Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Åsa Schwarz: Nephilim

Today I welcome Swedish author Åsa Schwarz. Åsa Schwarz is a contemporary Swedish novelist best known for writing about crime, horror and mysticism. With a degree in Computer System Sciences and a career as an Information Security Consultant, Schwarz creates plots featuring realistic cyber-attacks and digitally street-smart characters. Schwarz made her literary debut in 2005. Since then she has written five critically acclaimed novels. Her stories stand out due to her thorough characterizations and her mix of mystical legends with symbolic puzzles while set in a contemporary city environment. Her novels have been translated into nearly twenty languages and published in four continents. She resides with her husband and two children in Stockholm, Sweden.

Åsa Schwarz:

One day I got an e-mail that would change my life.

It contained a link from my friend Carin about The Nephilim. According to the web site, they were a mixture between human beings and fallen angels, and they are supposed to have been swept away by the Flood. What a novel this could be, wrote Carin. Sure, I thought. But someone else will have to write it. I couldn't see a story angle that interested me enough to want to sit down in front of the computer and start writing.

Days went by and I continued groping among ideas for a story line. I began outlining a novel, only to discard it the following day. I searched for stimulus at libraries and museums, but didn't get any impulses leading anywhere. To say that I was suffering from writer's block would be misleading. I didn't even have a clue what my novel was going to be about. One night the news was buzzing in the background while I cooked dinner. I remember it distinctly. I was expecting my first child and thus continually slightly nauseous, so I had to force myself to chop chicken for the wok. I only wanted to eat mozzarella.

I heard the newscaster say that the UN climate change panel had published a report detailing how much the sea level had already risen. They estimated that the sea level would rise a further few decimeters before 2099. Nobody knew exactly what the consequences of global warming would be, but one thing was certain - there would be a catastrophy.

The sea level is rising, I thought. The sea level is rising. Why did that sound familiar? Where had I read about great bodies of water recently? Suddenly the penny dropped. Carin's e-mail. The Nephilim. The Flood. The world is submerged under water. Is a new Flood on its way? What if The Nephilim weren't swept away by the first Flood? What if they are right here, right now - among us?

Now everything fell into place with astonishing speed. I placed a willful environmentalist in the Old Town of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. With its 15th century houses, old churches, and remnants of old monasteries, this part of town was irresistible. And I named the environmentalist Nova Barakel. She was nineteen years old with a background not even she herself had an inkling of.

I began writing the story at furious speed. Nova breaks into the home of the CEO of Sweden's largest energy company in order to spray paint slogans on the walls. Now one of the greatest of environmental villains will finally get what he deserves. But someone has beaten her to it. In the bedroom she finds the flat's owner brutally murdered, in what looks like a tableau from hell.

She flees the scene but unwittingly leaves forensic evidence behind and is soon a prime suspect with the police. She tries to find out who the murderer is and why he or she seems to be killing people off from her own list of environmental villains. The questions multiply. Why are there constant references to the Flood and Noah's Ark? Who has searched Nova's home? Was her mother's death really an accident? Who is trying to frame Nova for the murders?

I have to stop now, in order not to spoil the story for you. But now, a few years later, the United States is the nineteenth country in which the book is published and I am very curious to see what kind of reception it will get. At the moment of writing I realize that it's been far too long since I visited the museums and shops of New York, the pier in Chicago, and the hills of San Francisco. Hope to see you soon.

Have an enjoyable read!


In her first novel to be launched in America, Nephilim (Stockholm Text, August 15th 2013, $14.95 paperback, $6.99 ebook), Swedish crime novelist Åsa Schwarz delivers a page-turning thriller where a mythical conspiracy battles against environmental criminals.


Kelly Saderholm said...

I have to read this.
Sweden, fallen angels, environmentalism- wow, this will be great!

Barbara said...

I didn't (honestly) like the sound of it particularly, but I read it and it's well done. She doesn't overplay the mythical stuff at the expense of making me care about her main character, who is a terrific creation, and the writing (and translation) really worked for me in spite of a Dan-Brownish sounding storyline.