Every year, the festival Mauves en Noir brings together the best authors of crime fiction in France and beyond to celebrate the polar. This year’s festival took place on the 14th and 15th April, and Owen, from The Breakfast/Afternoon Shows, and Ghislaine, from the Rédaction team, were lucky enough to go down to the festival for a live show.
This year’s theme was ‘une si longue nuit’, with a focus on the nordic countries. Owen and Ghislaine spoke to 3 authors from different nordic countries, as well as Benoît Sagot Duvauroux, president of the organisation that coordinates the festival. The authors spoke about how their different occupations (journalism, translating, editing etc.) inform their writing. They explored the different reactions to their work that they have received within Europe, and expressed their gratefulness for the positive reception of the nordic crime novel both at the festival and generally in France.
Ghislaine and Owen started the show with Benoît, who spoke to us (in French) about the organisation of the festival, helped by the many volunteers present and the process of bringing the authors over from different countries. He also talked about the evolution of the festival over its 17 years and the tight network that has developed between the festival, the authors and the public.
We start our nordic literary adventure in Denmark with « Danish Detective Academy » prize-winning author Inger Wolf. She spoke to us about the wonderful enthusiasm of her French readers and how a festival like Mauves en Noir is a great opportunity for meeting and connecting with fans. She then went on to talk about how working as a translator has helped her as a writer, how different European countries receive her novels and her upcoming series which, for the first time, will feature a female detective as its protagonist.
« Maybe Danish women are more sick in the head! » – Inger Wolf, on why there are more female crime writers in Denmark than France
Next we go over to Iceland with journalist, film-writer and author Arni Thorarinsson. Thorarinsson talked about his background in journalism and film and how this helps his crime writing. Iceland is unique in nordic Europe for not having too much of a tradition in crime novels, so he spoke to us about how he managed to break the European market and start to form his own style, often writing about financial crime as a reflection of his country’s socio-economic situation, as he did in one of his French translated novels, Linge du Matin.
« Everything helps, all experience helps, even when you fell off a horse when you were a child helps » – Arni Thorarinsson, on creative inspiration
We finished up the show in Sweden with Balais d’Or winner Tove Alsterdal. Alsterdal’s novels often take place in different countries, with the themes of migration and borders, as inspired by her childhood experience with Latin immigrants in Sweden. She spoke to us about the reception of her work in different European countries, and about her creative relationship with Liza Marklund, revealing that the key to their success is mutual brutal honesty: « If you want to be scratched on the back you can ask your mother to read – it’s very nice to hear but it won’t make you a better writer! »
« They’re crime novels, but the crime isn’t really the point: they are not so much about death as about life. »
All of the authors ended their interviews by giving their opinion on why they think the polar/crime novel is so successful in France.