This past weekend, I traveled to Denmark for Krimimessen 2017, an annual crime book festival held in Horsens. Before heading out to Horsens for the festival, I was fortunate enough to spend a night at the gorgeous Kurhotel Skodsborg, a stunning hotel located just a bit outside Copenhagen. This hotel hosted an evening of crime fiction discussion between Sara Blaedel and Tess Gerritsen—a fantastic event I was lucky enough to attend! I had such a wonderful time at this event, and during my stay at the hotel as a whole, and I’m so excited to share all the details with you!
First things first: a little glimpse into the hotel where the event took place. I was utterly blown away by this place—I felt so fortunate to spend a night there! Kurhotel Skodsborg is impeccably decorated, warm, and welcoming; plus it has a fantastic spa (read all about my sauna experience in my full travel journal, which will be posted on CBTB soon!) and it hosts Nordic Noir author events with Sara Blaedel. In short, it's my idea of the perfect vacation spot!
I arrived totally jet-lagged and tired, and was welcomed with coffee in my room—a room which just so happened to have a stunning view of the ocean. Click on the photos below to enlarge them!
After relaxing for a while, I did a little exploring of the hotel's lounge area. It's simply stunning, and I made myself cozy by the fireplace to read. I learned all about the Danish concept of "hygge" on this trip, and Kurhotel Skodsborg absolutely exudes this sense of coziness. The hotel lounge is exactly what I picture when I imagine "hygge": it's a place where you just want to relax, sip lattes, and make yourself comfortable.
HYGGE: A FEELING OF WARMTH AND TOGETHERNESS; CREATING A WARM ATMOSPHERE AND ENJOYING THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE WITH GOOD PEOPLE.
After soaking up the beautiful atmosphere of the hotel, it was time to get ready for the evening's event!
NORDIC NOIR AT KURHOTEL SKODSBORG
A bit of background information about this event: Sara Blaedel periodically hosts author events at Kurhotel Skodsborg, most often with fellow Nordic crime writers. She has previously interviewed Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Katrine Engberg, and many others in this setting. The event itself takes place in a beautifully-decorated room in the hotel, and it's filled to the brim with enthusiastic crime readers! There were so many elements to this event that I loved, but probably my favorite was seeing the genuine excitement of the audience. It's such an amazing experience to be in this intimate setting with such talented, world-renowned crime writers, and I loved that the audience was clearly engaged with and excited about this opportunity. There's nothing better than being surrounded by people who are as passionate about crime books as you are!
At the event I attended, Sara interviewed American crime writer and international bestseller Tess Gerritsen. It was an absolutely fantastic event—Sara and Tess talked for over an hour, and the time just flew by! Tess is a fantastic storyteller—we were all laughing along with her stories, and Sara did an excellent job asking questions that drew these stories out. The event was informative and entertaining, and most of all, it felt truly genuine: Sara and Tess seemed to enjoy each other's company so much, which made for a great audience experience.
Below you'll find my notes from the event! There was so much information to capture, and the notes will give you a sense of what a thorough, thoughtful, and all-around enjoyable interview it was to listen to.
SARA BLAEDEL INTERVIEWS TESS GERRITSEN
- Tess grew up on horror movies! Her mom loved them. As Tess put it, "I spent my childhood in movie theaters screaming."
- Tess was exposed to a homicide when she was young. They had a family friend who, when she was 18, was arrested for murdering his sister-in-law in a very brutal way—he tortured her and drowned her in the toilet. For the rest of her life, Tess wondered how she hadn't seen this coming. She had known this man so well—how did she miss the signs? This experience made her realize that maybe we only see the side of people that we want to. That's what she believes crime novels are about: which friendly face in our lives hides a monster?
- Tess grew up reading Nancy Drew.
- She wrote her first mystery when she was 7!
- Her ideas come from self-proclaimed odd places! Sometimes from reading the newspaper, or even watching a bad movie on TV and wondering if she could do a better job telling that story.
- Tess was a physician before she became a writer. (Which influences her work now as she writes medical thrillers.)
- She began her writing career writing Harlequin romances!
- So how did Tess switch from romance to these tough thrillers? She felt restricted by the rules that went along with writing Harlequin romances, and she happened to have a conversation with a homicide detective who told her about an ongoing case where kids were disappearing from the streets in Russia, and people thought they were being kidnapped for organs. This gave her an idea about a crime novel on organ harvesting. Funnily enough, when she told her agent this idea, her agent actually told her she had to be a doctor to write that story—that she would need a medical background to make it convincing! Tess hadn't previously told her agent that she used to be a medical doctor... so imagine her agent's surprise to learn this! Knowing Tess' background, her agent was completely sold on the idea. This idea became her book HARVEST.
