When The Man Who Watched Women was published in Sweden in 2011, it was the result of a long held ambition of ours to work together.
We – Michael (Hjorth) and Hans (Rosenfeldt) – met as early as 1992, when we both worked at the Swedish national public broadcaster SVT. Hans was writing for a soap opera, and Michael for a sitcom. We hit it off straight away and were convinced that we would end up doing something great together, but it just never happened. Years went by. We both went on to make a career in writing TV and feature films scripts and each time we met at different parties, events, award shows and fairs, we said to each other that we really ought to make something together.
But it took us all of fourteen years and until 2006 before we finally sat down together and created a TV-series that we were convinced was fantastic, but that no TV channel wanted.
Despite our not entirely successful first try, we didn’t give up. In 2008 we tried again. This time the story centred on an eccentric – to say the least – and in all honesty quite hard-to-like criminal psychologist working with a team of murder investigators. Once again we received a no from the TV-channels. But instead of the idea, we decided to do an experiment.
What if we were to write a book instead? Based on the stories and characters we had created for TV.
Writing a novel was one of the things we had said that we wanted to try, so why not?
At present, we have written four novels. The fifth will be published in Sweden this September. The novels all revolve around Sebastian Bergman – our antihero caught in a struggle against everything and everyone, including himself – and the team, but there the similarities end.
Because since we were experimenting anyway, why not see if we could split our crime stories into different categories? From a family tragedy in a small village to a conspiracy thriller to something more “high concept” like a real serial killer.
The Man Who Watched Women is our serial killer novel. We wanted to give Sebastian Bergman a real challenge. A number of women are found brutally murdered. The killer’s MO is an exact copy of an old serial killer’s: Edward Hinde. As the investigation continues, Sebastian begins to realise that the copycat killings are simply too perfect for Hinde not to be involved. There’s just one problem. Hinde is sitting behind bars at the high security facility Lövhaga and could never have committed the murders. Sebastian was in fact the one who put him there in 1996, and later wrote a bestselling book about him. There is in other words plenty of reason to believe that the murders are a personal message directed at Sebastian. The only question is, how far is the killer willing to go?
Here we might take the opportunity to answer the most common question we get from our readers: How do we write together?
The simple answer is, we don’t.
We work side by side for the time it takes us at the beginning of a novel to come up with its contents. We then break down the story, chapter by chapter. Then we do the same with our characters. Where do they begin, where do we want them to end up. Then we both retire to our separate homes and begin writing.
It’s not that we don’t enjoy working alongside each other, we just have other projects going on as well: Hans has written three seasons of The Bridge, Michael has produced films and TV – the Easy Money-trilogy among else – so it’s difficult to synchronise our calendars.
Until the end. Then we meet up again and go through the material, cut, rework, wash through, and make sure that the entire novel has the same voice throughout, a clear narrative.
So now you know.
All the best,
Michael and Hans.
The trailer can be seen below:
The Man Who Watched Women -
From the creator of The Bridge comes a gripping crime thriller. As a heatwave blazes in Stockholm a series of women are found brutally murdered. The killings bear all the hallmarks of convicted serial killer Edward Hinde.