The writer & his Lisbeth
DAVID LAGERCRANTZ, THE WRITER OF THE CONTINUATION NOVELS IN THE MILLENNIUM SERIES, TELLS t2 HE HAS FOUND HIS LiSBETH IN ELIZABETH!
In 2015, a Swedish writer took up the seemingly impossible task of continuing Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, hoping to bring back to life Lisbeth Salander and Mikhael Blomkvist, who had captured the world’s imagination in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Stieg Larsson died in 2004, just months before the publication of his trilogy, leaving a gaping hole in the world of crime fiction.
When 55-year-old David Lagercrantz decided to continue the trilogy with the blessings of Stieg Larsson’s estate (though bitterly opposed by Larsson’s partner Eva Gabrielsson), he had big shoes to fill. The Girl in the Spider’s Web came out in 2015. Though it lacked the Larsson spark, it hit a lot of right buttons, and two years later, in September 2017, he was back with The Girl Who Takes an Eye For an Eye.
It opens with Lisbeth in prison, where she meets Faria Kazi, a girl of Bangladeshi origin. Even as she goes all Salander to protect her from a prison bully, she asks Blomkvist to find out more about a millionaire businessman-pianist, thus sparking off a quest to unearth a government programme on twins that had been all but buried. A few days back, Lagercrantz answered some questions from t2 over email.
Congratulations on your second novel in the Millennium Series. Now that you are two books in, do you feel more comfortable with Stieg Larsson’s iconic characters, Salander and Blomkvist?
Yes, I do! Now I have them in my veins.
How did you plot Eye for an Eye? Was there some material or notes left by Larsson about this, since we know he planned to write 10 books eventually… or did you build it from scratch?
There were no strains left apart from what can be found in the three published books. When writing I always go back to my original stories, something that I kept within myself all my life. This time it was to something I discovered long ago when working as a journalist.
We in Calcutta were very excited to see Faria and Jamal speak in Bengali in this novel… that is the language we speak in this part of India too! Why did you decide to bring in the Bangladeshi angle in this story?
I am a board member of Swedish PEN and I have several friends from Bangladesh that have received death threats after writing blogs. It is of great importance to me to take a stand against honour-related violence against women and the freedom of speech. I keep my fingers crossed for a democratic development in Bangladesh.
Faria often reads poetry by Tagore in this book. Have you read any of his works in translation?
Yes, I have read both his novels and his poetry. When I was young I was totally taken with his works.
I thought we would see more of Lisbeth’s evil twin Camilla in this book, especially since the story was about twins. Are you keeping Camilla for a later novel?
I have recently started off my third Millennium novel and I cannot say much, but I think I can say this much: we will meet the evil twin sister Camilla again.
When did you first read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? What did you think of it then?
I read it pretty late and at the beginning I remember thinking of it as yet another crime novel. But as Lisbeth took a stronger position, I saw that this was something new. After that I was all taken with her and the plot.
What about the series made you want to write the continuation novels?
I loved the Millennium universe but foremost Lisbeth Salander, who at that time was a new female heroine never seen before in crime fiction. It was the challenge of the question that made me do it. I could not resist.
What kind of crime fiction do you read and would like to recommend to t2 readers?
I search and find my inspiration outside crime fiction. I found this of great help to me. Though one favourite is Umberto Eco and his The Name of the Rose. That is the kind of book I always dreamt of writing, it is both educating and unbearably exciting.
What about crime TV series and films?
I do not watch that a lot, though I do sometimes watch dramas. Recently I saw The Crown, where Claire Foy brilliantly depicts Queen Elizabeth II. I am unspeakably proud of her that she is soon to play Lisbeth Salander.
Do you think Claire Foy will make a good Lisbeth Salander? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org