Women’s Mystery Month: Q&A with Sara Blædel

Bestselling mystery author

We asked some of our favorite female mystery authors about being women writers and about those that inspire them, both fictional and real.

sara blaedelToday, we’re featuring Danish crime writer, Sara Blædel. She founded the first dedicated crime fiction publishing house in Danish history. She is the author of several bestsellers, including Only One Life and Farewell to Freedom. She lives in Copenhagen.

Open Road: Is there a particular female writer or fictional female sleuth you admire? If so, why?

Blædel: There are several. I am a great admirer of Karin Slaughter’s books, particularly her characters Amanda Wagner and Faith Mitchell. Swedish author Asa Larsson is also a favorite, as is her lead character, Rebecka Martinsson. In these books, the female characters aren’t idealized in an unrealistic fashion; they are both strong and flawed. Also, as a child, I began reading crime fiction by a female author, the children’s stories about the Famous Five by Enid Blyton.

Open Road: Why did you decide to feature a heroine in your books?

Blædel: I think this mostly reflects me taking the path of least resistance. It feels very natural to write about my own gender and a life that isn’t completely different from my own, with thoughts, feelings, problems, and conversations that could have been mine. But I’m not at all tired of male detectives. In my latest book, I’ve given Louise a male partner, who I like very much, and who I’m looking forward to developing over the next few books.

Open Road: Have you encountered any obstacles as a woman writing in the mystery genre?

Blædel: I try to prove myself as a writer, not as a woman. I work very hard on my research, trying to make sure that all crime technology and processes in my books are as realistic as possible. Before I started writing, I had a publishing business, Sara B., where I published crime fiction novels before doing so came into fashion. Then, too, I felt that it was harder to prove myself as a publisher than as a woman.

Open Road: How does being a woman inform your work?

Blædel: I think that crime fiction provides a way to escape the traps of “literary” fiction. It’s a relief to have the freedom that comes with a format that has a defined structure, a mold that I can choose to fill or to break. Also, crime fiction lets me explore all aspects of society—including the darker ones, those that women are often keenly aware of—and delve into current issues without necessarily advocating a political agenda.

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