My first novel, The Patriots, came out in Sweden in 2017. Since then, I feel very fortunate to have published five further titles and had my books translated into over 20 languages. Each new translation feels special in its own way, but it’s been a long-standing ambition of mine to be published in English, so I was delighted when Legend Press wanted to publish my Vanessa Frank series here. Femicide came out in late September and its publication has given me the opportunity to experience some wonderful things about the UK crime fiction scene.
One of the first things I noticed was how incredibly supportive members of the crime writing community are of one another. As a newcomer to the UK crime fiction scene, I really valued fellow writers who supported Femicide and who understood the importance of raising awareness of the social problem which it highlights.
Femicide explores the pressing issue of misogyny in today’s social landscape, specifically focusing on the online extremist ‘incel’ or involuntary celibate community. The story investigates the seemingly separate murders of three women and follows Detective Vanessa Frank as she links them together to the incel movement. Best-selling crime author Peter James generously gave me my first endorsement from a UK crime writer, and his kind words appear on the front cover of the UK edition of Femicide. Having the support of such a successful writer in the UK crime fiction scene made me feel instantly welcome. I also received support from Chris Merritt, a talented crime writer and psychologist who has also written a novel about the incel movement. Chris hosted a Q&A with me at the launch event for Femicide, and his experience made the conversation such an interesting one.
I wanted to write about incels and draw attention to the issue because I’ve seen how it’s a particular problem in Sweden, and how it’s becoming a more widespread threat online. Journalists and commissioning editors in the UK have really understood this mission and I was grateful to have the opportunity to write about this in detail for Sunday Times Crime Club, Metro and LadBible. I found it extremely humbling when Mark Sanderson at Sunday Times Crime Club made Femicide the ‘Star pick’, and I always appreciate when I have the chance to talk about my work – so a special thank you to Shots for inviting me to write this piece! I was so pleased that I had the chance to write about the issue of incels not only in my fictional work, but in a more journalistic manner; these articles allowed me to share my findings from the time I spent studying incel forums online to learn more about how they operate. I think fiction is an incredibly powerful tool in communicating the emotional impact of such intense topics, but I was thrilled that I could share the facts to a wide UK audience to make people aware of the danger that this extreme misogyny poses to all of us.
I was also delighted to have the chance to write about my literacy initiative for The Bookseller, and to have the opportunity to chat to the National Literacy Trust while learning about some of the amazing work that they do here in the UK. I officially launched my charitable foundation in 2021 with the goal of working to promote reading among children and young people in Sweden, so I really appreciated the opportunity to promote a cause that’s so important to me.
Another brilliant thing about the UK crime fiction scene is the incredible amount of enthusiasm that British crime fiction fans have. The passion of the team behind the UK Crime Book Club on Facebook, for example, was phenomenal. They are so brilliant and I loved talking to them about Femicide.
This is only the beginning of my journey in the UK – Legend will be publishing more of my Vanessa Frank novels in the coming years, and I'm so excited for what's to come. In particular I'm really hoping to come back for some of the crime festivals, which you have such an amazing array of in the UK – from Capital Crime to CRIMEFEST and Harrogate to Bloody Scotland – and to have the opportunity to meet more UK crime fans face-to-face.
Femicide by Pascale Engman (Legend Press) Out Now
When 25-year-old Emelie is found murdered in her Stockholm apartment the same week her ex-partner is released from prison, it feels like an open and shut case for Detective Vanessa Frank. Who else would launch such a frenzied attack on the young woman? But Frank suspects there is something they're missing. Could the killing be linked to the rising online movement of men who want to punish women, the so-called 'incels'? When a survivor of brutal sexual assault comes forward, Frank uncovers more about this shadowy group who, in their own words, have weaponised the gender war and will stop at nothing to make themselves heard. Desperate to stop any further attacks, Frank escalates the investigation when a music festival intended to be a safe space for women becomes a potential target.
More information about the author can be found on his website.
You can also find him on Facebook. He can aslo follow him on Twitter @pascalengman