Showing posts from October, 2020

Dinner, elves and Björk

Last week, I told you how I visited Iceland on a book tour in 1995.  I had dinner the first evening with my publishers Ólafur, Pétur and three of their colleagues.   On the way, I spotted my first tree!  It was, squat, no more than ten feet high, its naked, twisted branches shivering in the front garden of a small house.  The house itself seemed to be constructed of white-painted corrugated iron with a red-painted iron roof.  Indeed the hill in the centre of Reykjavík seemed to be covered in these brightly painted toy metal houses, gleaming in the evening sunshine.  It was all rather jolly.   We went to a crowded restaurant and ate delicious fish. By this time, I was becoming used to dinners with publishers. Publishers are by and large well-read, friendly, interesting people. The talk often revolves around books, new and old, and people. Despite the bad press they sometimes get, people in book marketing love books as much as editors do. Elves  The person in charge of marketing my b

A book tour in the land of lava and tin houses

  If you ever fly to Iceland from Europe, be sure to book yourself into a window seat on the right-hand side of the aeroplane. Your first view of Iceland will be unforgettable. My first landing at Keflavík airport was in the autumn of 1995. My debut novel, a financial thriller entitled  Free To Trade , had been published in January that year to an acclaim which was both satisfying and bewildering. I was lucky: it was the right book at the right time for the publishing world, and the following twelve months exploded in the competing demands of a frenzy of publicity and a contractual requirement to sit down and write a second book. I received invitations from foreign publishers to travel to Australia, the United States, France, Norway, Denmark, Holland. And Iceland. I was urged by my agent to accept most of these invitations, but I didn’t really have to go to Iceland.  Although its population are avid readers, there are only three hundred thousand of them; it’s scarcely an important mark

Writing in Ice

WRITING IN ICE is the story of how I fell in love with Iceland: a memoir of researching and writing a detective series set in the Land of Fire and Ice. The blog will describe the landscape, society, history and people of Iceland as seen through the eyes of a writer researching a crime novel. There will be posts on crime and the police, language, the sagas, volcanoes, the financial crash and the pots and pans revolution, folklore and elves, the sagas, the rapid modernisation of the country in the twentieth century, sheep farming, fishing and the Viking discovery of America. All these will relate to researching the characters, settings and plots of my Magnus novels. I intend to show what is involved in writing a crime series set in a foreign country: how to come up with a detective, how to describe landscape, how to invent characters, how to plot and how to revise. The Icelanders’ have a saying: ‘ Glöggt er gests augad ,’ which means something like ‘Clear is a guest’s eye’. The idea is