Wednesday Windback with Lilja Sigurðardóttir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks

Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Lilja Sigurðardóttir which was first posted in June 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Lilja’s latest publications. Lilja is an Icelandic crime-writer born in 1972. She is the author of novels, stage plays, audio series and screenplays. Lilja´s latest book Red as Blood is the second in a series of thrillers featuring financial investigator Áróra and police detective Daníel.

Over to Lilja:

Which five 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.


What five things (apart from family and friends) would you 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!

Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?

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!

Tell us five 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.

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

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.

Lilja’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

Standalone

Betrayal

Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.

But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?

As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

Cold as Hell (An Áróra Investigation Book 1)

Icelandic sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries and aren‘t on speaking terms, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to find her sister. But she soon realises that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without trace. 

As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is led into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation. 

Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, as she tries to track her sister’s movements, and begins to tail Björn – but she isn’t the only one watching…

Slick, tense, atmospheric and superbly plotted, Cold as Hell marks the start of a riveting, addictive new series from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Red as Blood (An Áróra Investigation Book 2)

When entrepreneur Flosi arrives home for dinner one night, he discovers that his house has been ransacked, and his wife Gudrun missing. A letter on the kitchen table confirms that she has been kidnapped. If Flosi doesn’t agree to pay an enormous ransom, Gudrun will be killed. 

Forbidden from contacting the police, he gets in touch with Áróra, who specialises in finding hidden assets, and she, alongside her detective friend Daniel, try to get to the bottom of the case without anyone catching on.

Meanwhile, Áróra and Daniel continue the puzzling, devastating search for Áróra’s sister Ísafold, who disappeared without trace. As fog descends, in a cold and rainy Icelandic autumn, the investigation becomes increasingly dangerous, and confusing. 

Chilling, twisty and unbearably tense, Red as Blood is the second instalment in the riveting, addictive An Áróra Investigation series, and everything is at stake…

Snare (Reykjavik Noir Book 1)

A young mother resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, as she struggles to keep custody of her son, with devastating results … First in the addictive, award-winning Reykjavik Noir Trilogy by the Queen of Iceland Noir.

After a messy divorce, 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.

Trap (Reykjavik Noir Book 2)

When Sonja’s son is kidnapped by her ruthless ex-husband, she’s thrust back into the world of cocaine smuggling, but this time she’s got a plan of her own… High-stakes jeopardy presides in book two of the dark and original, nail-bitingly fast-paced Reykjavik Noir trilogy…

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…

Set in Reykjavik – still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption and the aftermath of the banking crisis – Trap is an award-winning, deliciously dark and outstandingly original slice of Nordic Noir, from one of Iceland’s finest crime writers.

Cage (Reykjavik Noir Book 3)

Drugs, smuggling, big money and political intrigue in Iceland rally with love, passion, murder and betrayal until the winner takes all … in the masterful, explosive conclusion to the award-winning Reykjavík Noir trilogy…
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…

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