Where Ravens Roost by Karin Nordin

Author interview with crime writer KARIN NORDIN

This blog post includes affiliate links to help you support me. It means that if you buy something through my link, the price is no different for you but I will receive a small commission 🙂 You can read more about affiliate links here.

I’ll go and admit it right off the bat: I’m not a crime fiction enthusiast. I don’t read detective novels and I don’t watch Scandinavian Noir films with grumpy Swedish police officers solving grisly murders. And yet, I couldn’t wait to get my paws on Where Ravens Roost by Karin Nordin earlier this year and I promptly pre-ordered her second novel Last One Alive as soon as it was possible, although the book includes even more murderous shenanigans than its predecessor. While I won’t wholly be converted into a fan of the genre, detective Kjeld Nygaard will always have a special place in my heart.

The truth is, the main reason for my sudden interest in crime fiction is simply that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Karin personally and I find her absolutely delightful. I would say it is my responsibility to introduce her to my blog readers as well, and she kindly took the time to answer my slightly ridiculous questions.

Interview with crime writer Karin Nordin

Publishers like promoting their authors by showing off their cool degrees and other fancy work-related accomplishments, but that’s not how we roll here at Protagonist Crafts. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? 

“The ending of HBO’s Game of Thrones series didn’t bother me.

Was that too divisive of an introduction? Let me try again.

I like tacos.

I also have a secret love of film novelizations which I know is blasphemous among many in the writing community, but I don’t care. I also enjoy reading comic books, graphic novels, and manga. I’m a nerd. My best friend once called me on a Sunday night during the airing of a new episode of The X-Files and I was so angry that it nearly ruined our friendship. (Sorry, Laura.) You have to remember though that this was pre-caller ID and cell phones were the size of boomboxes, so you had to answer every call, in case it was an emergency.

My favorite book genre is horror. My favorite film genre is westerns. My Starbucks order is a ‘grande no water chai tea latte.’ I’m a Beatlemaniac. My sport of choice is karate. I’m in desperate need of a stylist, both for myself and my house. And I could eat potatoes for every meal of the day.

And I also write books.”

Author Karin Nordin with her cat Watsbón
Karin’s favourite picture with her beloved cat Watson

I personally loved Kjeld as a character – how would you describe him to people who haven’t yet read Where Ravens Roost? (Assuming you want them to read it and you’re not trying to convert them to high fantasy instead.)

“Funny story, actually. But before Where Ravens Roost was picked up by a publisher the name ‘Kjeld’ was kind of my catch-all name for male characters with certain personality traits (stubborn, somewhat solitary, distant father figure types.) The first version of Kjeld was actually a character in a fantasy story I was writing. But now that Kjeld is established in publication as the figure he is in this book, I guess I’ll have to give that character another name. Or maybe all of my protagonists will just be named Kjeld. All different iterations of the same person in various universes. (Disney, call me up if you want to talk bringing Kjeld into the multiverse. I have ideas!)

But for people who haven’t read Where Ravens Roost, Kjeld is a homicide detective who works for the Gothenburg Police Department. At the beginning of the novel he’s currently on suspension because of an event that went very badly in his last case. He comes off as hardheaded, grumpy, and a little aggressive, but he’s actually quite emotionally vulnerable. He’s one of those people who’s spent most of his life hiding his weaknesses behind his obsessive work persona and a sardonic sense of humor. He’s a man who’s made a lot of mistakes in his life and knows he has a long way to go to make it up to the people he loves. He is, however, fiercely loyal and dedicated to the few people in his life that he’s chosen to open up to. But I think it’s clear from the get-go that he’s going to make many more bad choices before he reaches the end of his story.

But that’s why we read a series, right?”

How did you come up with the name for Where Ravens Roost and was it always called that?

“For one day, and one day only, the working title of the book was Blackbirds in the Barn. I love alliteration, but I didn’t love that title. I just knew at the time that I wanted the book to have black-colored birds and a barn as the focal point of the story. At the end of the day I came up with Where Ravens Roost, which admittedly is a mouthful. But it had everything I was looking for in a title. Alliteration, three words, reference to the birds, and an eerie suspenseful vibe that reflected the story I wanted to tell.”

Where Ravens Roost by Karin Nordin

What made you want to start writing books? 

“That’s difficult to say. I feel like I’ve always wanted to write books. I started writing my first book when I was seven or eight years old. And I’ve always been telling stories. I was a master of tall tales as a kid. I remember being obsessed with the Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler when I was younger. They were short chapter books about a spunky girl with a photographic memory who went around solving crimes in her school and neighborhood. (Hmm, sounds a little bit like Esme now that I think of it…) I read them so many times that I started coming up with my own stories about the characters.

A published author's journey of becoming a writer. Karin Nordin interview by Protagonist Crafts.

Later when I was in high school, teachers would tell me I had to start thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had to start planning for a ‘career.’ But I wanted to be everything. I had so many interests and so many hobbies. Every week I could imagine myself as something different—an astronaut, an actor, paleontologist, doctor, scientist, illustrator.

The only passion of mine that remained constant over the years was my love of reading and writing. I would find myself engrossed in a book (by this time I’d moved onto Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Michael Crichton – all of whom made up the foundation of my high school leisure reading,) and I would think to myself: ‘This is what I want to do. I want to spend my life immersed inb imagination and storytelling. This is how I can be everything.’ And in a way it’s true. As a writer you can be the pilot of a starship or a treasure-hunting archaeologist or the queen of a fae kingdom or a forensic odontologist. You become a part of your characters and your characters’ worlds when you write about them. And the opportunity to be many people and have multiple careers always appealed to me.”

