Today I am VERY happy to ask Will Dean a few little questions about the amazing Dark Pines as part of the blog tour. One of my favourite reads of last year, in my Top Ten and available now – genuinely you shouldn’t miss it.
So, we all know I LOVED Dark Pines so I’m very interested in the inspiration for it – obviously where you live for the setting which is beautiful, but also for the main character. So tell me!
So, so pleased you loved Dark Pines. Thank you! Tuva was partly a reaction to my awful first novel (now locked in a drawer). The protagonist of that story was basically me but 5cm taller. So I knew I wanted to write a POV character that wasn’t myself. I wanted to write someone interesting.
Tuva came to me (kinda) fully-formed. When I imagined Dark Pines I saw a huge, overgrown spruce forest. I zoomed in and saw a pick-up truck snaking its way along a gravel track through the trees. I zoomed in further and saw a young, deaf journalist driving the truck.
I wanted Tuva Moodyson to be like someone you know. A normal, relatable person. I didn’t want to write a superhero. Tuva can’t do martial arts or hack computers or read minds. She’s you and me. She’s a complicated, determined, fragile person. I love writing her.
As for inspiration, the setting of Dark Pines is inspired by the huge forest I live in, and also by my travels around Sweden. I’m interested in the interplay between character and place. Tuva, for example, hates nature. She’s terrified of it. I think she’s probably an amalgamation of many different people I know: my sister, my mother, my wife, my friends. But she is also, very much, just Tuva Moodyson. I’m excited to see how she develops in future books.
Start of a series. Anticipation is high for book 2 (definitely from me anyway and I believe from quite a few other people now)) – so are you having book 2 trauma? Not that I want you to relive it or anything…
Liz, I have had SO MUCH book 2 trauma. So, so much. I’m a walking cliché. Dark Pines came out in pretty good shape. It needed work but the fundamental structure was there from day one. Red Snow, the second Tuva Moodyson book, was altogether more tricksy. My first draft didn’t really contain any crimes?! That’s partly because I’m most interested in character and sense of place and mood. And it’s partly because the crimes were there in my head, and I’d alluded to them in the narrative, but I needed to make them much clearer to the reader. It’s been a tough period but I’m starting to really like Red Snow (thank God). And I’ve realised that I learn so much more writing the tough books than writing the (relatively) straightforward ones.
Tell us a little about your writing habits. Lock yourself away? Music? No music? Random banging of head against wall (either to music or to silence)?
In Sweden people split parental leave roughly 50:50. I wrote Dark Pines during 8 months of parental leave, and the routines I established then are now set in stone. I write a first draft once I know the rough arc of the story, and once I know who my cast of characters are. I take a train ride up to Varmland, the region where Dark Pines is set, for a one night trip, about a week before I start writing. That train ride (earplugs, no phone) allows me a string of hours to flesh out the story.
The first draft (Stephen King’s ‘you may not come lightly to the blank page’ plays in my head like a mantra) takes me 4 weeks. I wrote Dark Pines in my then one-year-old’s naps (2.5 hours in the morning, 2.5 hours in the afternoon – he was a great napper) because it was the only time I had. And that rhythm worked. One chapter in the morning and one in the afternoon. I think I’ll always write in his naptimes (even when he’s 30). I’m a bit of a zombie for those 4 weeks as I’m constantly thinking/daydreaming about Tuva and Gavrik when I’m not actually writing. I work in a spare bedroom with the blinds pulled. Earplugs. No music.
Then I leave it for a few weeks. And then the rewrites begin (months and months of rewrites).
Was there a lot of research involved in writing Dark Pines?
There was. I split my research into three parts. The largest and most important body of research concerned deafness, the deaf community, and deaf culture. I read a lot, I followed deaf YouTubers and bloggers, and I dedicated time to imagining how Tuva would live. I still research deafness now and I feel a big responsibility to do Tuva justice, and to write as accurately and sensitively as I can.
The other research I undertook concerned hunting (I am not a hunter), and small town journalism.
So Dark Pines made it into my top ten this year (OBVIOUSLY) so let’s just say you could swap that out for a read that has been one of your favourites this year. Well last year now I suppose by the time this runs. Which book would you choose? Just one. Yes I l know I had ten, you just get one.
I’m going to break your rules and choose two (please!). One non-crime, and one crime. My favourite book of 2017 was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It’s such an ambitious, beautiful novel and I am in awe of the author. As for crime novels, it’s so difficult to choose just one! But I’ll go with You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood. This book knocked me sideways. It’s written from the perspective of a defendant in a murder trial. It’s his closing speech (he fires his barrister). The voice and the storytelling are sublime.
Finally, if you could meet any character in Dark Pines for a few drinks who would it be any why? Just to make it more interesting, you can’t choose Tuva.
I’d love to meet Tammy for a drink. She’s hilarious and straight-talking and fiercely loyal to Tuva. I like Tammy a great deal and I’m so pleased that her and Tuva are best friends.
Thank you! (I loved You Don’t Know Me as well and would second that recommendation!) A pleasure to chat with you.
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