Today I’m delighted to feature author Lilja Sigurðardóttir. I was fortunate to meet Lilja earlier this year when she appeared at the Manchester Orenda Roadshow. Multi-talented, Lilja writes for stage and screen as well as being a leading light of Icelandic Noir.
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written six crime novels, with Snare, the first in the Reykjavík Noir series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap was published in 2018, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. In 2018, Cage won Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year. The film rights for the series have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
So over to Lilja
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
It’s a heartache – Bonnie Tyler. I connect this song to my early childhood in Akranes, a village in South-West Iceland. In the memory I play in the window sill of our living room with some earthworms I have dug up from the garden. My mother is cleaning and sings happily with Bonnie Tyler on the radio as she hasn’t seen the mess I’ve made.
Take a chance on me – ABBA. This could be any other ABBA song really as it was really popular when I lived in Sweden when I was 5-7 years old. I named my barbie dolls Agnetha and Frida and I loved the music even if I did not understand the lyrics. Later when I understood the lyrics I appreciated ABBA even more, so much so that I sometimes use their song names to end my books. Take a chance on me ends my book Cage that is due out in English in October by Orenda books.
La llorona – Chavela Vargas. I could name any cover of this popular Mexican folk song but I love this version from the film Frida. I lived in Mexico for a couple of years as a child and this is one of my favourite songs from there. It is ghostly and tragic and still has a good portion of the death worshipping that is so noticable in Mexican culture.
I get a kick out of you – Ella Fitzgerald. I love all of Ella Fitzgerald’s Cole Porter songs. It is something I don’t tire listening to. This kind of music I love listening too while cooking or just while deflating after a long day.
Heyr Himnasmiður – Heimir men’s choir. An Icelandic hymn to the poem by Kolbeinn Tumason from early Christianity in Iceland. In the text the poet asks the ‘smith of the heavens´ (himnasmiður) for help and there is just something meditative about it so it is one of those songs that are so wonderful to write to. For a very cool version google metal band Arstidir singing it in a train station.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Coffee. It is the elixir of life isn’t it?
A computer. My handwriting is so bad that I would not understand my own manuscripts if I didn’t have a word processor. And living without writing is not really living.
Television. I LOVE watching television just as much as I love reading as it is a handy medium to bring you stories and we all love stories. I can be without it for a certain time but I could not see myself living with out for a long period. As I am also a screenwriter for TV I am lucky enough to be able to categorize watching TV as ‘work’.
Plants. The color green of plants recharge me mentally as well as physically. I find the long hard winters of Iceland difficult to bear as the flora of the country sleeps for more than half the year so I try my best to grow plants indoors with sunlight-lamps and nutrients.
Crime fiction. It gives me so much joy reading it as well as writing it!
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Keep on writing but please don’t publish everything you write.
Learn your French.
Don’t trust that horse.
Skip the shoulder pads.
This too shall pass and everything will be better.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I get a new tattoo every time I finish a book (or a stageplay or a screenplay)
I love to cook. It is my relaxation and has a therapeutic effect on me.
I like hot climates. I am more sensitive to cold than heat, which might seem strange for an Icelander.
I like to include echoes of folklore in my crime novels, old Icelandic tales of hidden people or Mexican witches or something like that. I love it when readers spot the tales!
I love Shakespeare plays. I try to go to as many productions of his work as I possibly can.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
Learning better French.
Learning better Danish.
Getting to the level of Spanish that I can speak in it about my books.
Writing a whole (at least 6 episode) original TV drama series.
Writing a theatre stage play for children.
Muchas gracias por participar Lilja, I’d also like to improve my Spanish so that’s about my limit for this feature. It was great to discover more about you. I love your music choices and I can guarantee everyone will be heading over to Google to look for the Arstidir version of Heyr Himnasmiður out of curiosity. Of course we also want to know the story behind not trusting the horse as well! I really hope you get to achieve your bucket list items, the big question is does a 6 episode series count as one tattoo or 6!!
Click on image for non-affiliated buying link.
After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash.
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.
As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.
With a shocking crescendo, the lives of these characters collide, as drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy
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