Emelie Schepp has worked for over a decade as a project manager in the advertising industry, leading the Coca-Cola account in Sweden. In 1998 she won first prize in the Östgöta Theatre's drama prize competition. Since then she has written two feature screenplays and published two crime novels, Marked for Life and White Tracks, and is at work on a third. Emelie lives in Sweden with her husband and two children.
Marked for Life (MIRA Books; June 14, 2016), is a riveting crime novel from Sweden that introduces American readers to Emelie Schepp, the latest in an impressive corps of Scandinavian writers who have taken the crime fiction genre by storm. With its brooding characters and chilly landscapes providing the unexpected background for a dark tale of human trafficking, this impressive debut is the first in a shocking trilogy from a writer who is being compared with Jo Nesbø and Stieg Larsson. Thanks to Sue Trowbridge for translating this post from Emelie Schepp.
From My Driveway to 29 Countries
Book publishers didn’t have time to look over my first book, Marked for Life. Then I decided to publish it myself. In three years, my books have gone from my driveway to 29 countries, and soon Marked for Life will be released in the United States, a book release that I really look forward to.
Many people dream of writing a book and getting it published. So did I when I worked as a project manager in the advertising industry. But writing a book takes time, and quitting my job to bet everything on writing wasn’t an option. The only free time I could find was in the evenings when the children had gone to sleep. I opted out of TV viewing and surfing the web on my smartphone, and instead sat in front of the computer. No one but my husband knew that I was writing a book. I wrote in secret because I did not want to get a lot of questions like: "How is it going? When will you be finished? And what is it about?" And it is actually a lot more fun to say “I have written a book,” instead of “I'm going to write a book.”
After half a year, Marked for Life was ready, and I sent the manuscript to several publishers. It is said that it will take three months to get a response from Swedish publishers, but it took longer than that. Eventually I got tired of simply waiting and decided to publish the book myself. I read everything I could find online about self-publishing and I decided to not only do a really good job, I decided to become the best at it.
But when the first printing of 5000 paperbacks was delivered to my driveway, I wondered what I had actually gotten myself into. It looked like an incredible number of books. But I rolled up my sleeves and started carrying them from the driveway down to the basement.
I booked a lot of meetings with dealers and worked hard to get them to carry my book. I did quite a bit of promotion on social media and complemented the digital meetings with in-person meetings. I know how important it is to meet readers face to face, and because of that, I set up my own signing tour and traveled around the whole of Sweden. Everything I did led to the 5000 books selling out in a month, and I could order a second printing. When I had sold a record number of books on my own, 40,000 copies in six months, the publishers contacted me and since 2013 I have been a full-time writer.
Today I am very happy and grateful that I can I write whenever I want to and not just in the evenings after the kids have gone to sleep. In Sweden, I have just released my third book in the series, and soon it will be time for readers in the U.S. to meet Jana Berzelius, an odd and complex woman, for the first time. On the one hand, she is a prosecutor working to enforce laws, but on the other hand, she does not hesitate to break them to hide her own dark background. Because of my interest in film, I wanted to create a heroine, a woman whose actions teeter on the edge of what is possible. Whose character will tickle the reader's senses. Who makes the reader astonished, fascinated, and downright angry. The only thing I was certain of was not to make her predictable. You may think that she is unrealistic. But which characters are not?
3 pieces of advice to anyone who wants to publish a book:
1. You need to set aside time to write the book. A quarter hour, a half an hour, one hour: it doesn’t matter, the main thing is that you do it.
2. You should definitely submit to publishers within the genre you are writing in. But if you want to publish the book yourself, learn all you can about self-publishing.
3. Enlist the help of experts such as proofreaders, graphic designers and editors. Your budget will, of course, be a consideration, but if you have spent a lot of time writing a book, you want it to be so good that it will be read.
About Marked for Life:
Jana Berzelius is an ambitious public prosecutor with an icy disposition. When she is assigned the high profile murder case involving Hans Juhlén, the man in charge of asylum issues for the Migration Board, she tackles the investigation with her usual detachment. It is not always smooth sailing for her, working with Detective Chief Inspector Henrik Levin and, most especially with Detective Inspector Mia Bolander, who is a hotheaded as Jana is cool, and as intuitive as Jana is methodical. There are few clues at first—only some threatening papers found hidden among the victim’s papers and the handprint of a child found on a window frame. CCTV footage reveals a young boy fleeing the scene of the crime, but do children commit murder? Later, the body of a boy who looks like the one in the footage is found murdered, too, a blood-stained Glock found beside his body. What’s the story behind this connection? And what do the marks found on the boy’s body tell about his connection to child trafficking?
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