Friday, March 24, 2023

And They Say Crime Doesn’t Pay? Guest Post by Stefán Máni

Stefán Máni: And they say crime doesn’t pay?
I have always been interested crime and criminals. Not merely interested but fascinated. Reading about crime pleased me. And yes, it was a guilty pleasure. Crimes and the criminals that committed them were like a magnet, like a black hole that sucked me towards the darkness that was hidden within. In the darkness were secrets, questions and sometimes answers. How did they do it? Why did they do it? Who are they? What drives them? How did they become what they are? Etc, etc …

I began to collect newspaper clippings from the age of six. Missing persons, accidents, terrorism … murder. I grew up in the 70s. There was a lot of terrorism going on then; IRA, Baader-Meinhof, and others. Iceland was quite peaceful at the time, and still is, especially compared to the continents on both sides of the Atlantic. But there were strange missing persons cases, drug smuggling and occasional bank robbery and murder. Even today, a murder is a big thing in Iceland. But it happens every year, usually more than once and more than twice. Living in a peaceful country makes you sensitive to violence and murder. A single act of violence can have a huge inpact on the whole community. When something bad happens, it’s non-stop on the news and in the papers. And that means a lot of newspaper clippings! 

I started writing at the age of 23, after losing my job in the fishing industry. The first ten years of my career as a writer I published five novels. The first four were mostly stories about loners and workers. I was a huge fan of Charles Bukowski (and still am) but I was not as funny as him – and not as wild, I guess. My fifth novel was to become my first best seller. When it was published, it was almost an overnight sensation. It was a crime novel based on my stack of newspaper clippings about two unsolved bank robberies. What I did was to absorb everything I could get my hands on about these robberies (I even interviewed criminals, inside and out of prison), and I didn’t stop until I had figured out how these crimes were planned and executed. In the book, committed these crimes through made up persons, and got away with them – just like the unknown perpetrators had done. The book was called Black’s Game. In 2012 a movie came out, based on the book. Black’s Game, the movie, was a box office hit from day one. Last fall, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the film, it returned  to the theaters and ran for three months straight. Now the plan is to make two more movies, a sequel and a prequel. 

The  success of Black’s Game opened my eyes. I had always been fascinated with crime. I was a crime buff. It was nothing to be ashamed off. My vocation was to write about crime! Since then, I have written many best sellers, all about crime, cops and criminals. I have also created the most popular character in Icelandic literature – detective Hordur Grímsson. The Grímsson Series is the number one crime series in Iceland, and has been from the start. Recently I published my first Grímsson Series titles in the USA. That was a big step for me and my career.

And they say crime doesn’t pay? 

Stefán Máni is the Dark prince of Nordic noir. He grew up in a small village on the cold and harsh Snaefellsnes-peninsula in West-Iceland. He was an avid book reader from an early age, but he didn’t think or believe he would or could become a writer myself one day. He dropped out of school at the age of 17, worked in the fishing industry, and travelled abroad whenever he had saved enough money. Driving around The States and going to concerts was his favorite thing to do. In 1991 he drank beer with Layne Staley and saw Nirvana live before they became the biggest thing on the planet. 


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