I recently had the chance to ask a few questions of Emelie Schepp, Swedish crime author of the Jana Berzelius series, and I'm so excited to share our Q&A with you today! If you're looking for a recommendation for an action-packed, thrilling Scandinavian crime series, Schepp's books might be the perfect choice for you. They feature a strong female lead, timely social issues, and totally engaging, fast-paced plotting.
Our Q&A today covers Book 2 in Schepp's series, MARKED FOR REVENGE, which releases 2/28/17 from MIRA Books. If you're curious about Book 1 in the series, MARKED FOR LIFE, you can find my previous content about this excellent introduction to Scandinavian crime at the following links!
Read on for plot information about MARKED FOR REVENGE, a brief author bio, and my Q&A with Emelie!
About MARKED FOR REVENGE (from the publisher):
When a Thai girl overdoses smuggling drugs, the trail points to Danillo, the one criminal MMA-trained public prosecutor Jana Berzelius most wants to destroy. Eager to erase any evidence of her sordid childhood, Berzelius must secretly hunt down this deadly nemesis with whom she shares a horrific past.
Meanwhile, the police are zeroing in on the elusive head of the long-entrenched Swedish narcotics trade, who goes by the name The Old Man. No one has ever encountered this diabolical mastermind in person; he is like a shadow, but a shadow who commands extreme respect. Who is this overarching drug lord? Berzelius craves to know his identity, even as she clandestinely tracks Danillo, who has threatened to out her for who she really is. She knows she must kill him first, before he can reveal her secrets. If she fails, she will lose everything.
As she prepares for the fight of her life, Berzelius discovers an even more explosive and insidious betrayal—one that entangles her inextricably in the whole sordid network of crime.
About Emelie Schepp:
Emelie Schepp is a Swedish author who has written two feature screenplays and published three crime novels, including Marked for Life and White Tracks. Her debut, Marked For Life has now sold over 800,000 copies. Her second novel, White Tracks, was published in May 2015 and has long topped the sales charts. Emelie is a married mother of two children.
Q&A: Emelie Schepp
Crime by the Book: MARKED FOR REVENGE is Book 2 in your series featuring Jana Berzelius, a brilliant and mysterious prosecutor. If readers are new to this series, what background information should they know before they jump in? Do you recommend that they read MARKED FOR LIFE (Book 1) first?
Emelie Schepp: Yes, I do. In Marked for Life there is much to learn about Jana’s hidden past. Jana is brilliant, physically strong and somewhat odd and very secretive. As a child, Jana wakes up at a hospital, not knowing who she is. She grows up and becomes a successful prosecutor. Marked for Life follows Jana’s investigation of a man murdered in his own home, which leads to a mysterious boy. The more Jana finds out about the boy’s background, the more she finds out about her own mysterious past.
I love that my readers are fascinated by Jana. Perhaps it has to do with her personality; that she has two very different sides to herself. On the one hand, she is famous and successful, working hard to maintain law and order in society. And on the other hand she is tough, a fighter who doesn't hesitate to break laws in order to hide the shame of her dark past. Although Jana is not based on one real person, she is based on multiple people I have met, seen on TV and film, and read about or heard about throughout my life.
CBTB: Jana herself is one of my favorite modern crime protagonists. She’s tough, independent, and a fighter – both literally and figuratively – but she also has a more private, sensitive side, as she tries to understand what happened to her in her childhood. What is your personal favorite quality that Jana has?
ES: It is hard for me only to choose one favorite quality. Jana is, as you say, tough, independent, and a fighter, but also private and sensitive. So, her being a multi-faceted character is actually what I love the most. She never bores me.
CBTB: Do you feel that you and Jana have any qualities in common, or is Jana totally her own, independent character?
ES: We do share the independent side and just like her, I also prefer to spend time alone.
When I sleep, I often dream about fighting, just like her. But it is not Jana who is fighting in my dreams, it is me. But other than those similarities, she is her own person.
CBTB: Along with being a brilliant prosecutor, Jana is trained in MMA fighting. Do you have any personal experience with this kind of training? Where did you get the idea for this side of her character?
ES: I have no personal experience with MMA training. Once, when I was about 10 years old I tried out Judo. It was fun, but I thought horseback riding was more fun so I quit Judo and started competing in show jumping instead.
When creating Jana, I wanted a woman who was physically strong. I had read so many books about men who could fight, but almost never about a woman, so I created one who could.
CBTB: Your series deals heavily with social issues. In MARKED FOR LIFE (Book 1), you took on the topic of human trafficking. Now, in MARKED FOR REVENGE, you also deal with the international drug trade. Was this story inspired by current events? For example, did you see a particular story in the news that caught your interest?
ES: It was a story in the news about a man who arrived at a small airport in Sweden who was caught with about 50 capsules of heroine in his stomach that caught my interest. I like the idea of focusing on real-life international issues. I usually get an idea from an article and then I spend many, many hours doing research. I then try to figure out how I can work incorporating parallel real stories and fictional ones into the new novel by challenging Jana personally and professionally.
CBTB: When you began writing Jana’s story, did you always plan for it to be a series of books? Or did the story develop as you continued writing?
ES: I did always plan for the Marked books to be a series. But I never imagined that I would be writing six books about Jana!
I thrive on structure, so for me it was essential to construct an outline for the story as a whole. But even though, for the most part, I know where the story is going, Jana sometimes takes her own path, and the path she takes is almost always better than the one I originally had planned for her.
CBTB: When you’re not working on writing your own books, do you enjoy reading crime books? If so, who are some of your favorite authors?
ES: Yes, I enjoy reading crime books so whenever I get time I read. My favorite authors are Jo Nesbo, Lars Kepler, and Lee Child.
CBTB: What’s next for you? When can readers look forward to the next Jana Berzelius book?
ES: Right now, I am reading, editing and polishing the fourth book in the series. The book will be available in Sweden this summer. Hopefully, it will be available in US next year.
I am really excited that Marked for Revenge is out in the US and I hope my readers enjoy the second book about Jana, with more on the way!
A huge thank-you to Emelie for taking the time to answer my questions, and to her publicist for facilitating this Q&A! I so appreciate Emelie's time, and have loved getting this behind-the-scenes glimpse into MARKED FOR REVENGE. I loved Book 1 in the series, MARKED FOR LIFE - it's an action-packed, thrilling Scandinavian crime novel that serves as the perfect introduction to the genre. I'll be sharing my review of MARKED FOR REVENGE on its publication day!
For more reading about Emelie and her books, check out her website (it's in Swedish, but Google translate works wonders!) and her author page at her US publisher, Harlequin Books.