Sara Blaedel is the number one Danish bestseller and author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. 

Her books are published in thirty-eight countries and over 3 million copies of Blaedel’s books have been sold in Denmark alone.

Her latest novel, A HARMLESS LIE, was published on March 22. You can read my review of A HARMLESS LIE here. It’s the tenth book in her bestselling Louise Rick series.

Connect with Sara Blaedel:

More Books by Sara Blaedel

Louise Rick Series


Please note, I use an automated transcription software with 80% accuracy and only a light edit by a human, so there might be mistakes.

[00:00:00.370] – Alan Petersen
You are listening to Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where I interview writers of mysteries, thrillers and suspense books. I’m your host, Alan Petersen, and this is episode number 183. In this episode of the podcast will be meeting Sarah Blaedel, who is a number one Danish best seller and author of the number one international best selling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in 38 countries and have sold over 3 million copies in Denmark alone. Her latest novel, A Harmless Lie, will be published on March 22. I really had a good time talking with Sarah. I really love books set in other countries, police procedures set in other countries, like in Sarah’s Denmark. Jo Nesbo comes to mind and there’s several others out there that I like. So it’s a lot of fun to read those. I read A Harmless Lie and enjoyed it a lot. Highly recommend that you go check it out. It’s out now. So stay tuned for that interview coming up here in a second. Just a quick reminder, please interview this podcast and go check out all my links over at Thrillingreads.com/links I put everything up there on one page so you can go check it out and really appreciate your support of the podcast. All right. Here is my interview with Sarah Blaedel who is the number one Danish bestseller and author of the number one international best selling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in 38 countries and over 3 million copies have been sold in Denmark alone. Her latest novel, A Harmless Lie, will be published on March 22. Welcome to podcast, Sara.

[00:01:39.950] – Sara Blædel
Oh, thank you so very much. And thank you for the wonderful introduction.

[00:01:43.340] – Alan Petersen
Oh, you’re very welcome and Congrats. Today’s your launch day when recording this.

[00:01:48.520] – Sara Blædel
Thank you. Yesterday is a big, big day. I’ve been so excited about it. We look so much forward.

[00:01:54.010] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. And then so you’ve been publishing your books have been published in Denmark for many years. Is there a lot of differences between the US and the English market or is it all just the same?

[00:02:06.210] – Sara Blædel
Yeah, actually, all of my books are published in the US market as well, but it struck me every time. It’s so fascinating that people so far away from Denmark enjoying my books that are set in Denmark and some of them are set outside Denmark in small towns that you will never know about if it wasn’t because of Luis Rick. So I’m very flattered that people like to read books, even that it sits in such a small country as Denmark.

[00:02:41.380] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I think it’s a lot of fun. I love reading books in other countries. And reading about the police procedures in other countries is so fascinating. And my great grandfather immigrated from the German Denmark area there. in the Schleswig area. Yeah. With my last name Peterse people are like, oh, you must be Danish.

[00:03:05.750] – Sara Blædel
It’s very Danish. It’s very Danish. Yes.

[00:03:09.090] – Alan Petersen
It’s kind of funny. So I love reading your book. That’s very interesting and a very awesome thriller. Highly recommended to the listeners. But can you tell us about your background before you started writing and publishing these crime fiction novels?

