Sofie Sarenbrant is slightly different

The ongoing wave of Swedish crime fiction has hardly escaped anyone’s attention. The real question is how come new, up-and-coming thriller writers keep appearing on the scene in Sweden? Is it because we live in an increasingly terrifying world? Or is it simply because we are inspired and influenced by everyone else? If we’re to believe one of Sweden’s crime-writing queens, it’s the latter. Back in 2012, when Sofie Sarenbrant worked as an editor at the magazine Amelia, it was a case of “if she can, I can,” that got her to seriously sit down and start writing a novel. Today, she’s written no less than eight and sold 1,324,576 copies.

So far, none of Sofie’s novels have unfolded at a hotel. Well actually, one of them, Rest in Peace, plays out at the Yasuragi, south of Stockholm, but that’s really more of a spa than a hotel. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be unthinkable that a hotel, maybe even the Lydmar, could be the backdrop to one of Sofie’s books. Sofie namely tends to choose places that she likes for her heinous murder and crime scenes – resulting in that she no longer feels completely at ease in her own writing lair, a cabin on a garden allotment in Bromma, which inspired her book Killer Deal.

“Maybe I’m stupid for using places I like for my books, since I have a tendency to feel uneasy and scared. But at the same time, I spend so much time mentally at the places where my stories unfold that I prefer them to be places I like and where I’ve spent a lot of time.”

Sofie says that although she’s never spent the night at the Lydmar, she’s spent a whole lot of time here. “When I’m redrafting my work, I sometimes stay at a neighbouring hotel to the Lydmar – but I’ve always come here to hang out and eat. I appreciate the laidback feeling at the Lydmar. Both the way you are treated by the staff and the interior fee very personal. I love hotels, or more exactly, certain hotels. I’m quite picky, in particular about interior design, which I also think is a lot of fun. So, a lot of hotels are inevitably eliminated, simply because they are unattractive.” The Lydmar, however, passed Sofie’s tough scrutiny and who knows if we’ll be reading about a ghastly murder or a sudden death in the art-photography lined corridors in a future Sarenbrant thriller?

Writer’s cramp isn’t something that automatically comes to mind when you look at the rate that Sofie Sarenbrant publishes. Eight books in seven years and a new one on the way that promises to be in the bookstore windows by May 2018. She’ll be getting feedback from the publisher any day now, after which follows a major editing job. Sofie estimates that it takes about a year to finish a book. “It’s seldom the idea that’s the problem, even if I used to have anxiety attacks about not being able to come up with a new intrigue. Building up the story is the challenge for me – and getting it to all come together – that’s the hardest part. Then the rewriting and redrafting work in itself is time consuming and sometimes trying when you’re incorporating comments and feedback from the publisher. That’s when I feel the need to check in to a hotel, to work completely undisturbed.” 


Foto: Theresia Köhlin

In addition to her work as a writer, Sofie spends a lot of her time         on other projects. Right now, there’s a show-jumping competition and the New York Marathon in the pipeline. Sofie has always enjoyed running. “It’s the perfect way to get in touch with your creativity and clear your head”. But she’s never run a marathon before. Her husband, Tommy, on the other hand, has completed seven Ironman triathlons (3.8 km swimming, 180km biking and a marathon). Then again, he’s a former elite sportsman. Besides running, horse riding, singing and travel are also on Sophie’s schedule – as well as her and Tommy’s two daughters of course. “I love being with my family and plan my time so that I’m at home every day when the kids get back from school.” The entire family loves travelling and if you follow Sofie on social media it’s clear that the Maldives is close to their hearts. Their family trips are sacred. So, if a new book idea turns up during the vacation, Sofie isn’t one to shut herself into a room and write. “Of course, I might make notes in my mobile but if it turns out I can’t remember the idea post-vacation then it can’t have been a very good one to start with.”


But tying back to the wave of Swedish thrillers, Sofie Sarenbrant is a cute, colourful woman who often wears chic, feminine clothes – often dresses – along with immaculate makeup and hair. Not at all the type of person you’d imagine would give a thought to psychopathic serial killers. “I’ve always loved crime fiction. I want to get totally glued to the book I’m reading. When the kids were small, finding a book that I could get into quickly was particularly important – and thrillers are unbeatable for that. Then I’ve got my own fears to overcome. As I said, I’ve no problem coming up with ideas for my novels, which can easily get me into a state. And in this case, that’s pretty good, since it’s my fears, or my ability to formulate them into books, that I make a living from…”


Three book tips from Sofie!