The idea for Roseanna came to us when we took a boat on the Göta Canal in Sweden and the boat was full of American tourists. Roseanna was modelled on a beautiful American girl whom I realized Per was observing a bit too closely, so I suggested that she be the victim.We were sent to Budapest by a Swedish film company to do research for a screenplay on the disappearance of Raul Wallenberg. The film was never made, but we fell in love with the city and decided to go there to write our second novel.
Well, Martin Beck is an introverted person and this aspect of his personality means that he is usually sad when a case has been solved. Perhaps a bit of Beck’s melancholy is taken from Per’s aversion to sitting around unoccupied. There was always a kind of melancholy in the air after a book was completed.
Yes, I think so. The ability to understand other people’s actions and thinking is one of the things that makes a policeman good at his profession. They are constantly confronted with a side of society from which we others are mostly spared. It must eat away at them as people and at their view of life. The transitory nature and general meaninglessness of life then perhaps become even more prominent and influential.
With Beck, as in every person’s life, there is light and shadow. That Beck has a dismal job doesn’t mean that he is unable to enjoy the good things in life. We’ve devoted more pages to describing him as a police officer – not as a bon vivant.
During that period of time there were many journalists at the daily papers you could admire. They were serious, well-read, good writers. Our background was useful; it probably helped us reach sources and places that we wanted to get to. Our network of contacts was large, and I can imagine that those doors that weren’t open were probably easier to force open, thanks to our journalistic background and knowledge.
Of course we wanted to add humour to our stories, not only for the reader’s enjoyment, but also for our own enjoyment. Per and I had the same sense of humour and therefore we could please each other with digressions and stories that weren’t planned in the synopsis. A bit later in the series, we added two stupid policemen, Kristiansson and Kvant, who always made fools of themselves and got chewed out by Gunvald Larsson. We would almost fight over who would get to write those passages.
At that time we both admired Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, George Simenon and Ross Macdonald. Later, in a review, we were compared to Ed McBain, whom we had never heard about before. But when we did read his work we really liked him and started to translate his novels into Swedish. Today I read all kinds of books, not so many crime novels or novels in general. I prefer biography and history, but I also like to reread some of the classics.
Fourth Estate are re-issuing the entire Martin Beck Series over the coming months. We have already published new editions of ‘Roseanna’, ‘The Man Who Went Up In Smoke’ and ‘The Man on The Balcony’. The following three books will be published in August with the final four in January. Have a look at all the new jackets on our Flickr channel.