[00:03:21.960] – Sara Blædel
I’ve been working as a journalist for many years. But even before that, I’m an educated waiter. So I didn’t see myself end up in being a writer or in this business at all. But in the beginning of the I think it was 93. I founded my own publishing house in Denmark, only publishing crime fiction, but translated crime fiction, American and English, British crime fiction. But the whole idea, I have to say that I’m a huge crime fiction lover. I’ve been reading crime fiction way back. And before that I was reading mysteries for children, for example, init Brighton and the famous Pipe or Nancy Drew mysteries. And the whole thing about me and books and crime fiction is connected because I have Dyslexia. Not in a very heavy grade, but I have Dyslexia. So reading has never been easy for me. And writing was not a favorite thing in school. But being able to read about children in a mystery was probably the smartest thing my mother ever did because she found out that my mother figured out that if she could get me curious and if she could put me into stories where there was a motor, the flood is a motor so I couldn’t just skip it. I needed to find out what was going on. I need to find out why is the light in the Lighthouse that night? What is going on there? So she tricked me a little bit. And I’m very grateful for that because when you’re dealing struggling with Dyslexia, it’s very easy to just skip reading. But of course, when you’re going to school, then you probably also remember in school when you were pointed out and you were the next to read out loud. I hated it. I mean, it could have killed everything, all the joy of books and that it could just have put everything down for me. So being able to see myself in these mystery books for children was my way into start loving reading. But the whole idea of mystery and crime fiction was that someone else was writing it. I didn’t plan that until a day where there was a time when I was working as a journalist and everything was so stressful. We have a production. I was working on a television show, had a production. Deadline was coming up. People were madly just running around. And I found out my way to deal or to avoid stress was to create a space in my head where I just start telling myself a story. Very simple. I didn’t close my eyes so people couldn’t see that I wasn’t listening to what was going on around me. Like when my mother was reading stories for me, I just stopped telling myself a story. And I think it went on for three or four months because before I realized that he is actually a book, you’re coming up with a story that has to be put on paper before your head explode. So that was my way into it. I didn’t decide to become a writer. It was more like avoiding to get stressed. I was curious. I was so curious about the story, so I had to continue.

[00:07:24.650] – Alan Petersen
Was that book published, that first one that you worked on?

[00:07:27.710] – Sara Blædel
Yes. That’s actually the first Louise Rick novel.

[00:07:31.200] – Alan Petersen
Oh, wow.

[00:07:33.530] – Sara Blædel
I mean, the story. And Louise Rick found me and I didn’t even see it coming until three or four, maybe five months into it. And the thing about being Dyslexia, it’s not like a handicap for me. So I cannot write. I can write, but it’s not every word that I spelled totally correct every time. But it’s not like it’s not possible for me to write because it is. I just have to deal with it taking maybe a little more. I need a good editor. Let me just say it like that.

[00:08:10.770] – Alan Petersen
What do you use to write your books? Is it like to use like word or something else?

[00:08:14.580] – Sara Blædel
I use words and probably it could be much more sophisticated or smarter. I could use a writer’s program. There is one called Scriven. I’m just writing my books in Words.

[00:08:28.700] – Alan Petersen
Your 10th book in the series difference between writing the first one now writing the 10th one, and how has it been seeing your characters grow over the years? Can you tell us a little bit about that process?

[00:08:40.740] – Sara Blædel
It was interesting because when I was working on my first novel, I did not see it as the first book in a series. I was just happy to see that I could create a story and I could put it on paper and I could go from A to B, I could solve it, I could finish it, and I could have it published now so many years later and so many books later, it could be smart or clever to say, oh, I knew from the beginning that this and that would happen to my character. But the truth is that I didn’t know that because I didn’t know that I was going to write more about her. So my first book was probably very much just a jump into something I didn’t know what was. Now I’m very much more aware that it’s important for me to have a background story for all the characters in the book because it makes it easier to drag in during the story. I mean, if you create something interesting in people’s background or give them something interesting that you can lift up and put in the story later, it will help you a lot. I did not know that to begin with, and I’ve been much more aware that the more specific I am when I created my character, it’s not like I want to put everything, every detail about every character into the book. But for me, it’s extremely helpful that I create the character’s background for myself before I start writing it. And I give them some skills, or I give them a way to talk, or I give them personality, because when I put them in the situation and when I start writing, it makes it very easy to see how they will react in specific situations. I did not know that to begin with. So it’s really worth for me to spend time building up the characters. And also I spent a lot of time doing my research. And that is not just like a show off thing. It’s not just to show you and my readers that I’m able to research. And I’m good at researching it’s because I want to blur the line between fiction and fact. I want to show my readers that I’m on top of my game when it comes to police work and when it comes to forensic details. And I know what I’m talking about when it comes to all the facts about investigating, because that is my thing. That is what I do, and here it comes. It’s very much to cheat my readers because I want them to forget what is fiction and what is real work. I want them not to think that much about it. I want them to be in a position where they just trust me, where they know that I know what I’m writing about. And probably if this is right, probably the other thing is also right. It’s not right. It’s just my imagination and my senses. That is the way I use my research.

[00:12:15.470] – Alan Petersen
I would imagine that your background as a journalist probably helped you with that because you trained how to interview people and get information from people for you. So that must be very useful for when you’re writing your books.

