Foto: Ewa-Mari Johansson
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
Erik Axl Sund: The first time we met was late at night twenty years ago in our hometown Gävle.
Axl went up to Erik and kissed him on the mouth. It was a test to see if Erik was provoked.
He was not. Instead, we became good friends.
But it took another few years before our friendship deepened. Erik began working as a producer for Axl´s electro punk band “iloveyoubaby!” They thought it was a good idea that a punkband have a producer who is hearing impaired. (Erik has severely hearing impaired since birth.)
With the help of an industrious band bookers some longer tours was arranged in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia between 2006-2008. It was during some of these trips we decided to write a novel together.
Back home again we created a webpage/short-novel called “11 suicidal composers in the Newark area during the Brick City Years”.
The collaboration continued, and we began to experiment with art and film. In 2008 we challenged ourselves and decided to write books together.
We’re both reading people and have always written, so in a way it was strange that we have not done it before
The occasion was not a coincidence. We both simultaneously went through a personal crisis.
Life turned upside down and both of us felt that we wanted to do something new.
We thought the time was right to make reality of the novel project.
We had a good story that we wanted to share with as many people as possible and we therefore chose to do it in the form of a crime novel.
Håkan wrote about 40 pages that he was very pleased with. Jerker took them and went out to his parents‘ island in the archipelago. There, he wrote, in solitude and without electricity, an additional 40 pages with pencil and paper.
Once he was back, we realized that there were two completely different languages.
We wrote to each other and the writing served as some kind of therapy. We dug in ourselves and what we found was often very nasty and painful.
The whole process of the trilogy is punctuated by long discussions.
Several fights, but also a lot of laughter and even some tears.
Of course we had an idea, a theme, when we started writing, though the plot changed during the writing process. Sometimes the desire to surprise each other had the effect that the whole book had to be rewritten. Since we are very close friends, it’s a pretty courteous cooperation.
Axl is usually the one who has the „main“ movements – the skeleton – in his head and Erik stands for „the depth“ – the flesh on the body. But that has changed a bit recently.
We discussed ethical, philosophical and moral dilemmas (besides football).
If Erik think something Axl has written is bad, we delete the text, and vice versa. We both have the ambition to write books as well as possible and it is ultimately unimportant who has written the most words. In addition, we rework the prose so much that we end up not knowing who wrote what.
In the beginning, we sat at home and wrote in different locations. We sent the manuscript by email or telephoned each other. Sometimes hundreds of times a day.
Today we have an office where we sit opposite each other, with the ability to answer questions directly. It is also useful when one of us is stuck. We just switch computers and continue where the other one got jammed.
While working on the books, we have grown into one creature with common characteristics, desires and needs. We are even beginning to look like each other. If we initially were two people, we are now one: Erik Axl Sund.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
Erik Axl Sund: We were lucky and met our publisher at our local bar. It was just a coincident and everything went very fast.
Obviously the success was a big surprise, although we knew that we had written a novel with potential. Writing a good book is a start, but without a devotional publisher and talented agents, it had not gone as well as it did.
There are many better books than ours that never achieve the same success, while there is many worse novels that reach success.
We are well aware that we have had a tremendous luck.
Could you describe literature in three words?
Erik Axl Sund: Not a report.
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
Erik Axl Sund: No, but there´s a lot of them that we wouldn´t read unless we´ve been forced to do it.
What’s your favorite book? Favorite quote?
Erik Axl Sund:
Both of us relly like Heinrich Böll’s “Opinions of a Clown.” A favorite phrase is: “Down the rabbit hole” from Alice in Wonderland.
EBooks or paper print?
Erik Axl Sund: Both. Ebooks are maybe the future, but nothing beats the feeling to hold a wellworned book of paper in your hand.
What inspires you?
Erik Axl Sund: The common stuff as film, music, art and other novels. And of course reality.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be? Please explain.
Erik Axl Sund: We are both big fans of Tintin, so it would be fun to have a chat with him and later a drink with his blunt friend Captain Archibald Haddock. Erik has, due to his hearing problems and interests in impossibilities, a spiritual connection to professor Calculus. We will probably show up as the detectives Thomson and Thompson.
What’s your worst nightmare?
Erik Axl Sund: That something bad should happen to our nearest and dearest.
The best decision of your life was?
Erik Axl Sund: Hard question. Depends on when or who of us you ask it could be everything from getting married, having children or start writing together.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
Erik Axl Sund: We are now working hard on a fifth novel. It will be three standalone novels on the theme of melancholy.
Black, grey and white melancholy.
The set is in the same fictional Stockholm that we created in the trilogy of Victoria Bergman. Some people will come back, some who were minor characters will become main characters and so on.
But we want to emphasize that this isn´t an continuation of our previous novels.
No date is to be revealed.
In addition to writing, we work with our gallery that we hope will become popular and we intend that in a future exhibit our own art. We simply extend our cooperation. We’ve done music, film and written books together. Now we paint pictures with two hands and a paintbrush.