- Her goal is to write 4 pages per day.
- She has a weird habit when she writes: she writes her first draft with pen and paper, on unlined paper. She feels a connection with the page itself, and also if she sees her words on the computer screens she just keeps going back to rewrite and rewrite. But when her words are on the page she just keeps going forward. She shared that writing on real paper feels a bit like "calling up the 5 year old within you."
- She doesn't listen to music while writing - she needs silence so she can hear the voices of her characters in her mind.
- Her biggest tip for aspiring writers is that you need to wait to start writing until you can hear the narrator's voice in your head. Does he or she talk quickly or slowly? Does he or she have an accent? Once you can hear the voice that vividly, that's when you know you have a story.
RIZZOLI & ISLES - BOOKS
- The books were never meant to be a series! She began writing THE SURGEON because she heard the voice of the killer in her head very clearly. She was just telling his story, not planning a whole series.
- Jane Rizzoli was supposed to die in THE SURGEON. Because of this, Tess didn't think she had to make Jane likable. In THE SURGEON, Jane is mean, and she's jealous of beautiful women.
- But over the course of writing THE SURGEON, Tess got to know Jane - how smart she is and how hard she works and how life has been unfair to her. So then Tess couldn't kill her! So she wrote a second book with Jane (THE APPRENTICE), and then introduced Maura Isles in that book too - and then became more curious about Maura too, and had to keep on going.
- Tess sees herself more as Maura than as Jane. She put a lot of her own life into Maura.
RIZZOLI & ISLES - TV SHOW
- Tess knew that there would be changes when her books were adapted for TV - she was prepared for that.
- The biggest change is definitely in the way the main characters were cast for TV. Jane in the books is very plain. And in the TV show they cast a former model! But that's television, that's just how it goes.
- In the books, Tess always imagined Maura Isles looking like Catherine Zeta Jones. But at the end of the day, it was all about the on-screen chemistry between the actresses, not as much about sticking exactly to their appearance in the books.
- Every step of the way, Tess was surprised that it became a success. The chances are so low in Hollywood.
- How was it for her to watch the show? It was surreal for Tess to see her characters come to life - even if they looked different than they did in her mind while writing the books.
- Tess had a cameo in the show in the last season!
- Has watching the show influenced Tess' writing about her characters? She doesn't describe Jane's appearance anymore, because now everyone sees her as beautiful!
- Fun fact: Tess is now writing a mystery that she'll be publishing under the name Maura Isles, because at the end of the TV show, Isles wants to become a crime writer!
- Tess and her son have made a horror movie! It's called Island Zero. It's currently making the rounds at film festivals in the US! It's inspired by the "creature features" that Tess grew up on.
- While making the movie, they had to find a way to burn down a house on a budget for the big climax scene of the film! (This is one of my favorite stories from the event!) They live in a small town in Maine, and one of the benefits is that everyone knows everyone else. They asked around, and learned that someone in the town actually needed to have a house demolished - and he would let them do it for free! They contacted the local fire department to see if they would help keep everything under control, and they agreed. So the fire department used the house for training for a few weeks, and then on the night of the house burning, half the town came out to watch! They had cameras rolling and a drone filming overhead, and they managed to get their house burning scene on a budget.
- Tess and her son are now working on a documentary. It's a totally unique subject - it looks at the relationship between humans and pigs throughout the centuries.
- Plus, of course, she's still writing!
Learn More About Sara & Tess
ABOUT SARA BLAEDEL:
Sara Blaedel is one of Denmark's most successful crime writers, the author of seven bestselling novels featuring police detective Louise Rick.
Sara has come full circle from her childhood days of hearing her mother read Agatha Christie aloud. Her novels are published in seventeen countries and appear in fifteen languages, and the film rights have been optioned. Her hard work and determination have branded her the "Queen of Crime" in Denmark.
To contact Sara or learn more about her books, visit www.sarablaedel.com.
ABOUT TESS GERRITSEN:
Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.
Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world. Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.
Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine. To learn more about her books, visit www.tessgerritsen.com.
Many, many thanks to Sara for inviting me to this fantastic event! It was the perfect way to start my trip to Denmark. Another huge thanks to the hotel for such an exceptional stay—I had such a wonderful experience, and am so thankful for their hospitality!