I think my writing career started at the age of five, when I fell in love with books. I learned to read at an early age and was proud to get more advanced reading material when I started school. From then on, I was a bookworm – the girl who spent hours at the library and often chose reading over everything else, including playing with my friends or watching TV. I spent so much time reading that my parents worried I wasn’t engaging enough with other children. However, I was never lonely. I was so involved in the stories I read, they continued for me long after I’d closed the book. I became the characters, spoke and thought like them. It sounds strange now that I think about it. But I do also remember making up stories in my head as I walked home from school, and sometimes writing them down when I got home.
I think it is impossible to become a writer without being a reader first. Reading sparks your imagination, especially as a child. But although the writer in me has been growing and evolving since I was five years old (or even younger), my path to publication is a relatively short story. I wrote a book while working full-time and caring for my two boys. The first draft was finished in nine months. I didn’t plan ahead; the story and characters simply took shape as I wrote. I let my family read it and waited anxiously to hear what they thought. To my surprise they liked it. But I didn’t quite believe them – they are my family so of course they enjoyed it. They recommended a few changes, and after making these, I sent the script to a publishing company called Veröld. They wrote back and asked for a meeting, and in that meeting they told me they wanted to publish my book. I don’t remember walking home at all. It all felt very unreal.
Veröld recommended that I enter the book into a new competition for Icelandic debut crime novels: the Blackbird Award, created by crime writers Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson. I ended up winning the award, which gave me a great platform in Iceland and, perhaps more importantly, an agent in the UK. I realised only afterwards how precious this was. At the time I was very new to the industry and didn’t know that to be able to submit your work to most publishing companies abroad you first have to have an agent.
So, roughly a year after I started writing my book, it had been published here in Iceland, and about a year after that the book had been sold to a few foreign countries as well. And Girls Who Lie – the sequel to The Creak on the Stairs – has now been published in English. Everything has happened so fast, and I’ve been really, really lucky.
The inspiration for my books comes from so many things: from all the stories I’ve read, from the bleak Icelandic landscape, my hometown, and the people around me (only their good character traits I promise).
In The Creak on the Stairs, I was perhaps most inspired by an area of my hometown, Akranes, called Breiðin. It is the southernmost most part of town, with a good view of the glacier Snæfellsjökull to the north and to Reykjanes in the south, where the airport is. My favourite thing about Breiðin is its two lighthouses, especially the old one, which is further along the coast from the town. As a kid I used to go there with friends, and we would dare each other to walk up the rusty old staircase. There was something mysterious about this old lighthouse, something a bit frightening, but also exciting and beautiful. I’m still not sure what exactly it is about this place that provokes this feeling, but I think when people see it with their own eyes, they understand. There is a beauty in the contrasts – this rusty old building against the beautiful landscape, and that is why I thought that this spot was the perfect place for a body to wash up.
I suppose that Akranes has provided the inspiration for all my books so far. Both The Creak on the Stairs and Girls Who Lie are stories about typical small Icelandic towns and what it’s like to grow up in them. I wanted to capture the atmosphere – the good and the bad, explore how far people would go to maintain their status and reputation in a small town like that, and show how hard it is to change other people’s presumptions about you. And that leads me to maybe the greatest inspiration for my books: people. I’m fascinated by human behaviour – why we are the way we are, what drives us, how we see ourselves and what it will take to make us snap. Because I think that under the right circumstances everyone is capable of committing a crime…
(c) Eva Björg Ægisdóttir
About Girls Who Lie:
When a depressed, alcoholic single mother disappears, everything suggests suicide, but when her body is found, Icelandic Detective Elma and her team are thrust into a perplexing, chilling investigation.
When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?
Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
‘Eerie and chilling. I loved every word!’ Lesley Kara
‘An exciting and harrowing tale’ Ragnar Jónasson
‘Chilling and addictive, with a twist you won’t see coming. I loved it!’ Shari Lapena
Order your copy online here.