Books by my bedside: Søren Sveistrup

The BAFTA and Emmy-winning ”godfather of Scandi Noir”, Søren Sveistrup tells us all about the books that are currently keeping his mind occupied 

What’s currently on your bedside table?

At the moment I’m reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson. It was a Christmas present from my wife and the title made me curious. A few years ago I collapsed because of stress and I realised that it had to do with all the unnecessary expectations I had all the time. Reading a book such as The Subtle Art… reminds me to follow my inner compass instead. The book is quite funny, too.

 

Which book would you recommend to your closest friend right now, and why?

I would recommend Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. It’s not fiction, though I wish it was. In the Seventies and Eighties, a series of unsolved rapes and homicides terrorised the state of California. In the mid-1990s, when the DNA databases were developed, it became clear that it was a one-man crime wave. 

McNamara studies the cases one by one, and in such detail, that you can only be thoroughly impressed by her determination to solve the crimes. It’s a milestone in true crime journalism and an impressive tribute to those detectives and forensics who never give up.

 

Which books are you planning to take on your next journey, and why?

I’ll take Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open. For the last ten years quite a few friends have recommended it to me and now I want to know why. Besides, I like tennis a lot! I’ll also be on the lookout for the upcoming Thomas Harris novel and the latest from Stephen King and Robert Galbraith.

 

Tell us about your latest book. 

A few years ago I went to pick up my youngest, Sylvester from the nursery. The nursery had a big chestnut tree in front of it and that very day the kids were inside, sitting peacefully together, assembling chestnut men while they were singing. 

They sang a children’s song that welcomed the autumn and at some point they sang, “Chestnut man, do come in / Chestnut man, do come in”. For some reason it gave me the chills: innocent children inviting some unknown creature of nature inside. I found out that a chestnut man doesn’t have hands or feet—in fact it looks amputated and a bit scary. Especially if you picture it at a crime scene, being a signature of a deranged mind. That’s how I started working on my latest book, The Chestnut Man—which is also my first. 

 

Do you discuss your own work in progress with anyone?

Yes, always. I attended the National Film School of Denmark where I learned the benefits of working in a team. It can be extremely rewarding to discuss your script with, for instance, actors, directors and editors. So I made it a method to listen to constructive criticism and to filter the useful parts.  

 

Which book made you want to write?

It must have been The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren which I read when I was a boy. 

 

If you weren’t writing you’d be…?

In my dreams I would be a professional football player—playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid! Or at least their manager. Football is a great game.

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup is published by Michael Joseph, £12.99