[00:12:24.720] – Sara Blædel
Exactly. And to begin with. And this is the truth to begin with, that was the only thing I could do because I knew how to research. I knew I wasn’t afraid of making a phone call and ask people because that was my daily job. So I was very much into if I can do the research, then I’m good, because then this will work. And the fiction for the first time. I’ve never been right when I started this. I’ve never been writing fiction before. I mean, it was so new to me, so I didn’t know how to deal with it because I’ve been working as a journalist where I try very hard to stick strictly to what people were telling me not to come up with things. So when I had to teach myself that it should happen in my head and not because people showed me, it was very weird, to be totally honest, it was weird, and it took off. Sometimes I created when I started creating Louisville, I saw her as this is kind of a cliche, but I saw her as a strong female character that knows exactly what she wants and everything. She was just super cool, a tough cookie, you could say. But when I start writing on my first Luis Rick novel, I was two or three pages in the story when she had a nervous breakdown. I did not see that coming. I didn’t see it coming because I didn’t plan. She was in her kitchen after the whole night being out on the field investigating. A young woman was found murdered, and she’d been out all night, and she was just having a cup of tea in her kitchen the next morning before she was going to briefing at the police station. And in that situation, she had a flashback to the first time she was in the position where she had to go to a young woman and tell her that her boyfriend was killed on the street. And when she stood there in front of this young woman, all the feelings was floating into her. I mean, the situation was so cruel, and she couldn’t bear it. And that was all the feelings that I had when I was writing it. I couldn’t bear to stand in front of that young woman telling her what had happened.

And when I was finished writing the scene and I don’t know where it came from, I was just like, oh, no, you’ve just started a novel with a super cool protagonist, and she gave her a breakdown on page three. Bravo, Sarah. That was my first meeting with fiction where your head is taking over.

[00:15:18.220] – Alan Petersen
So you must write like, what do you call it? Discovery writing. You don’t have a big outline. You kind of just start writing.

[00:15:24.820] – Sara Blædel
I actually have an outline now because otherwise it would take me in tons of different directions. But it didn’t outline until my book number seven.

[00:15:36.010] – Alan Petersen

[00:15:36.560] – Sara Blædel
Yeah, I did not. And now I have a very enormous pleasure doing my outlines because I think it’s so fun to create the puzzle. But I was afraid to begin with because when you outline, then it’s very obvious that you know what’s going to happen because you have put it on paper, you have put it on your table. You can look at it all the time, and maybe that could kill some of the creative things that could happen in the story. So I was a little bit afraid of that. It wasn’t a good idea. But my experience tells me now that if I do my research and I outline my book, then I have so much more space in my head to be creative because I know I can go from A to B. I know I can finish it. So it’s like it gives me more energy to put on all the things that just is from my head. It brings it much more to life, I think.

[00:16:40.580] – Alan Petersen
Can you tell us a little bit about a harmless lie. What inspired it, where you got the idea for it? And what’s the story about a homeless lie?

[00:16:51.010] – Sara Blædel
It is the first time I bring Louis Rick into a story as a private person. It’s the first time where she’s not working, when she’s not in charge of the investigation. And it’s also the first time where she has a lot to lose because she is personally involved. And the idea to the story came because of an earlier book I’ve been written as the Stolen Angel. And in that book there is a character called Mourner. And Mona is a very sensitive woman. And I was so curious when I was writing that previous book because Mona just showed up. I mean, I didn’t plan her. I didn’t create her. It didn’t feel like I created her. And I could feel that the sensitive part of her must be something that have happened earlier in her life because she reacts very strong when people are disappearing, when these kind of stories showed up in the news or she sees on television person went missing, these kinds of things. And then after I finished the book, she’s just a very small part of that book, but I couldn’t let her go. It does not happen very often that I have to stick with a character. And I knew that it was just for my own sake. It was not because I wanted to tell her story, not at that time, but I contacted a woman who is in charge of a mental hospital here outside Copenhagen and asked her if early traumas could start up something that will stay for you in the rest of your life. And of course, I knew that it can in cruel ways be, of course, ruining people’s lives. But Mona, it was different because she only reacted when people disappeared. And she said, oh, yes, if something happened when she was a child or young, a teenager, then it can stay with her forever. And I asked her if it was common that Mona then could show up at the hospital and say something is very weird and something bad is happening. And then she looked at me again and said, yes, it happens very often. And then sometimes we just sit down and have a cup of tea with them or a little bite to eat or sometimes they will stay with us for a while. So I felt that there was a ground under Mona’s feet that was very solid.