What has been the most difficult thing in your publishing journey aside from pandemic-related shenanigans? 

The most difficult thing about being a published author - Karin Nordin interview by Protagonist Crafts

“Trusting myself as a storyteller. There’s a lot of pressure after the first book and for me most of it was personal. Yes, the pandemic made it difficult on its own, but I made it more difficult by putting a lot of expectations on myself. I don’t think that’s a healthy or conducive method of being creative. Yes, some pressure is a good thing. It can give you that inspiring nudge to push yourself. But I went too far while writing my second book and started struggling with my confidence, both as a new author and as a person wanting to explore their passion. I started seeing the successes of others and forgot about my own successes. The instinct to compare become almost paralyzing to my ability to both write and enjoy writing. This is something I’ve had to consciously work towards improving over the last seven months.

In the end there are a million things in the publishing world that you can’t control. What you can control is how you approach your own work and that’s the most important thing to maintaining forward momentum. I had to step back and remind myself why I wanted to be an author. And when you break it down to its purest form, it should be about the joy of telling stories. Always.”

Are you going to be a crime writer forever or will you explore other genres after Kjeld’s story is over? 

“There are a lot of aspects of crime writing that I love, but it’s not the genre I ever thought I’d be writing in! There are many other genres I’d like to explore. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily wait for Kjeld’s story to be over before I dip my toes in them. In a perfect world I’d love to be able to write a Kjeld book and then follow it up with a book that’s completely different and then write another Kjeld book and so on. I find myself much more inspired to go back and work on something after I’ve had a period of rest following it. I enjoy stretching my creativity and trying new things. So, will I be a crime writer forever? Maybe. But I won’t be just a crime writer.”

We all know it’s important to keep reading other people’s books when you’re a writer, but how important do you think it is to keep up with specifically what’s new in your chosen genre? What would your word of advice for aspiring crime writers be? 

The most important tip for aspiring crime authors, by Protagonist Crafts

“I think in crime and thriller genres especially it’s very important to keep up with new trends. Crime and thriller readers are extremely voracious. They read faster than any other readers I know. I think it’s because there’s a trend in the crime genre to push out books quite quickly. Unlike fantasy, for example, where readers are used to waiting years for the next installment in their favorite series. Crime readers are accustomed to having a lot to choose from. And the more books available, the more quickly the genre moves, the more quickly new tropes are established and trends are picked up.

My advice would be to read as much as you can as often as you can so you can see what’s popular and where you fall in the genre. There are a lot of subgenres in crime. Find your niche and know your niche. This is especially important if you’re an aspiring writer looking to be traditionally published. You should be able to tell an agent, a publisher, or a reader who your book’s contemporaries are. Will your book be sitting on the shelf next to Karin Slaughter, Peter James, M.W. Craven, and Robert Bryndza? Or will your book be nestled alongside Elisabeth Thomas, Riley Sager, and Stuart Turton? You should be able to answer that off the top of your head.”

I’ve written a post about the four things people often get wrong about being a writer, but what is the most common misconception YOU have come across after you became the coveted Published Author?

“I like your list a lot. I think you’ve hit on the big ones really well. All of your points are true. I would add the misconception that becoming a published author will cure your insecurities about writing. That sounds more depressing than I intended. What I mean to say is that having your book published, either traditionally or by another means, isn’t going to instantly wipe away those feelings of self-doubt or imposter syndrome. It’s a bit like climbing a mountain, getting to the top, only to realize that there’s a taller mountain on the other side. The journey doesn’t stop just because you’ve been published. This is something that you have to continue working towards. There will always be another deadline, another struggle, another challenge.

Some things will get easier because you’ve done it before and you know you can do it again, but at the same time some things will become more difficult. It’s like playing a video game. At some point you might surpass your friends, but then you’re suddenly thrust into a level with more experienced players and you have to start again from the bottom. It’s just that the bottom has a different starting point. You still have to collect all the appropriate skills and knowledge before you can go up against the new Big Bad. You still have new side quests to complete, truths to uncover, experiences to survive. And there’s still the potential for pitfalls.

A lot of authors, even very successful ones, struggle with doubt. It doesn’t just go away because your book is sitting on a shelf at the local Barnes & Noble. Is getting your book published a wonderful thing? Absolutely. And it should be enjoyed and cherished as much as possible. But literally the day your book comes out is the day you have to start climbing that next mountain. And it’ll be taller and harder and sometimes it might feel like it’s impossible to reach the summit. Until you do. And then you start again.”

And finally, the question that’s probably in all of our minds, what does your cat think about all of this? 

“Ha! Watson has maintained from the beginning that fame would never go to his head. Then again, he was born believing himself the center of the universe and, in this house, that’s not far from wrong. I think he sees most of this with a healthy amount of skepticism and nonchalance. Then again, that could just be me misinterpreting his expression. Maybe his permanent scowl isn’t directed towards my decision to drag him along on this creative journey. Maybe he’s just angry because I had to push him off my lap after four hours because I had to go to the bathroom. Or because his food bowl is empty. He’s elusive. I think it’s safe to say he brings the mystery to my stories.”

A huge thanks for Karin for taking the time to answer our questions! If you haven’t read her books yet, do yourself a favour and go get Where Ravens Roost and Last One Alive ASAP.

Tell us what you think

Skip to content