SONY DSCWriting can be like making music – why shouldn’t someone else join in? The new Danish writing duo on working together, plotting a novel in Romania, surviving motherhood and losing a contact lens on the most important day of your life.

How do you write two people together – isn’t that impossible?
No, it’s not. But I guess you’re very lucky to meet someone who brings something completely different to the table – that feeling that what you’re writing is improved by someone else. We usually say that Kenneth puts up the Christmas tree and Dagmar decorates it. Kenneth’s writing has pace, energy and drive – Dagmar likes to fine-tune the dialogue and details.
Some feel that writing duo’s are too calculated, too much of a concept. We don’t think that at all. You can compare it to making music. You can play the most beautiful tune on a piano – and then maybe someone will pick up a drum and join in. It will no longer be a solo performance – but is the music somehow less impressive?

Tell us about The Preacher – what’s it about?
Without revealing too much it’s about how we as people can lose touch completely with the ones we care about. It happens so subtly, maybe without us even realising that the people in our lives leave their fixed positions – and then the question is how we respond to that.
We love a blood-stained serial killer crime novel as much as anyone – but with The Preacher we wanted to examine what happens when completely ordinary people are placed under pressure. So we dialled down on the blood and turned up the psychological aspect.

What characters do we meet in The Preacher?
It takes place in the little, fictitious village in East Jutland, Roslinge – a small place with all the back-stabbing, gossip and peculiar people you find in such villages. The vicar Thorkild Christensen lives here peacefully with his wife Karen until one day she is found murdered. And Thorkild cannot understand who would want to hurt his anonymous, quiet wife.
We also meet Frank, who sells office supplies and leads a bachelor’s life in North Jutland. One day, his sister Sanne, a bit of a loner, is found shot. Frank is shocked as well – his sister didn’t know anyone and lived a secluded life.
The two men set out on a hunt for an explanation. So does detective Thea Krogh, who is a complicated character. She has chosen a life without a husband and children, but with a long-term affair with her married colleague Kristian. Together, they try to solve the mystery before someone else dies…

Tell us about yourselves and why you became writers
We are colleagues and teachers at Rønde Folk High School in the middle of the lovely Djursland, stuck in the same small-town environment we’ve used in The Preacher.
We play music together, Kenneth plays the piano and Dagmar is a singer.
We are complete couch potatoes and have our happiest moments in the sofa watching Breaking Bad. Except for when we’re writing, of course.
The idea of writing together came up during a trip to Romania in 2007. We had to do something on the long, boring bus rides. And suddenly we found ourselves plotting a crime novel. Not the one that turned in to The Preacher, though…but when we got back to Denmark we decided to try and write together.

How did the idea for The Preacher come about?
That’s a good question! We had puzzled with different scenarios when all of a sudden we came across the Danish newspaper Politiken’s crime novel contest. And suddenly the idea was there, and we spent a hectic day sketching it. And then we just carried on. Dagmar had just become a mum and was bored like crazy on maternity leave, so she was happy to bury herself in a new world while the baby sat in her bouncy chair.

Why did you decide to publish in the UK first?
The Danish book market is tiny and very competitive. So somehow we found the energy to try something completely crazy: translate the novel into English and try to get a UK publisher. And then we succeeded! We were just ecstatic standing in front of Little, Brown’s impressive offices in London and realising that our wildest dream was coming true. We felt like superstars – until we found ourselves on the Ryanair flight back home and Dagmar had dropped a contact lens and looked like a raccoon with mascara running down her face. Less glamorous.

Is there another book on the way?
Yes, we are well under way with the sequel, which will revisit some of the characters from The Preacher and a very different plot with lots of drama. So far, it’s about young people nowadays, parenting and love put to the test.

Which crime writers inspire you?
Many, and very different ones! We devour crime novel ourselves: the great Danes like Sara Blaedel, Peter Høegh and Jussi Adler Olsen, and many international ones: the French Jean-Christophe Grangé and Fred Vargas, the Americans Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly and Karin Slaughter, and our English colleagues Mark Billingham, Val McDermid and Robert Galbraith ( JK. Rowling).

Why has Scandinavian crime fiction become so popular?
Many reasons for that. First of all, it’s really good! We have so many great crime writers in Scandinavia who have paved the way for us and established Denmark as a strong crime brand. We are so very grateful for that. And then the Danes make great TV, and shows like The Killing and Borgen have helped more people discover this beautiful, gloomy and intense Nordic Noir genre