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Mark Billingham interviews Sara Blaedel

Sara Blaedel is the number one Danish bestseller and author of the Detective Louise Rick crime series, which has been published to acclaim around the world. All of her books go straight to the top of the bestseller lists in Denmark so her reputation as Denmark’s ‘Queen of Crime’ is well deserved! Sara has been voted Denmark’s most popular novelist three times since 2007 and she is also an ambassador for Save the Children.

Sara’s UK debut, Blue Blood, introduces Detective Louise Rick as she investigates a case of serial rape by a man who finds his victims through online dating sites. This heart-pounding thriller will have you gripped until the very last page and make you ask yourself who you’re really talking to online…


MB: Hi Sara. When did you first start reading crime fiction and what was it? Did you read Scandinavian stuff or were you looking towards American or British mysteries?

SB: Hi Mark! My mother introduced me to crime fiction at a young age – so you can credit (or blame!) her for my devotion to the genre. She was an actress, and I loved it when she read to me out loud, which she was happy to do, as long as she was entertained by the stories as well. She introduced me gently to mysteries, starting with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and progressing to classics by Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. So I’ve been a life-long lover of both British and American mysteries.


MB: Did you always prefer the darker side of things? Your books are certainly dark, so I’m presuming this was the kind of book you preferred to read…

SB: I definitely think the darker aspects of human nature can be much more fascinating than the nicey-nice components. Great stories include dramatic conflict and are driven by characters who face monumental challenges in their professional and personal lives, and I find these come through the dark most clearly.


MB: Obviously Scandinavian crime fiction has become very popular worldwide. I have my own (not altogether serious) theory about blood looking good against snow, but what do you really think lies behind its enormous popularity?

SB: I think your theory of vivid blood red against the stark white of snow is an excellent one! Seriously, though, Scandinavian literary fiction has long enjoyed a great deal of popularity, and I think part of the reason our crime fiction has taken off in recent years is that it is in a style and concerns topics that readers find different, and therefore fascinating. And may it long continue!


MB: Whatever the reason, we’re delighted that it means UK readers finally get the chance to read your books, so can you say a little about your new book Blue Blood? I know it’s not your first book, but it’s your UK debut, so what can British readers expect?

SB: First and foremost, I hope that readers are drawn into the story in Blue Blood because they find elements to connect with. I don’t imagine having many murderers reading it, but the story is about more than murder; it concerns human connections and familial relations, as well as police procedure. Readers can also expect to be introduced to some of my recurring characters’ flaws, as well as their strengths.


MB: I think UK readers would like to know a little more about your series character Louise Rick? Is she a character you enjoy returning to?

SB: I am quite fond of Louise, indeed. Louise is not a superhero – far from it. Like Tom Thorne, she faces personal as well as professional challenges in each book, and while she is capable of making decisive choices, she sometimes regrets her moves further down the line. I really do love returning to her because she is constantly evolving, and she always surprises me!


MB: What makes Copenhagen such a fascinating city to write about?

SB: Copenhagen is a beautiful and idyllic wonderland…but it also has a dark side. Having lived my entire life here, I see both the gorgeous aspects and the terrifying ones. This dichotomy makes it the perfect setting for Louise’s cases. I do enjoy incorporating other Danish and international cities into my books, as well.


MB: I know you’re a big believer in research? Tell us a bit about the ‘Killing Wall’.

SB: I’m a very visual person, and so I don’t create traditional outlines, but I do lay out the plot for each book on coloured note cards arranged on a big whiteboard, which I have come to call the Killing Wall. As each book develops, I research different components and adjust the Killing Wall as needed. As I write, I track my progress through the cards, too.


MB: Did Blue Blood involve a lot of research? I’m wondering how much experience you have of internet dating sites!!??

SB: A lady never kisses and tells! Luckily for you, I do have that dark side… I did quite a lot of research for Blue Blood, including spending a lot of time on online dating sites. I never went so far as to go on a date through one – it might have been a bit awkward bringing my husband along – but I spoke to a number of people who had met their partners (and others) online.

MB: So will your earlier books be coming out here?

SB: I certainly hope so! There is one book that precedes Blue Blood, and then another five after it.


MB: I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with you at various crime conventions all over the world and it’s clear that crime writers – from whichever country – have a unique bond (aside from enjoying a party!). What do you think is so special about the community of crime writers?

SB: We really do have a special connection, and I think that comes in part from our having to lead fairly solitary lives while we’re writing. We’re grateful when we get to meet readers and crime writers in real life! Also, it must be said that we have a superlative sense of humour, not to mention excellent taste in music.

MB: Finally…what are you working on now?

SB: I’m happy to say that at the moment I’m working hard on the eighth Louise Rick novel.

Mark Billingham is the author of eleven bestselling novels and the creator of the Thorne series. He has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier prize for best novel of the year. He lives in North London with his family. Find out more.






Sara Blaedel is the number one Danish bestseller and author of the Detective Louise Rick crime series, which has been published to acclaim around the world. Voted Denmark’s most popular novelist three times since 2007, she is also an ambassador for Save the Children. Sara lives in Copenhagen with her family. Find out more.