American readers to dig in and get to know Louise from the very beginning.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. For a previous Q&A with Sara Blaedel, please click here.