It seems like only the day before yesterday that we reviewed Two Soldiers, the latest blockbuster from the writing partnership of Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.
Writing teams are, of course, commonplace in film and television. All those box-sets you devour, they’re usually scripted by whole rooms of people. But partnerships are still not so common in novel-writing. There’s Nicci French, of course and Sjöwall and Wahlöö, and Preston and Child, and some others. I’ve always been fascinated by the way two strong-minded, creative people can sit down and write a series of novels together.
So I’m very excited — very excited — that Anders Roslund is doing a guest post for Crime Thriller Fella. A Guest Post, no less, by a real, proper author! Roslund talks about how a common cause brought him together with Hellström, and their rules for working together…
I worked for Sveriges Television, the Swedish equivalent of the BBC, for fifteen years. I was wit h the news programme Rapport och Aktuellt, similar to the Nine O’Clock News, for ten years and then I started a daily programme called Kulturnyheterna (Cultural News), which was and still is a great success. I was the programme leader for the first four years. As a news reporter and editor for Rapport och Aktuellt, I produced a lot of long, ambitious reports about crime broadcasted on prime time television, to millions of viewers each time.
Most of Sweden saw them. But no one remembered them. And that’s what this is all about. That was my starting point for this joint authorship. Producing TV reports was like writing in the sand. I found my way into the sitting rooms of every home in the country, but somehow the content got lost on the way. Which is often the case with news programmes. What do you actually remember later? Try asking yourself next time you watch one – what did I actually see?
But this – writing crime fiction, tense thrillers that are primary intended to entertain, divert, but also help to inform people about a society, a reality that most of us know nothing about – this is a much better way. To entertain using a genre that is so well loved – and at the same time, educate a little.
I first met Börge when I was making a report as news editor for Aktuellt, and then again later when I was making a documentary about the organisation, KRIS (Criminals’ revenge in society), a non-profit organisation that Börge had helped to establish for former criminals and drug addicts.
I had for a long time worked as a probation officer in my spare time, supporting serious criminals, and had been looking for something like this – an organsation beyond the establishment made up of former criminals who knew how things worked but had decided to change their lives, for others who had also decided that they wanted to make the journey from prison to society and were then met at the gate when they were released.
Börge was one of five people who participated in the film, and when it was ready, and had been shown on television in a number of countries, we just continued to meet. We discovered that we were good at developing stories together, and that we could weave our knowledge into them.
We are two authors that can’t agree upon anything beyond our stories. Not about when or where to have lunch. Not to which music to listen to in the car. So we had to make a rule. The only rule that matters: never leave in anger after a days work. We always have to make up, be friends again, before splitting up. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes. To be able to continue the next morning. For all those working in pairs, this is the first, second and third rule.
The other only rule is . . .
Never give up. We were two not very handsome, middle aged men when we finally hit the top lists. It’s never to late – experience is what you need to have a good story to tell.
What about you guys? Anybody out there ever write with anybody else? The creative ego is a tricky thing — tell us the secret to writing together!