Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Who is a hero? By Liselotte Roll

 Who is really a hero? If you were to ask a random Hollywood producer they would probably say a hero is a likeable person with superpowers who fights evil criminals, who in their turn wants to control the world – or at least a country like America, in order to gain power and gold. The hero has of course some minor personal flaws which he will get over and turn to his advantage in the end. If you ask crime writers, especially Scandinavian ones, it´s my belief that many of them want a hero and main character that´s actually an anti-hero. Weaknesses are never beaten, they are instead part of the story and there should be a lot of them. The main character is often a middle aged man, divorced and slightly prone to booze. He is often depressed and disillusioned with life. The reason for choosing this type of  character is because a lot of crime is written by middle aged men, and their furrowed brows and greying hair for many seem to guarantee authenticity in their writing and knowledge of real crime (even though most of them never have got any closer to real crime than getting a ticket for speeding.) Luckily for them, you don´t have to be a criminal or even a victim of crime to write about it, you just need to have a dark mind.

When I chose my main characters for my thriller ”Good Girls Don´t Tell” I didn't want any of the worn out hero-types, although the depressed men can be lovely and sweet sometimes. I wanted an adult couple struggling with their family and with their hearts in the right place. Two people struggling together not so much with their own personal problems but for the ones they love. These kind of people are, in my opinion, worthier of the title ’hero’ than those flying around in bright coloured capes trying to save the world with laser-vision or spider-webs coming out of their fingers. Or at least more realistic and easier to identify with.

Linn and Magnus, are in their thirties and have two pre-school daughters. Magnus is a somewhat slow-minded but balanced cop who hates his job and has a dream of becoming a house-dad. His wife Linn is a smart therapist who has a background of growing up with an alcoholic and abusive parent. Alone, individually, they are nothing special, but together they make the perfect hero. He balancing her flighty moods, Linn, making him feel more alive and helping him to reveal gruesome facts about the murderer who stalks them. A murderer who likes to scald his victims. 

Neither Magnus nor Linn has any superpowers, just their love for each other and their two little girls. And for me, people who go to work everyday and struggle for their families are the real heroes. In this case I just push them further to see what choices they make if their entire world is threatened. In fact I push them all the way back to the military junta in Argentina. Because while the snow falls around their idyllic rowhouse in their Stockholm suburb, memories of this era seems to infest the investigation and their minds as the snare around them firmly tightens.

From the beginning I actually based Magnus on my husband, but as I thought that he became a little bit too nice I re-wrote his character to be slower and more dough-like. Linn is the opposite, she is small, fast thinking and not so balanced – sometimes thinking too much can do that to you. Her background with an alcoholic parent is torturing her as it did me for some years, before I accepted it for what it was. A problem that couldn´t get solved. At least not in the way I wanted. ”Good Girls Don´t Tell” has now been sold to eight countries and Linn’s independent ways have been much appreciated.

So if you like to read about heroes maybe not very different from yourself, just normal people being pushed into a gruesome reality, please feel welcome to enter the world of Linn and Magnus Kalo.

Good Girls Don’t Tell by Liselotte Roll, translated by Ian Giles is published by World Editions price £9.99, available now.

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