[00:19:47.410] – Sara Blædel
I didn’t just create a weird character. Something had happened. And then I dig into what it could be. In Denmark, it is very common that we went on school trips when we are around 13 with the whole school class, and then we go away for a week. And that was the story around Moona. She went with her on a school trip to Pontoma, and one of the girls from the class went missing. She didn’t. And they didn’t even find the bodies. They didn’t know what happened. And that have had a huge impact on Mona’s life. And also later on for other girls from the same school class. I wanted that to be a part of the story when I had the idea of a harmless lie because I wanted to know what went on at that time when she disappeared is also a story about Louise’s brother Michael and her sister in law, Frina Frina went to the same school class as Mona. Back then. She went on the same school trip. And now so many years later, when they found Susan’s body on Bonham, Susan was the girl that went missing at that time, these girls from Susan’s class went missing one by one. And that could be a very common story for me to write about, Louis. But the thing that is not common here is that Louise is not investigating it.

[00:21:38.890] – Alan Petersen
She is in the middle of the story as a private person from her childhood, like a background, not as an investigator, but as a private person.

[00:21:50.670] – Sara Blædel
Exactly. Yeah. She’s involved for other reasons. And she has to find out what happened back then to now find out why is missing. Trina is her sister in law, and I think writing a whole series now. This is book number ten. And for me, it is a new beginning for Louis Rick. I mean, she will be investigating in the books that comes after this one. She will be back at the police station. She will be back working again. But for me, it was important also to try. I mean, important for me, maybe not further, but for me, it was important to see her as also just a human being being on the other side of the table where she was related to the people who were in the case.

[00:22:52.910] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. I like in the book, it opens up where she’s kind of taking some personal time. She’s been traveling, she’s in Thailand. So, yeah, it starts very different from what she’s actually working as a police officer, as an investigator. Yeah.

[00:23:08.870] – Sara Blædel
And she’s not very keen to come home, but something is happening and she has to come.

[00:23:14.870] – Alan Petersen
So I’m kind of curious, too now because on the writing side of it, for listeners who are aspiring writers that are listening to this podcast, I’d like to ask these questions. So what’s a writing day look like for you? Do you like have set hours? Do you have word count goals?

[00:23:30.650] – Sara Blædel
I wish that I was one of these exotic, flumpy end writers that were sitting in the nighttime with a big head on a glass of red wine, smoking cigarettes and riding glyco. But I’m not. I’m so boring and traditional. So my day in this writing period will start around. I’m waking up at seven or eight, and then I go for a long walk. And then I sit down with my computer and then I’m not doing anything else. I’m not doing my laundry. I’m not checking the news. I’m trying not to be too much on social media. I’m trying to stick into the bubble. I’m trying to be in my bubble. I’m not succeeding every time. But I’m really trying not to be too distractive about anything else, because the whole thing for me is the writing part is the fun part. And I very often got questions from people who like to become riders or upcoming riders. What is it? How can I make sure that this will be a best seller? I was like, don’t write the book because you can never be sure write the book because you enjoy sitting there with blank paper and all the opportunities to fill it out. And also at the same time, that is the part of that I hate it most because, oh, my gosh, it’s a long way when you start up on blank paper, page number two and have to write 300 more. So for me, a writing day is to try to make it very comfortable and try not to be stressed about what I have tried. But I sit there also the days that I’m not very inspired. Also days where I maybe only write one page. I’m just keeping my I’m just sitting here. Something will come out of it. Something will happen. At some point, something will happen. And other days I’ve been writing ten pages without even knowing it. I’m just so into it, and I’m so curious. And it takes me and I say, wow, yes. But I don’t mind having these days of very productive and other days that is not productive because these days that it seems to be very productive, then I’m thinking and feeling and remember things and compare things. I just had a situation a couple of days ago. I was sitting and had one of these days where nothing was happening in my head.

