Friday 30 June 2017

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen #BlogTour @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank...
Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum's life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he's accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material... and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.

Wolves In The Dark by Gunnar Staalesen was published by Orenda Books on June 15th.

I'm delighted to welcome the author, Gunnar Staalesen to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. He's talking about; My Life in Books:

My Life In Books ~ Gunnar Staalesen

I have loved books from before I was able to read them myself. 
In the first years of my life, television was a dream of the future, or something we saw in a Disney cartoon. In Norway we had the radio and only one channel that anyone listened to: NRK (The Norwegian Broadcasting Company). Early in the morning there was a programme they called The Children’s Hour (although it didn’t last more than twenty minutes). 

As part of this programme, grown-up writers read their stories; stories that were later published as books. Many of these were original Norwegian books, but one of my very first favorites was the first Norwegian translation of A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh (‘Ole Brumm’ as he was called in our language). It remains a book I still love, and I even think that the laconic comments of the donkey are one of the inspirations for how my private eye hero, Varg Veum, speaks.

Other early favorites of mine were the Norwegian folk fairy tales collected by Asbjørnsen & Moe, probably because they have a lot of trolls in them!

When I started to read myself, among other things I picked up two Nordic masters: Astrid Lindgren from Sweden, with her varied books for children, and some years later one of my all-time favorites: Tove Jansson from Finland, with her poetic, philosophical and fascinating stories from Moomin Valley.

Among the books passed around by the boys in the street in Bergen where I grew up were Norwegian translations of the long Hardy Boys series. I think these gave me my first experience of how cliff-hangers function: It was almost impossible to put the books down before you had finished the last chapter; a very good way to train young people to become avid readers. But I also read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books about Tarzan, as well as plenty of classic authors: James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne and Charles Dickens. 
Dickens was an important influence later in life too, and I still have fond memories of The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and Great Expectations

Another hero from these years were Alexandre Dumas; the whole series about The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo were entertaining, filled with suspense and even instructive for a young boy like me, who was always very interested in history. 

And then, not to forget what a pleasure it was to read my first book by Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles, which drew me into the atmosphere of the very best crime novels from its first chapter.
I have read a lot of books and still read every day. Some of my early Norwegian favourites were Knut Hamsun and Amalie Skram; the latter would be a classic, international name if her books had been translated into, say, English when she wrote them, in the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century. I have adapted her major work, The Hellemyr People, twice for the theatre in Bergen – the second time as a musical.

I have always preferred writers who tell a good story and have important things to say about human existence. So it’s not a big surprise that I enjoyed Hemingway, who had a great influence on many of those who followed him. I also read Faulkner, admiring his experimental way of telling some very important stories about life in the twentieth century.

When I was writing my very first books, I was inspired by the Beat Generation, and the American writer, Jack Kerouac. But then I turned to crime fiction.

I had read crime since I was a child, all the classics from Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Quentin Patrick and Earl Stanley Gardner, not to forget John Dickson Carr and A Burning Court, which, of course, is one of the best crime novels ever written. 

As a grown-up reader I turned to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, who turned the American private eye novel into perfect literature. As a Scandinavian it was impossible in those days not to be impressed and influenced by the first books by the Swedish couple Sjöwall & Wahlöö, who, with their series about Martin Beck and his colleagues, changed modern crime fiction forever. The tradition these Swedes started can be seen in so much contemporary crime literature from their Nordic successors, such as Henning Mankell, StiegLarsson, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbø and many others, as well as another favorite of mine, Ian Rankin and the marvellous series of books about Edinburgh and the Scottish relative of Martin Beck, John Rebus.

Among the books that are close to my heart is How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar. This combination of a private eye novel, whodunit and psychological thriller is a book I always have at the top of my list if I’m asked about the best crime novels of all time – together with The Long Goodbye by Chandler and, as already mentioned, A Burning Court, which in Norway has the even more exciting title Sort messe (‘Black Mass’).

I am only sorry that life is too short: there are so many books I would like to read, and so many that I would like to read again, but there are not enough years, days or hours to fulfill my lust for reading, which started when I was just a kid and which will endure the rest of my life. 

Gunnar Staalesen ~ June 2017 

Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers. Don Bartlett is the foremost translator of Norwegian, responsible for the multaward- winning, bestselling books by Jo Nesbo, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Per Pettersen. It is rare to have a translator who is as well-known and highly regarded as the author.

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