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Behind the Book with Lars Kepler

Readers might be surprised to learn that the name “Lars Kepler” is actually a pseudonym for two people! How did the identity of “Lars Kepler” come about?

The pen name Lars Kepler was actually the key to our collaboration. We were already authors but we really wanted to collaborate. But even though you love each other, are married and have three daughters it’s not just a piece of cake to sit down and write together. The truth is that we had quite a few arguments and failed attempts before we came up with the idea to create a third author. It seemed impossible to get our styles into harmony before that. But as soon as we began to write as Lars Kepler an incredibly creativity took over. It was suddenly so easy and so wonderful.


What does your writing process look like? Do you take turns writing chapters, or do you write everything together?

We share the whole process and write everything together. When the outline is done we sit side by side at our computers, e-mailing our texts to each other back and forth. We change things the whole time, fill in gaps and continue the scene; surprise each other.  There are fresh ideas and new input all the time. In the end there isn’t one sentence in the book that only one of us has written alone – and that’s actually a huge freedom.


THE SANDMAN is Book 4 in your Joona Linna series. What do you think makes this book the right place for new readers to start?

The Sandman is a standalone, like all of our books. In every book there’s a new case, new characters involved, a new resolution, but within the same universe and involving the same investigators. But if you read several books, it becomes apparent that they are related and form an epic story about our main characters Joona and Saga. The Sandman is perfect to start with because it really involves our Saga and Joona on a psychological level – you’ll get to know them during a dangerous under cover mission. But if you wish to begin with the first book, The Hypnotist, it has been retranslated and will be published in paperback in June, followed by the second and third book.


In THE SANDMAN, readers meet Jurek Walter – a serial killer who will remind readers of the infamous Hannibal Lecter. How do you get inside the head of a villain?

We did a lot of research about serial killers. We interviewed psychiatrists, criminologists and investigators. We focused on killers who appeared to be intelligent, who had strategies and communicated. Then we took the research and interlaced it with our own fears. Empathy was the key, because we didn’t want to create a monster, just an extremely lethal and manipulative human being. That’s how we got inside Jurek Walter’s mind, but he got inside our heads at the same time. Alexandra had nightmares almost every night when we wrote The Sandman.


What kind of research did you do for THE SANDMAN?

It started with a dinner party in the Netherlands when we met a man who had worked as a secret agent for Mossad. We asked him all about strategies when you go undercover. Then when read a lot of forensic reports, we talked to doctors and police officers, visited prisons, crime scenes and psychiatric wards.


Do you read crime fiction as well as write crime fiction? Who are some authors whose works you enjoy?

Reading and writing is almost the same because you have to create everything in your head. To read an exciting book is the best, you give yourself some emotional hours, it’s a luxury. We read both crime fiction and other genres. We love many different writers, but it’s difficult to point out just a few, since pleasure of reading depends on how you feel at a specific moment. Right now we read a lot of classics and American novels, which we really appreciate.

THE SANDMAN by Lars Kepler is available now!