Monday, February 12, 2024

Interview with Author Pia Berg



1.     What inspired you to write this book? I have always been fond of reading good crime novels. I have also been fond of reading very different types of crime novels. A writer I have been following recently, the Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason, writes very different sort of books: Some of his books follow the members of a local police force and focuses on local crimes, like theft, violence and manslaughter. Another type of his books brings in the historical background of crimes, that is located another time and elsewhere in the world, like the era of the Cold War, the leftist movements of the 70ies and the ties to Soviet Communism. I think Oblivion is one of his best books; a book that connects the espionage of the Cold War to Iceland of today.  I have also read Frederic Forsyth, and his books The Odessa File and Icon have also been in the back of my head while writing this book.


2.      What exactly is it about and who is it written for? What the book is about: Iris is a Swedish, young historian who is heading towards Germany to work as a research assistant at the Institute of Historical Research. This institute was founded by a German Jewish survivor after WW2, and its main purpose is to produce research on WW2 and its consequences.  One of her colleagues is a young researcher, Gert Winter, whose research interests concern neo-Nazism. As part of his project, he is interviewing young neo-Nazis. Eventually, he also gets the idea of going undercover in neo-Nazi groups, as a “secret agent” to find out how they really think. He decides to hide his plans from his superiors but involves Iris in his plans. She warns him about the dangers of “going undercover” but Gert does not listen to her. He believes that he is perfectly disguised. He is wrong.  One day, Gert is killed. Then, the Institute becomes a target as well, and Iris and two of her colleagues need to flee the place. The book is written for people like me: people who enjoy reading different types of crime novels and political thrillers, and also like

to learn something new…about history, different cultures or about the thoughts, emotions and reactions of different personalities.


3.     What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? The story is about Nazism and neo-Nazism, and history (WW2) plays a major role in the book. It is important reminding ourselves of what happened, since it may happen again, in a quite different form. However, I also hope people will find the storyline intriguing.


4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? The title was one of the first things I thought of. The story starts with a young woman who doesn’t expect to face any dangerous events the next coming months. Yet she is confronted with the sense of danger in her gut quite early in the story. And the picture I chose for the cover design is a picture of the German Reichstag in Berlin, taken in end of WW2, and I thought that the picture suited my book’s storyline very well. The picture is from 

5.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?

I start with some general ideas before I start writing. A rough outline of what is going to happen. However, I also expect the story to take some unexpected turns…the people I invent start to live their own lives, so to say. It is important to have some general ideas, but also to stay flexible. Then: when I start creating different persons, I am always very careful about choosing personal traits that makes them clearly different from my family members, friends, and work colleagues. Sometimes I use a combination of traits from different persons or think of persons in different movies I have seen.


6.     What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think when your e-book publishing industry is heading?  I have heard that the pandemic made people read more than before, both physical books and ebooks, and hope that those trends stay strong in the future as well. 


7.     Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?  Yes, I think that it is easier to write when one gets older and can lean on a variety of life experiences. The different jobs I have had as a young student and adult have been valuable, since I have met a lot of different people.


8.     How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? I think that writers of today have become better at describing people psychologically, although Agatha Christie also gave some very detailed descriptions of the persons and personal traits in her books. I like to do the same: trying to give people access to the feelings and motivations of different people, while also giving them a thrilling storyline.


9.     What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? English is not my mother tongue, so one of the challenges was my use of “everyday language” in my book. I had to choose between American and British English. So, I chose British English since it seems to be more standardized.


10.  If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? Out of curiosity, maybe? Sometimes I try out unknown authors, and if I like them very well, I look for other books the author has written. I hope that several readers like my book, and that they want me to write other ones.


About The Author: The author is Scandinavian by origin: Born in Sweden but has been living in Norway most of her life. Learning more about history is one of her hobbies, especially modern history, although she chose to study other subjects at the university and ended up with a degree in philosophy (Mphil). Reading crime novels/thrillers is another of her hobbies, and she decided, long time ago, to write one on her own. And here it is. 

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