[00:26:27.870] – Sara Blædel
Nothing. It was just totally switched off. But still, something happened because I remember one thing, a situation I remember as a child, and I could put this into the story here, and I could use it. And at the end of the day, it makes total sense. That was exactly the bridge from going from point A to B that I was looking for. But it wouldn’t have come to me if I was just rushing on with the story. So it’s not bad to have a day where that looks like not much is happening. Exactly. And also, sometimes it’s the small things that will be the strongest scenes. Chatter is going very fast at high speed. When it’s really creepy, you have to spread it out and use a lot of time writing it. But if it’s a car Hunt, then just get over with it. It’s like also the Tempe in the story. Some things just need time.

[00:27:44.700] – Alan Petersen
That’s good advice, because you never know when the breakthrough is going to come so no need to worry about it to stress yourself out over what’s the crime fiction through the market in Denmark. Like, is that like, American authors also popular over there? Is it mostly local writers or European?

[00:28:02.990] – Sara Blædel
Finally, we have a very strong Scandinavian market also. But back in the time it was American authors and British authors, but still there is a lot of I mean, Michael Colonel is very popular. Karen Slaughter is extremely popular. And there’s a bunch of American authors that are very popular here. And they also come visiting us because we have a very strong crime fiction reading communities. We have a lot of great crime fiction readers. They’re very passionate about crime fiction here. They like it. So it’s extremely popular.

[00:28:46.870] – Alan Petersen
I’ve been really enjoying those books from that part of the world. And like the TV shows, too. They’re starting to show Scandinavian crime shows on Netflix. I’ve been watching a couple of those. So they’re pretty good. We’ve been enjoying that.

[00:29:03.750] – Sara Blædel
That is how we spread the word and grab all readers into us.

[00:29:09.330] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, exactly. Because I watched the show and I’m like, oh, that’s really good. Then you find out it was based on a book, and then you’re like, oh, okay.

[00:29:17.970] – Sara Blædel
Do you find it annoying that the places and names can seem to be strange?

[00:29:24.100] – Alan Petersen
No, I like it. I actually like that. It’s interesting to me. So I enjoy that part. And so it’s like traveling. So it’s kind of like discovering new things. So yeah, I enjoy that part.

[00:29:39.870] – Sara Blædel
Yeah, that’s good, because sometimes you have to think about is it taking down the speed in the story that people that foreign readers have to remember these strains of weirdness and places. But at the same time, that is the reason that you have to read, for example, a Danish or Swedish or Norwegian crime novel, that it is different. It is a feeling also.

[00:30:04.200] – Alan Petersen
I think yeah, I think that’s what it was. I think the first big author from over there that I got into was Jo Nesbo. And then that kind of opened up to others. But, yeah, it’s kind of interesting. Do you start writing, like when you finish the first Harmless Lie do you give yourself a break or do you start right away working on the next number eleven?

[00:30:26.230] – Sara Blædel
But what happened actually was that when I finished Harmless Lie, I had in my head created the P 13, that special task force that Louis Rick should be in charge of. And I was so curious to bring her out with that task force. I was so curious and excited to create a new way for her to be able to investigate all over Denmark. So the idea for the next story turns out very even before I finished A Harmless Lie, and I felt that it was like a totally new energy for me because from a Harmless life, it’s kind of a Louis Rick Volume two it’s a new beginning for her and for me because I had a break for almost five years. I have not spent my time with her. So it was so nice not just to have her back and me back on the same track, but to have stories that I really want to dig into, stories that I’m curious to tell. That is the energy of a writer, isn’t it?

[00:31:45.450] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. You can live through all that. It’s like it’s your life.

[00:31:49.870] – Sara Blædel
Yeah, exactly. More stories are coming up.

[00:31:54.140] – Alan Petersen
All right.

[00:31:54.520] – Sara Blædel
With Rick and the P 13 task force.

[00:31:58.400] – Alan Petersen
All right, Sarah. Well, harmless lie. By the time people are listening to this podcast, it’ll be out. So go check it out. It’s everywhere, Amazon everywhere. Wherever you buy your books, you’ll find it. Where can listeners learn more about you? Do you have like a website or social media?

[00:32:14.350] – Sara Blædel
I have a website and they can find me on Instagram and Twitter. I also have Facebook, but it’s mostly in danger, so probably it will be a little bit boring, but Instagram find me there and I will be so happy to answer questions and I’m very easy to connect with also on Twitter and my name is just @SaraBlaedel.

[00:32:36.260] – Alan Petersen
All right, great. Thank you so much, Sarah, really enjoyed talking to you.

[00:32:39.580] – Sara Blædel
Thank you so much. It was really a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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