Nordic is no longer niche

15 February 2011

In general, the reviews of Frozen Out/Assets have been remarkably positive and while I can’t complain, there’s a point I’d like to put straight. The comment has been made more than a few times that I may have set out to jump on the Stieg Larsson bandwagon of Nordic crime fiction. Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.
It’s not as simple as that... I started writing what eventually became Frozen Out around 2005 and Gunna the Cop had been bouncing around inside my head for a while before that – a good while before The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo appeared in English.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Stieg Larsson’s books, which are are still only halfway up my ‘to be read’ pile, along with so much else. I’m hugely thankful for the increased focus on Nordic crime fiction that his work has attracted, but nobody can plan coincidences like that when the publishing business works as slowly as it does.
The Millennium Trilogy, the movies and all the associated publicity have certainly shone a spotlight on Nordic crime fiction in general and brought what had been a niche known only to a small but discerning readership into the mainstream. It’s impossible to tell if this is likely to last, or if it’s just a flash in the pan and Nordic crime fiction will return to its niche status, but hopefully it has gathered itself a wider group of enthusiasts.
By the time Frozen Out/Assets was starting to look like something that a publisher might be interested in, Nordic was still niche and even when Constable & Robinson decided to take the book, there was no huge market for Nordic crime in English, although German readers have for years been way ahead of us English-language readers on the qualities of Nordic crime fiction.
As for the reviews, the good ones are a huge morale booster to a first-time novelist. The poor ones are a disappointment, and the anonymous ones are hard to take seriously. It’s something to chalk up to experience and it’s a fact of life that you’ll never be able to please all of the people all of the time.

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