A Few Quick Questions With…Luna Miller

Earlier today, I talked about The Lion’s Tale by Luna Miller (translated by Aidan Isherwood). Miller was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Hope you enjoy this.

Tell us about your road to publication — was your plan/dream always to become a novelist and your education/other jobs were just to get you to this point, or was this a later-in-life desire?
I have always had an ambition to write, but with a restless personality it was a challenge to complete any work in a satisfying way. Always a lot of ideas, but never enough patience to complete any of them. I was always occupied with other commitments – long travels when I was young, and then education, then kids, then work…

But difficult experiences made me realize how important it is for me to make my dream come true. And my years spent working as a civil servant, specialising in providing support for cultural life, taught me about patience. So, a few years ago I started to give myself time to write. And then more and more time. Disorganized at first, but then slowly developing.

I don’t want to ask “where do you get your ideas?” But this collection of characters — Gunvor, Elin, David, Aidan — is so unusual, so great. How did this come to you? Did you start with Gunvor and then try to figure out how she could accomplish things (and therefore needed the kids), or did you start with one/both of David and Elin and then added Gunvor? I’m just guessing here — you take over 🙂
Gunvor was the first character, but Elin and David entered the story soon enough. I did just about all of the backstory on the three of them before starting to write the book. The idea was to tell the story of unexpected heroines and heroes. Characters that have issues the readers can relate to and feel a bit sorry for. Characters who can barely cope with each other, or even themselves. But characters that grow with the story, even if they do make mistakes along the way. Characters that don´t really know what they are doing, but still give it their all.

Even if I worked on a backstory and planned how to take it along, the story still took on a life of its own. There are always a lot of unexpected things that happen when I start to write. It is like the characters begin living their own lives. Making decisions within the story that I hadn’t planned in advance.

I spent so much of this novel convinced that everything The Fruängen Bureau (one member in particular) was doing and thinking regarding one particular character was a giant mistake — did you plan this character arc out from the beginning, or did it come to you mid-draft? It’s possibly the trickiest thing you did in the book, very impressive.
I made the backstory of Chibby pretty early in the process. I am fascinated by people whose strengths and weaknesses are close. But, as I described in my answer to the previous question, Chibbe also “came to life” during my writing session and evolved in the process.
Is there a genre that you particularly enjoy reading, but could never write? Or are you primarily a mystery/suspense/thriller reader?
I like to write mystery/suspense/thriller. I have already written the second book about Gunvor Ström and her allies in Swedish, but I have tried other genres as well. The first book I wrote, Three Days in September, is a contemporary adult relationship drama about unlikely friendships, loyalty, love and hope intertwined with sex, violence and tragedy. That story had been in my head for many, many years before it finally become a book. The main idea is about the desires, dreams and fears of six lives that collide when a stranger comes to town. The story is intense, short and drastic.

I love books like The Lord of the Rings and the stories of Harry Potter. But I cannot see myself having control over so many characters at once.

I’ve often wondered what it’s like to work with a translator — was it a collaborative effort, or did Aidan Isherwood just take the manuscript and run with it? How was the translator selected?
Years ago, I lived in the house where I have now placed Gunvor’s home. I am nothing like Gunvor except that I also had a neighbour and friend by the name of Aidan. So, except that he is the translator he is also an inspiration to the Aidan character in the book. He did an excellent job.
At that time, I had no money to pay a translator, so we made an agreement to split the income of the book.The Lion´s Tail was also edited by Perry Iles. He was recommended by a friend of Aidan who is also an author. He did a great job with the book. I really recommend working with an editor. No matter how long you work on a book there are always things that can be made better by a “third eye”.
What’s next for Luna Miller?
I am writing the third book in the Fruängen Bureau series in Swedish. I hope that the second book will be translated into English in 2019 or 2020. I am also working on a sequel to Three Days in September.
Thanks for your time — and thanks for The Lion’s Tale, I really enjoyed it, and hope you have plenty of success with it.
Thank you for taking time to read it. I am really happy that you enjoyed it. And thank you for the possibility to answer these interesting question 😊

The Lion’s Tail by Luna Miller, Aidan Isherwood (Translator): Unlikely doesn’t begin to describe the heroes of this debut PI novel

The Lion's TailThe Lion’s Tail

by Luna Miller, Aidan Isherwood (Translator)
Series: The Fruängen Bureau, #1

Kindle Edition, 257 pg.
2018
Read: January 23 – 24, 2019

“What did he say? Think. Try to remember. It might be very important.” Gunvor struggles to hide her impatience.

“Something about how even your dreams can be dangerous. About how I should keep my dreams as just dreams. And that if you try to make a dream come true you can mess up everything. You can ruin your life. That’s what he said. That your whole life can be destroyed.”

Gunvor Strom hooked me almost immediately — she’s a feisty woman in her 60s who we meet as she’s helping a young woman deal with a handful of teen males harassing her. She’s creative, crafty, wily and ruthless in this, and it’s a great way to bring in an audience.

We quickly learn that Gunvor is a rookie Private Investigator, forced to leave her career and changing her life after a divorce, she signs on to a Private Investigative Agency and mostly does grunt work — but does get the opportunity to do some investigative work. As much as she misses her old life, she relishes this new one (although she might like joints that are a little less painful).

Gunvor is assigned to find out what’s behind a husband’s odd behavior — the client, his wife, adamantly refuses to accept the idea that he’s being unfaithful, but his behavior is different and troubling. Gunvor isn’t on the case for long before she decides she could use a few more eyeballs — so she recruits, oddly enough, Elin (the young woman above) and David — the ringleader of those harassing her. She’s a student, he’s unemployed — and both need something in their life to care about, neither one of them realized that they were interested in investigative work.

Really, this book has two stories — one is the investigation into this man — and things get violent shortly after the trio gets to work. It’s at this point that the husband talks about the potential of dreams to destroy your life. If anything, this violence causes Gunvor and the rest to work harder — not long afterwards there’s a murder and the number and types of criminal activity that they’re investigating grows and grows.

The other story is following the development of Gunvor as an investigator and her two young protégés. Elin discovers sides to her personality that surprise her (and Gunvor, actually), and really comes out of her shell. David, on the other hand, response to the trust and responsibility given him by rising to the occasion and even maturing a little bit. Now, none of these characters grow perfectly or in a straight line — there are ups and downs to this development == and the suggestion is that this will continue after this book.

Both stories are wholly satisfying and serve each other well. The conclusion is as tense and taught as you can hope for, and at a certain point, you’ll forget that the trio you’re rooting for aren’t the kind of detectives you’re used to, all you know is that you’re hoping they survive.

This book, time and time again, came so close to wowing me — the clever twists, the dramatic turns, character development, and so on — but almost every time that Miller brushed against “great” she ended up settling a few notches down at being really good. Is it possible that if this was written in English, or set somewhere that I understood more than Stockholm that I’d be able to appreciate more nuances and rate it higher? Absolutely. But it wasn’t, so I can wish I understood what it means for someone to be from X neighborhood/district versus Y, and missing other things that don’t come through the translation as cleanly as they might.

ON the whole, this was just a pleasure to read — it grabbed my interest from the beginning and never let go. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the sequels, I can assure you, and I expect most readers will find the book as compelling.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

—–

3.5 Stars

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge