Saturday, 31 December 2016

First review of 'A Place To Bury Strangers'

Having read and enjoyed Nicol's 'On a Small Island' and 'The Mistake', I was eager to read 'A Place to Bury Strangers'. The title alone was enticing but the first events - a grizzly death, our anti-hero, Detective Grímur Karlsson injured and a young girl escaping into the cold, dark night hooked me into the story. Add a Norwegian phrase at the Reykjavík crime scene - "I have found the place where you bury strangers" - and the police have their eye on a known Norwegian enforcer. Ævar, Grímur's boss (who is keen for the aging, difficult Grímur to retire) and Grímur differ on the approach to take with the Norwegian.

Pay attention to the date heading each chapter. Once I figured that out, I was able to follow the back and forth of events which slowly revealed character motivations. Ævar needed to solve the murder, Grímur was searching for a young woman, Svandís who had disappeared, Knut the Norwegian had his own agenda and all events move along in parallel until it becomes clear how they intersect.

Top marks to Nicol for the ending - it surprised me.

Monday, 19 December 2016

'On A Small Island' almost three years on.... review by Jo Perry.

My debut novel 'On A Small Island' will be three years old next month but thanks to my publishing deal with the wonderful Fahrenheit Press it is now starting to reach a whole new audience all over the world. I was thrilled to receive this review today from one of Fahrenheit's most talented authors, the lovely Jo Perry. Her books 'Dead Is Better' and Dead Are Best' are two of Fahrenheit's most entertaining releases so it was a thrill to hear what she thought of my debut effort.

"This masterful, chilling, and stormy Nordic noir page-turner is much more than a whodunnit. In finding the location and identity of her siblings' abductor and the murderer of her father's farm hand and beloved horse, Nicol's stubborn, brave and complex narrator and protagonist, Ylfa Einarsdóttir, must confront horrific family secrets that threaten her life and can obliterate her sense of who she is. Ylfa's identity, like that of all Icelanders, comes not from a family name and history, but is defined by a patronymic. Ylfa is Einar's daughter––her father's daughter––to the world and to herself. Who her father was and is becomes the literal and figurative darkness which she must escape to save herself. Lively, restive, fearless and promiscuous Ylfa first hunts, and then is hunted by the person or persons who has taken her sisters and who threatens her stern and distant father. Her search takes her farther and farther away from Reykjavík's comfortable mix of tradition and modernity until she, alone in Iceland's stark and bone-chilling cold landscape, must confront the uncontrollable and deadly forces of human nature. Ylfa is a wonderful mix of darkness and light, blindness and strength. And I love the way Nicol uses horses as important characters in the novel—as innocents, victims and true measures of our humanity."

Friday, 9 December 2016

Welcome to Mooselandia #1

It is only been three weeks since I woke up with a hangover from my Saturday night out after Iceland Noir but it feels like a lot longer mainly because there’s been so many changes in my life since then. The biggest and most noticeably one is that I am no longer living in Iceland having called time on my stay there after two years of living in the tiny Nordic nation of imaginary elves, Sigur Rós and footballers capable of beating the English. My new haunt is Porvoo in southern Finland or Borgå if you are of the Swedish-speaking variety of Finn of which there are more than a few around here. There are always a few things to get used to when you move to a new country and one of the main ones you need to wrap your head around here is the dual-language usage. Everyone here speaks Finnish but in the south there is a large number of Swedish-speaking Finns. This is not just a small minority of people either. In some places in the south-west of the country they are actually in the majority. All the road signs here are in both languages. Finnish on top and Swedish underneath. Police cars have the word ‘Police’ written in Finnish on one side of the car and in Swedish on the other. Ambulances have the word ‘Ambulance’ on them in English only. No room for making mistakes there. Shop assistants often wear small badges on their chests with little flags indicating which languages they speak. Little Finnish flags, Swedish flags and the Union Jack are the most common ones you’ll see. Whereas in Iceland I only had one language to get to grips with – albeit one of the most complicated beasts on the planet – here I have two. I frequently find myself learning a new word in both languages at the same time. While Swedish is perhaps the simpler of the two languages to learn being more similar to English all the subtitles on TV are in Finnish and that is a great way to learn vocabulary no matter what anyone says.

Another challenge or delight in any new place is the food and here it’s pretty much all been delights so far. Even the dreaded Salmiakki which foreigners are supposed to loathe I have fallen in love with. It is Finland’s famous salty liquorice that really has to be tried to be believed.

They even have Salmiakki chocolate here as well as lemon and liquorice yoghurt which is totally amazing and apparently there’s a lemon and liquorice ice cream as well. Karelian Pies are another big thing here. They are small open-top pies made with a sort of shortcrust pastry made from rye flour and filled with rice. It’s the sort of fluffy rice that you might use in desserts. We eat them hot or cold with cream cheese on top.

Another huge thing here is the great outdoors. Where we live it is five minutes in pretty much any direction to the woods. Forest might be a better term. The trees start just behind the houses here and go on forever. They are criss-crossed with dozens of walking trails covering huge amounts of land. Some are about 3 or 4 km long while others go on for 15 or 16 km. In summer people head out to collect lingonberries and wild mushrooms for their kitchens while in winter you are more likely to come across people keeping fit out going for a walk or a run.

As the sun is pretty much gone by 3:30 in the afternoon at this time of year you can only use them fairly early in the day but there is one just down the road from here that has ‘street lights’ that wind along its entire length creating a spooky-as-hell light when they turn on.

It’s a cool way to get some exercise and it’s really easy to let your mind drift and empty itself as you wander through such breath-taking nature. The only thing you have to concern yourself with, apart from staying sufficiently warm, is moose. They live in the forests here and are generally very happy to keep out of your way which they will do if they can smell you coming and with a nose like that that happens about 99% of the time. It’s only when you surprise them apparently that they get rather upset about you being in their woods.

I haven’t seen one yet but I’m quite excited about the day that finally happens. That is after all one of the big attractions of living here in Mooselandia.

Friday, 11 November 2016

This Is How To Do Business.

One of the many problems with publishing today is that everyone seems to have forgotten how to play together. Like kids in a sandbox arguing over whose spade is being used to fill whose bucket, everybody seems to have forgotten that it’s not the people who own the bucket and the spade that count but the people getting their hands dirty in the sandbox and those on the outside looking in at the castles we’ve been working our arses off to build. There is no cooperation between the big bucket and spade companies and it’s resulting in not enough fantastic sandcastles getting seen by the paying public and not enough money going to the guys and girls doing all the fucking building. Until now that is. Enter Number Thirteen Press and Fahrenheit Press, two of the hippest and smartest publishers in town have got together to buck the trend and it’s all in the name of that rarest of commodities. Common sense. One of the greatest oxymorons of our time.  

My debut novel ‘On A Small Island’ has just been published by Fahrenheit Press. I originally self-published the book a couple of years back but when Fahrenheit Press recently read my submission for my third book, ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ they suggested we publish both of them under the Fahrenheit banner. Good idea, I thought. That way we can give the first one a new lease of life, and more importantly, get the books looking alike so the readers can easily associate the two of them. That one’s always a good idea from a marketing point of view. So a lovely new and very Icelandic-looking cover was designed for ‘On A Small Island’ at it was launched once again. Same book but with a different look and now, just a couple of weeks later, ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ has also been set loose upon the world by Fahrenheit Press with a cover that looks like it well and truly belongs alongside my first one. Then came the best idea I’d heard in a very long time. Fahrenheit Press asked me what I thought of us approaching the publisher of my second book ‘The Mistake’ to see if we could tie the look of all three books in together even though they have different publishers.
The idea sounded like a brilliant one from my point of view but I did begin to wonder if anyone had ever tried something like this before. It looked like a bit of a no-brainer on paper but there were some rather important matters to iron out first before this great idea could become an even more awesome reality. Firstly, and most importantly, the rights to ‘The Mistake’ are presently owned by the people who published the book, Number Thirteen Press and not me. Problem #1: not my call. Number Thirteen Press are an indie-publisher from London who launched a project to bring the noir novella back to the crime-reading public and did so in great style. Their plan was to publish 13 novellas every month for 13 months and to do so, of course, on the 13th of each of those months. When I first read about the idea I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and that’s exactly what it proved to be. 13 short novels and novellas came firing out of Number Thirteen Press’s loaded gun and they were all great and they were all a thrill a minute and they all packed the punch of a Kentucky bourbon drunk mule. Those kind of books we used to love back in the day – short, punchy and very well-written, just the way noir is supposed to be and each with their own distinctive cover that gave them a look that was unmistakably Number Thirteen Press. Problem #2: in order to get Number Thirteen Press to go along with this idea we would be screwing up their series of thirteen matching covers. How on earth were we going to talk them around on that one? It still seemed like a good idea from my side of things but it was possible that Number Thirteen Press wouldn’t see it that way. It was after all their prerogative to have their books looking the way they wanted them to and they had gone to a great deal of trouble to get them all looking so very, very much like Number Thirteen Press books. It was part of their brand, it was part of their identity. And now I wanted to screw that all up for them. It was entirely possible they would pull a .38 snub-nose from their shoulder holster and slam the door in my face like they used to do to Marlowe. But this time there would be no classy dame waiting to look after the bullet wound. This wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I’d hoped.
What I had to put my faith in now was that it was a good idea and occasionally good ideas prevail. Imagine if this had been two of the ‘Big 5’ that I had dealing with. Can you imagine me approaching, for example, Guillemot Arbitrary Abode who used to be my publisher and telling them that I’d recently signed a new contract with Hemingway Coffins and that Hemingway Coffins and myself had got together and decided that we’d like all my books to look pretty much the same so would it be okay if Hemingway Coffins changed the covers of some of my earlier works to achieve this glorious end?  You’d be able to hear jaws hitting the ground on the other end of my internet connection or mobile phone line such would be the incredulous response of our friends at Guillemot Arbitrary Abode.
“But those books are ours.”
“What makes you think we’d let them do that?”
“They’re our covers.”
“Why would anyone else want to pay for that to promote our books?”

You get the idea. They’d still be too worried about who paid for the spade and who owns the bucket to think about who might come along and see the sandcastle we’re building and fall in love with it. But luckily I now have two guys both called Chris who have brought their buckets and spades to the party along with a couple of big fistfuls of sand and a little flag to stick on top of it all and we’re all just focusing on building the best goddamn sandcastle we can. Because we like sandcastles and we know there are a lot of good people out there who like sandcastles too.

"I love the attitude Fahrenheit Press are bringing to publishing. More to the point, I love that they are putting the authors first, an idea which almost seems old-fashioned now. But in an industry that has undergone seismic changes since the 1990s, publishers need to find new ways of doing things. The Big 5 haven't caught on to that yet, or haven't worked out how they can achieve it, which is why Fahrenheit and the likes of All Due Respect, Near to the Knuckle, et al (just looking at the crime genre) are at the forefront of things, giving readers what they want by publishing books they love instead of simply analysing the numbers. At the end of the day small publishers are working towards one common goal: getting great fiction by great authors into the hands of readers. That makes Fahrenheit a friend and an ally, and someone I'm really happy to work with in putting more of Grant's fiction out where it belongs."- Chris Black of Number Thirteen Press

1. Tell us a little about A Place to Bury Strangers – ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ is about a couple of parallel investigations in Reykjavik and features my Icelandic detective Grímur Karlsson. One case involves a girl going missing from an outcall she was on at a house outside of the capital. She comes from a nice family but has been working as a call girl to fund her drug habit. While Grímur is investigating her disappearance there is a murder in the middle of Reykjavík. A small-time drug dealer is lured to a building site and attacked. His body is burned in an oil drum and a message is left next to the remains in Norwegian making the cops think that this is a drug-related gangland killing, a feud being started or a score being settled. At first there appears to be no connection whatsoever between the two cases but when Grímur gets a little too close to the truth of what has happened to the girl he is looking for it becomes apparent that the two cases are indeed very closely linked after all.

2. What inspired the book? – The foundation for the book was inspired by a true crime story from the US that I took and made my own. Once I had that very basic idea in my head I started collecting other ideas and characters and slowly built the plot around those. This is the first of my books which I have written solely in Iceland so it was different from the other ones in that it was easier for me to be able to gather scenarios for the plot from the news here so it is probably more topical than the first two books. I was able to twist and wind the relatively recent problems of drug gangs, people trafficking for prostitution, champagne clubs and very, very dodgy politicians into my story. They might be slightly exaggerated for artistic purposes in the book but they all exist here in peaceful little Iceland.    

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel? – There is always a serious amount of planning that goes into each novel but I am not the sort of writer who sits down and has every scene in place before I start writing. I always have the beginning tied down in a big way and do plan that out extensively and I always have a good idea of the ending but more in the way that I know where the book is heading as opposed to having a concrete destination point. A controlling idea to aim for. For the rest of the book I have a series of points I need to pass through but I don’t ever say to myself that this has to happen there and that has to happen there otherwise it’s not going to work. I let the text flow a lot more than that and to a degree just let it take me where it wants provided I get where I need to be getting by the end of it all. For me normally the whole process takes between eight and nine months but there are a lot of variables that can shorten or elongate that timeframe.
I think it’s extremely important to learn and understand the principles of structure and storytelling but it doesn’t mean you have to stick to them once you’ve started writing. There is a wonderful scene in the documentary ‘Hearts Of Darkness’ where Francis Ford Coppola is trying to get a drug-fucked Dennis Hooper to learn his lines. Dennis wants to ad-lib his way through the scene and to his credit a lot of his ad-libbed stuff did make it into the final cut but that’s not the point. Francis explains to him that he has to learn his lines first, then he can forget them. His point being that once you have learned the structure of what is going on around you, then, and only then, can you go on to do things your own way. He was of course completely right.
4. Over recent years there has been a surge of interest in Scandinavian and Icelandic crime fiction. What do you think is the lure of this sub-genre? – The rise of Scandinavian crime fiction has been no surprise to me at all. Especially in the UK now it has become nothing short of a phenomenon. For me the experience began when I was living in Belfast and discovered the Swedish ‘Wallander’ TV series on BBC 4 one night. That was it. I saw one episode and was hooked. I watched both of the first two series and then started reading his books. For some reason I can’t quite recall I began with ‘Italian Shoes’ which is not crime fiction at all but is a beautiful, beautiful book that even my mum read. After that it was on to his Kurt Wallander novels which I just devoured. Since then we have seen a cascade of TV shows from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland most of which have been outstanding and this has of course been closely tied in with the concurrent rise in popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction novels. I think the success of one would not and probably could not have happened without the other. It has become a multi-media experience for people and the secret to its success is the writing. Whether it has been the strength of the powerful teleplays for knockout series such as ‘The Bridge’ or the tense, sad and brilliant novels of the late Henning Mankell we have been treated to some of the finest writing crime fiction has seen for quite some time.

5. Iceland Noir will take place in Reykjavik from 17 to 20 of November and features a host of crime writers including Ragnar Jónasson, Val McDermid, Amanda Jennings, Derrick Farrell and yourself. What do you think literary festivals like this bring to the book world? What does it mean to you to be involved in this year’s festival? – Iceland Noir and literary festivals in general are an opportunity for writers and readers to get together and celebrate what they love most. Books. They bridge the gap between audience and writers in a way that no other medium can especially the more intimate festivals such as Iceland Noir. There would be very few opportunities for members of the public to meet the likes of Ragnar, Val and Yrsa if it wasn’t for festivals such as this.
My involvement with Iceland Noir this year is a bittersweet one. I attended the festival two years ago when I had just got off the plane from Belfast to live here and had never met any Icelandic writers. I had actually never met any writers of any sort before so it was all very eye-opening and exciting. Since then I have become part of Reykjavík’s tight-knit crime writing community and I’m on the organising committee for the festival this time around. It will also be my final fling in Reykjavík because I am moving to Finland straight after the festival so for a lot of these lovely people it will be the last time I see them for quite some time. But I can’t really complain though, I have met the most wonderful Finnish girl and am about to embark on a new and totally amazing part of my life.

6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all? – I love music. Having ‘grown up’ on the road touring with bands I still love watching live shows of all sorts and my musical tastes are still as varied as they’ve always been. I am just as happy watching punk bands as I am listening to an orchestra play. Last week I was at a local record shop watching Icelandic post-hardcore outfit Endless Dark play during the Iceland Airwaves festival and tonight I will be visiting Harpa to see the Icelandic Symphony perform Sibelius’s Symphony no. 2. Music is the key.

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be? – ‘And The Ass Saw The Angel’ by Nick Cave. I first read this in my teens and I don’t really reread books as such, maybe a few Iain Banks novels over the years, but I just love rereading Nick Cave’s debut work. It is grimy, sad, beautiful and thoroughly disturbing. It is Cormac McCarthy coming down off some really heavy acid and trying to work out the missing part of the Bible in a southern swamp full of anger, fear and White Jesus moonshine. From its opening chapter you can smell the hurt in the air along with the mud, the blood and the sweet perfume of the local whore. It is an unholy take on the holiest of books and a wonderful, demented tale of despair, hate, crime and old-fashioned retribution.

8. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer? 
No one has ever asked me which Smurf I would be if I could be any Smurf I wanted. The answer is Leather. Leather Smurf.

Everybody Knows - Thank you, Leonard...

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you've done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

Thursday, 10 November 2016

'A Place To Bury Strangers' is out now through Fahrenheit Press.

A cryptic message left next to a charred corpse in the middle of Reykjavík leaves police worried they have a gang war on their hands. Across town Detective Grímur Karlsson investigates a missing girl from a nice suburban family and gets far too close to the truth for his own good. It becomes clear the two cases are connected and Karlsson doggedly pursues the trail that leads from junkies on the seedy streets of Reykjavík all the way to the very top of Icelandic society.

"A story as bone-chilling as the air his characters breathe…Grant Nicol's 'A Place to Bury Strangers' will keep you up into the wee hours––get ready to shiver the whole night through." – Matt Phillips (author of 'Three Kinds of Fool,' 'Bad Luck City,' and 'Redbone')

Friday, 28 October 2016

My brand new Q&A with Fahrenheit Press.

My first novel 'On A Small Island' was re-released today through Fahrenheit Press and my new book 'A Place To Bury Strangers' will follow very shortly. Here is a Q&A I did with them yesterday.

1)       I’d read and loved your first two books “On A Small Island” and “The Mistake” way before we even launched Fahrenheit Press so I was really happy when you sent us the manuscript of your 3rd novel “A Place To Bury Strangers”. I guess the big question is why did you want to publish your new book with Fahrenheit?

My first book ‘On A Small Island’ I published myself. I wasted a great deal of time trying to find an agent with no success and without an agent representing me I couldn’t get it into the hands of any of the big publishers. I thought that system was completely fucking ridiculous and still do. This was a few years back now before there were any indie publishers set up so I figured that if I wanted to get it done I would do it myself. DIY all the way. My second book ‘The Mistake’ I wrote after coming across Number Thirteen Press and loving the idea of what they were doing. I totally dug the whole indie vibe and what I was writing suited the novella format they were interested in too. I kind of tailored it to their needs a little bit and it turned out to be a huge success, for them and for me. So when I finished ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ I was in a bit of a bind. Number Thirteen were winding down operations and the new book was too long for what they were doing anyway but I was determined to stick to the indie route because I had found it such a good way of getting things done. I was sitting around scratching my head trying to decide what I would do and getting nowhere fast when I came across Fahrenheit Press. I read about the ethos of this new Hot Punk Publisher – the new bad ass kid on the block – and knew straight away that this was the place for me. Everything about the way Fahrenheit do business just feels right. You can submit directly to the guy in charge and there’s no bullshit involved like there is with the rest of the publishing business. Bingo! I was fucking sold.

2)       We’re re-publishing “On A Small Island” under the Fahrenheit banner shortly before we launch your new novel “A Place To Bury Strangers” – for anyone who hasn’t already read the first book, could you give us a feel for what it’s about and how it links into the new book.

‘On A Small Island’ is the story of an Icelandic family targeted by a vengeful ghost from somebody’s past and is told from the point of view of one of the daughters. She looks on as her father’s stable boy is killed and her sisters are taken and when the police show little interest in doing anything about their disappearances or solving the murder she takes matters into her own hands. The cop heading the investigation is Detective Grímur Karlsson and he also features strongly in ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’.

3)       All of your books so far are set in Iceland so clearly it’s had a strong influence on your writing – what is it about the place that inspired you so much?

I first visited the place for my birthday when I turned 40. I was living in the UK at the time and was starting to think about moving somewhere else and Iceland just fit the bill. There’s something quite magical about this strange little nation. Aside from the clichéd stuff about elves and trolls there is just something really special about the place. It’s unique in so many ways. The fact that is so isolated means that it kind of goes about things its own way and the way it was formed makes its special too. There’s not many places you can live surrounded by geysers and volcanos except maybe New Zealand. It’s possible it reminds me of home too in its own weird way. As far as crime writing goes it’s totally unique. There’s almost no crime here, never has been, and the whole country is something akin to a locked room mystery. That was the idea behind ‘On A Small Island’. There really is nowhere to hide here.
As for ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’, it was the first of my books to be completely written while living here – the first two were written in the UK although I finished ‘The Mistake’ shortly after moving here – so it’s much more topical and embraces some of the real issues facing Iceland right now.

4)       In related news, you recently announced you were relocating to Finland. Are you planning on starting a new series set there or will you continue to write about Iceland?

I have just finished my fourth book and it will probably be the last one I write set in Iceland. I have begun work on the next book already and it is set at a fictional lake in the south of Finland. So it looks like for now anyway it’s all going to be about Finland. I have a new detective in my head and a whole new country to fill with bodies and heinous crimes so I’m going to run with that for a while and see what comes of it. Finland is a great place and I intend spending many years there so for me it makes sense to write stories where I’ll be breathing, observing and dreaming up all kinds of crazy shit.

5)       We’ll be meeting for the first time in person at the #IcelandicNoir festival in Reykjavik at the end of November – what delights do you have in store for me and the rest of #TeamFahrenheit when we get there.

Freezing cold weather, wind that you’ll be able to feel in your bone marrow for weeks if not months to come afterwards and one of the coolest cities in the world. Reykjavík is one of the hippest, grooviest and prettiest cities anywhere and is full of lovely places to visit and hang out. Hopefully the Northern Lights will be in full working order while you’re here and then there’s always the local hospitality otherwise known as Brennivín or as the locals call it – The Black Death. Alcohol is a major thing in this part of the world and since they’ve only had beer on sale here since 1989 they taken something of a hardcore shine to it. Suffice to say that the good times will rock and almost definitely roll as well.

6)       Speaking of Reykjavik, imagine it’s 3am and we’re working our way through another bottle of bourbon and sharing war stories – what’s the soundtrack gonna be?

Given both our rather solid backgrounds in the music business in the 80s and 90s and my passion for the whole post-punk Goth thing I would imagine that it would feature Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club, The Cramps, The Jesus And Marychain, Husker Du, The Ramones and possibly even The Cult and Mother Love Bone. I also remember reading somewhere that you used to have a bit of a thing for Patricia Morrison so we’d probably have to play a few tracks off The Sisters Of Mercy’s second album and as you seem to think that I’m some sort of doppelganger for this Black Francis fellow I guess we’d wind up listening to The Pixies too. And as the night went on, eyes blurred, sentences shortened and dawn approached probably shitloads of Nick Cave.

7)       Fahrenheit readers are passionate about the books they read – if you could make 3 suggestions of books that you think are must reads for crime fiction fans – what would they be?

As far as crime fiction goes I would always point people in the direction of ‘Mystic River’ by Dennis Lehane. It’s as good as it gets. The other two books I would recommend aren’t crime fiction but they are both extremely dark and twisted – ‘And The Ass Saw The Angel’ by Nick Cave is my favourite read of all time and ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy is the best thing I’ve ever read. There’s a slight distinction there. All three of those books are totally fucking genius in their own way.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

My Last Húrra!

The end of an era is upon us. After just over two years in the beautiful city of Reykjavík it would seem that my time here has come to an end or is just about to at any rate. As I gear up for the most exciting moment yet in my fledgling writing career it turns out that it will also serve as my farewell to Iceland.

Iceland Noir takes place in a little over five weeks’ time on the 17th, 18th and 19th of November and it is going to come as something of a shock to many who know me in the crime writing community that I am on the verge of leaving my adopted Nordic homeland. What I am really doing though is swapping one adopted Nordic home for another. Straight after the festival I will be moving some 3,000 km to southern Finland where I will be settling in the idyllic medieval town of Porvoo. Klovharu, otherwise known as Moomin Island or the place where Tove Jansson built her summer house lies just off the coast of Porvoo so I expect to be seeing fat little trolls in my dreams.

From a writing perspective what it means is that after the impending release of ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ by Fahrenheit Press and then one last Icelandic novella ‘Out On The Ice’ my books will no longer be set in Iceland. I have recently begun work on a new as yet untitled novel set at and around Surujärvi a fictional lake in south-eastern Finland. Gone will be the meandering and at times completely useless Detective Grímur Karlsson of the Reykjavík police force and soon he will be replaced by the much tougher and nastier Detective Markku Waris of Finland’s law-enforcement counterparts.

Iceland Noir will be the perfect platform for me to launch ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ my debut release with Fahrenheit Press who will also be re-releasing my first novel ‘On A Small Island’ at the same time. I will be appearing on the ‘Darkness: What frightens you?’ panel at the festival alongside Ævar Örn Jósepsson, Thomas Enger and AK Benedict as well as moderating the ‘F**king Sweary’ panel which should be a landmark event in the history of literary festivals and will contain Val McDermid, J.S Law, Craig Robertson and Derek Farrell. If I am to be remembered for just one thing by my friends in Reykjavík I genuinely hope that it is for swearing my head off in front of a paying audience at Nordic House on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a tough and at times disgusting fucking job but someone’s gotta do it.

Literary festivals can, dare I say it, be a little tedious if you’re not a huge fan of listening to authors talk about themselves so I’m hoping to inject some much needed irreverence into proceedings by encouraging Val, Craig, James and Derek to do more than a little swearing on my behalf. The fact that three of them are Scots, my grandparents were Scottish and that Derek hails from Dublin should not be lost on anyone. We Celts are at the forefront of all things sweary. Always have been, always will and that folks is just the way we fucking like it.
So, if you’ve nothing else on at 5:30pm on Saturday the 19th of November pop down to Nordic House to see what a real storm looks and sounds like here in Iceland. After all, we can’t let the weather have all the fun.

Monday, 15 August 2016

My Top 5 'Desert Island' European DVDs

Top 5 Desert Island DVDs (sub-category: European)

1: Betty Blue (France) – ‘Betty Blue’ is a movie I discovered in my teens and the first French film to ever ‘break out’ on the other side of the world. It was a phenomenon in 1986 and was the biggest grossing French film of all time until ‘A Prophet’ came along in 2009. It is, in my opinion, also the only film ever to have a ‘director’s cut’ that is actually better than the original cinematic release. Jean-Jacques Beineix was told that his original 3 hour version would not be released and that after the financial failure of his previous film he was to cut ‘Betty Blue’ down to 2 hours. He did so to ensure the release of the film but then 15 years later was able to release the version he had always wanted to. It’s hard to say exactly what the main strengths of ‘Betty Blue’ are simply because there are so many to choose from. The performances from Jean-Hugues Anglade and Béatrice Dalle are mouth-watering as is the cinematography and the unforgettable soundtrack. It’s the saddest love story I can think of and that’s why it’s the greatest love story of all time.

2: Frozen Land (Finland) – ‘Frozen Land’ or ‘Paha Maa’ as it is known in its home country is about as Finnish as it gets. It is the interconnected stories of a bunch of sad, troubled people trying to get their lives together against a backdrop of poverty, crime, loneliness, alcoholism and copious amounts of despair, grief and loss. It is not a happy watch but it is undeniably brilliant. Shot in a Finnish winter as you might expect from the title it is heavy going from the beginning and doesn’t let up at any point along the way to the sad, poignant ending. What it does give you en route though is a solid insight into Finnish ways of dealing with loss and the acceptance that life just hasn’t turned out the way you might have hoped. It won’t do much to dissuade people of the idea that Finland is full of vodka-drinking suicide cases even if in my experience the Finns are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It is a hard-hitting social commentary on modern life and what people will do in the pursuit of money.

3: Mastermind (Sweden) – This is brilliant. Episode 6 of Yellow Bird’s Wallander Series 1 was so good that it was deemed worthy of a cinematic release. It is the story of a disgruntled villain who Kurt Wallander helped put in prison. While said villain was incarcerated his daughter killed herself. When he gets out it’s time for revenge and he gets a job where he can keep a close eye on Wallander and his colleagues. Both Martinsson and Wallander have their daughters kidnapped in circumstances that are both ingenious and genuinely spooky and soon both officers are desperately trying to stop the unthinkable from happening. The writing is so clever I wanted to stand up and clap the first time I watched it and it was a huge influence on my first novel. All three series are worth a watch. This just happens to be the crowning jewel.

4: Rare Exports (Finland) – Another Finnish movie here and this time we are embracing the other side of the Finnish mind-set – total craziness. Two young boys stumble upon what looks to be a large mining operation near the Finnish/Russian border but they can’t possibly be ready for what it is that the scientists are trying to extract from the ice. Santa Claus is coming to town but not the rotund affable Santa that we all know and love. No. This is the giant child-eating phenomenon that Finland has. Once his many helpers find out that Santa is about to be released from his icy tomb hundreds of naked Finnish men in their late 90s start to arrive to help him out. They slaughter entire reindeer herds and hide him in a barn where they defrost him by stealing the town’s supply of heaters and radiators as well as every single potato sack in sight. That’s right, potato sacks. Is this because Santa loves his tatties? No. It’s because you can fill them with children and then he has something to eat when he gets free. This film is disturbing and hilarious in equal measures and genuinely tickled my sense of humour. The Finns are a lot funnier than people give them credit for and this movie is a great example of that even if the humour is as dark as midnight on a Lapland winter’s evening. The title comes from the fact that all the naked ‘helpers’ are cleaned up at the end of the film and shipped off around the world to become Santas in their own rights.

5: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France) – This tender and touching film is based on the memoir of journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine. It shows us what his life is like after suffering a massive stroke that left him with ‘locked-in syndrome’ and how his speech therapist helped him write his autobiography using the only part of his body that still moved to dictate the text to her. His left eyelid. She devises a way that he can work through the letters of the alphabet and spell out each word for her. The technique is simple but incredibly time-consuming and her patience is endless but the brilliance of the story is found in the compassion that the two main participants bring to a strange and sombre tale. There is something haunting about the movie and the gentle way that the nurse brings this broken man back to the point where he wants to tell the world about what has happened to him. I’m not usually one for these ‘guy overcomes all odds’ sorts of stories but this left me feeling genuinely moved mainly because of the relationship that is struck up between this man and his one and only link with the ‘outside’ world.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

My interview with Scandinavia On My Mind

Crime writer Grant Nicol on Reykjavik’s mean streets, leaving behind New Zealand and the birthday that changed his life.

Grant Nicol was celebrating his fortieth birthday in Reykjavik when he decided he wanted to make Iceland home.

Some might think that the New Zealand writer had merely swapped one volcanic island for another but, after leaving his homeland 23 years ago to work in both Australia and the United Kingdom, Grant knew instinctively that Iceland was a country he didn’t want to say goodbye to. It’s probably a good thing Grant came back, considering his three crime novels are all set in Iceland.

Below is our interview with Grant:

You moved from New Zealand to Iceland, swapping one volcanic island for another. How different is life in Reykjavik?

Well, I actually left New Zealand 23 years ago. I spent time in both Sydney and Belfast before settling here in Reykjavík. About ten years in Australia and then ten in Northern Ireland as well. Iceland and New Zealand have a lot in common but they’re really different too. They are both the result of some serious volcanic action but New Zealand as a land mass is much, much older. On the other hand, Iceland has been settled much longer than New Zealand. Geologically Iceland is the youngest country on the planet while New Zealand is the youngest as in the most recently inhabited. There is geothermal water abundant in both countries although it is much more abundant in Iceland where we would struggle to survive comfortably without it. Without all the underground hot water here to heat our homes and provide hot water for our showers and taps life would be infinitely more expensive. They even use the geothermal hot water here to heat the public swimming pools and underneath the footpaths in the centre of town. In New Zealand there’s a few hot pools and geysers but nothing like Iceland.

The people and the language in Iceland are both very different from back home but there are definite similarities too. Icelanders are about 50% Irish/Scottish and 50% Viking so they’re not as different as you might think. I’m from a Scottish background but my family name was originally abbreviated from a Norwegian one. We descended from Vikings on the Isle of Skye and then somehow worked our way to New Zealand. And now back again.

The weather here is colder than back home and yet very familiar. The speed with which it can change here is very like New Zealand. Both countries are surrounded by huge expanses of water. The climate in Reykjavík wouldn’t be all that dissimilar to say, Dunedin. I’ve seen snow at the beach in both cities. Both nations are quite small although Iceland’s population is really tiny and we both seem to share a real ‘can do’ attitude simply because in both countries there is a real history of having to do things yourself if you want them done at all.

Reykjavík might be small but it has everything you would want in a city including art galleries, theatres, opera, independent cinemas and a world-class concert chamber that houses the Icelandic Symphony.

The main differences that any Kiwi moving here would notice would be the daylight hours (super-short in winter and never-ending in the middle of summer) and the almost total lack of tress. In some ways Iceland is a mirror image of the North Island of New Zealand where anything and everything you throw at the ground can and will grow. There is so little topsoil in Iceland that most of it is imported. And the trees. I was in Oslo recently and it was just so amazing to be able to get on the train for 20 minutes and be in the middle of a giant forest. The real deal, just like back home.
And beaches, there no beaches in Iceland that you would sunbathe on except for Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík which was manmade with imported sand; and like the South Island of New Zealand most of the time it is way too cold to sunbathe here anyway. And there’s very little in the way of rugby here but I did notice recently a poster advertising for a women’s rugby team so there’s still hope.

What was it about Reykjavik that made you want to settle there permanently? – 

I first visited Reykjavík in 2006 for my 40th birthday. I absolutely loved the place and immediately started sprouting thoughts of moving. At the time I still only had my New Zealand passport and so any such plans had to be put on hold until I had been in the UK long enough to apply for citizenship. Once that was achieved and I had that British passport in my hand I started thinking about it much more seriously. After that initial trip I revisited Reykjavík once a year until I had made a total of 6 trips in the space of 5 years. The turning point came in 2012 when I saw Sigur Rós play here. They blew my mind. I mean totally. I spent 6 years working as a roadie in the 90s and have seen hundreds of rock bands live.

Sigur Rós inhabit the heady stratosphere of modern rock somewhere between Radiohead and heaven. I decided that night as I left the gig that any country that could produce a band like that, I want to be part of. And so serious plans were finally put into action and a year and a half later I made my move.

You began by writing screen plays: how did you move into writing crime fiction? –

My early attempts at writing were rather half-hearted and very much took 2nd place to my rather successful apprenticeship in Sydney as a social butterfly. I never really let the writing get in the way of going out and having a good time so unsurprisingly the screenplays never really amounted to anything but they were good practise for what was to come. In 2011 a really old friend from my school days at Northcote College in Auckland was killed in a car accident. Simon’s death was a huge shock and really drove home the point that your life can be over and done with at any time. It was then that I decided to prioritise my life and put all my free time into writing. And this time novels, not screenplays. When I was looking for somewhere to set my first book Iceland came to mind because I was spending so much time up here every year and so it became the location for book ‘On A Small Island’ and the story pretty much had to be crime fiction because that was what I’d grown up reading. From the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series to true crime books about Jeffrey Dahmer and Andrei Chikatilo to the works of James Ellroy and James Thompson, crime both real and imagined had always been my literary world. A lot of the ideas for my books still come from true crime. I have always been, fascinated by the extraordinary evil that men do.

You said your first book, ‘On A Small Island’, took you longer to write than anything else. Can you tell us how you got from page one to getting published? – 

‘On A Small Island’ was a 4 year project for me. A lot of that time was spent wondering what the story was actually going to be about and writing my way through the doubts I had about my early storyline ideas. The first two or three drafts bore no resemblance to the finished product at all.
By the fourth draft my story finally started to appear. It was heavily influenced by an Icelandic documentary on child abuse called ‘Syndir feðranna’. This true story provided the backstory for the book and became very important to me. It’s a poignant and harrowing tale about a home for wayward boys that used to operate in Breiðavík in the Westfjords. Today it has become a guesthouse for tourists. When I was happy with what I had written which was about draft #7 I started looking for an agent and/or publisher. Nothing happened for me so I decided to self-publish the book. It was a really good learning experience and definitely helped me find Number Thirteen Press who published my second book ‘The Mistake’. I have recently agreed a deal with Fahrenheit Press to publish my new book ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ and to re-release ‘On A Small Island’ so it’s been a complicated story and one that’s still not over.

I think most visitors to Reykjavik would have trouble imagining the cute and quirky city as being inspiration from crime fiction. Does the city have its mean streets? Is there a darker side (not talking about winter!) that tourists may not be aware of? – 

Not really but as with any city there are definitely people you would to avoid. There is very little in the way of crime here but it does exist. To imagine otherwise would be naïve in the extreme. There is a drug dealer who lives right across the street from us in what is otherwise a lovely, leafy suburban street. Not only does he constantly deal to his customers on the street in broad daylight but the police won’t do anything about it. He has been in and out of Litla Hraun so many times that he has his name on one of the cell doors there and they know he is selling drugs out of his apartment but still they do nothing. The guy knows every junkie and lowlife in town and occasionally makes amphetamine-fuelled threats to the neighbours so despite what most visitors might think, Iceland is no paradise. It’s just a whole lot nicer than most other places I’ve been. Apart from idiots like this guy the police only really have to worry about booze-driven domestic violence and a few methamphetamine labs.

6: Why do you think the rest of the world is so in love with Scandi-noir? – Scandi-noir is enjoying the success it is because of what the rest of the world has seen in the last ten years or so coming out of Sweden and Denmark in particular. The foundation of this, for me anyway, was the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell and the awesome Swedish television series starring Krister Henriksson. That series was followed by the awesome ‘The Bridge’ and there were also Stieg Larson’s books that really put it on the map worldwide. It has been a heady mixture of literature and television that has done it and long may it continue.

Do you think that Iceland will continue to be the setting for your future crime novels? – 

For my next three books at least. ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ is set there, my next novella ‘Out On The Ice’ is set there and the book after that is as well. After that, who knows? I had dreamed that at some point I might drift around Scandinavia and my stories would just follow me. That might still happen. I’ve found over the years that it’s not always wise to plan too far in advance.

What are your five favourite places anywhere in Scandinavia and why? –

In no particular order whatsoever… Told og Snaps in Copenhagen for the best open sandwiches, craft beer and small batch schnapps in Denmark, Svartkulp just to the north of Oslo which is my favourite deserted forest hideaway, Restaurant Zeleste also in Copenhagen for the best lobster lunch anywhere, Huk Beach in Oslo which is an incredibly relaxing little spot so close to the city centre and on-board the Arlanda Express – I just love really fast trains!

Svartkulp, Norway

Friday, 10 June 2016

How I Got Here From There (Iceland 2016)

In 2009, the year after the banking crash in Iceland, and the rest of the known universe, I decided the time was finally ripe for me to visit the unique North Atlantic hideaway and tick another country of my to-do list. It was back then a somewhat mysterious little island hidden away near the top of the world that I knew remarkably little about and yet I was very aware of its fearsome reputation for being cool as hell. A reputation that is, I can now categorically confirm, well deserved. Seven years later and here I am reflecting on exactly how that trip changed my life. I was so taken with the tiny nation of just over 300,000 people that I returned the next year and over and over again until I had somehow made six visits in the space of five years and finally decided that I was going to leave the UK behind and have a crack at making Iceland my home. I moved to Reykjavík from Belfast eighteen months ago and not only have I made the place my home but I would now seriously struggle to imagine myself leaving it. I read somewhere once that home is not where you come from but where you no longer want to run away from. Well, that’s what I’ve found.
Since my first visit here I have published two books ‘On A Small Island’ and ‘The Mistake’ which are both set in and around Reykjavík and now have a third and a fourth book on the way. I have been embraced by the close knit crime writing community here and am on the organising committee for the 2016 Iceland Noir crime writing festival which will be held at Nordic house in Reykjavík this November. Two years ago I attended the festival as a fan and this year I’ll be moderating the closing panel. That’s how quickly the weather can change around here. In the years between my first visit and my actual move here I spent a lot of time reading any translated crime fiction I could get my hands on from Iceland and got to know the work of authors such as Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson, Árni Þórarinsson, Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Since arriving here I have discovered that in addition to them there are many other local crime writers as well whose works are only now being translated into English or will be soon.

The crime writing scene here is much bigger than I could have ever imagined and everybody is very supportive of each other in a way you might not experience in larger countries. I can now count Sólveig Pálsdóttir, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Jónína Leósdóttir, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson among my friends here as well as British author Quentin Bates who spent ten years here before moving back to the UK and whose books are all set in Iceland. All of these lovely people will be appearing in one shape or another at Iceland Noir this year.

The idea for Iceland Noir was dreamt up in 2013 by Ragnar Jónasson, Quentin Bates and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and to their immense credit the initial one-day festival went ahead after only six months of preparation. In 2014 Reykjavík was the host city again before the festival moved to the Shetland Islands in 2015. It is now back in Iceland again for 2016 before it takes to the road once more and heads to Hull in England next year. It is one of the smaller crime writing festivals around but that is definitely part of its charm. Its size makes it very easy to mingle with writers and other fans, something that is not always easy at some of the larger festivals. When you couple its intimate size and its lovely local authors with the picturesque setting of Europe’s most northerly capital it really is a combination not to be missed. Just in case you need some more convincing to head up this way here is the website for the coolest crime-writing festival in Europe:

As well as the local writers we also have a superb selection of visiting authors from all over the world including Val McDermid and Craig Robertson from Scotland, Viveca Sten from Sweden, Sara Blædel from Denmark, Leena Lehtolainen and Kati Hiekkapelto from Finland as well as Alexandra Sokoloff and Jeffrey Siger from the US. There will also be one and two-day guided tours following the festival with local crime writers showing off some of their favourite destinations around the country and settings from their books including a tour to Siglufjörður with Ragnar Jónasson to see the locations from his Dark Iceland series.
There is a gala dinner with the authors at a luxurious inner city hotel on the Saturday night and a city crime walk with readings from a few handpicked local authors including myself on the first night of the festival. So it is definitely one to keep in the back of your mind if you’ve ever entertained any thoughts of visiting Iceland. 2016 might just be the year to do it. It really is a wonderful place and very easy to get to from the UK, mainland Europe and the US. In November the weather will be chilly and the days short but that will only add to the feeling that you are tucked away safe and sound at the top of the world with a bunch of crime-writing lunatics.

The festival coincides with the advent of the ‘Noir in the North’ conference at Háskóli Íslands (the University of Iceland) and one of our participating authors Val McDermid will be appearing at both events. The star of Icelandic crime fiction is very much on the rise at the moment with the huge success of Ófærð (Trapped) by RVK studios here in Reykjavík. In Norway the show drew 500,000 viewers per episode which is 10% of the Norwegian population and in the UK it pulled 1.2 million viewers per episode on BBC4. Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series has been optioned for television, Lilja Sigurðardóttir has sold the film rights to her book ‘The Trap’ and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s book ‘I Remember You’ has already been shot here in Iceland and will be in cinemas this Christmas. Iceland is quickly becoming a hot seat of Nordic crime fiction action after many years of being in the shadow of Sweden and Denmark with their shows such as The Killing, Wallander, The Bridge and those movies about the girl with the dragon tattoo. I can quite easily see this year’s Iceland Noir being the best yet and needless to say I’m really looking forward to it. In the next month I will be publishing my third book ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ through Fahrenheit Press who will also be republishing my first book ‘On A Small Island’ while I finish work on book number four so it’s shaping up as a pretty busy year for us all and that’s just the way we like it here in Iceland. And now I’m off to the shops to get some more coffee.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

'The Mistake' longlisted for the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award.

Out of 40+ entries this year 'The Mistake' has made the final nine of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel

The finalists will be announced in July with the winner announced at WORD Christchurch on 27 August.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Shaken, Rattled and Rolled: From Auckland to Reykjavík in 3 easy moves.

Grant’s story begins properly in January 1995 while he’s sitting on the side of stage next to Billy Duffy’s guitar tech as Ian Astbury and the rest of The Cult shake their collective money-makers in front of 40,000 people on a hot day in Sydney, Australia. In the midst of a distinguished six year stint on the road that included meeting Jeff Buckley and getting stoned with Evan Dando on a rooftop in Christchurch he would come to realise that you can do pretty much whatever you want with your life if you’re prepared to put in the hard yards. On that summer’s day long ago along with Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy there was also Mark Lanegan, Al Jourgensen and Bobby Gillespie on hand to inspire Grant with their free-spirited and wholehearted approach to life. You can read whatever you want into that. We all know what those guys are about.
Jump forward fifteen years and for his sins Grant finds himself living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We can only assume that his sins were extremely serious and that hell was never going to be good enough for him. The sudden death of a dear friend back in New Zealand brought about the realisation that life can end any time it feels like it and that the time to do what you really want to do with your life is now. It’s always been now but in this painful instance the word hit home with a new and pressing urgency. So it was finally time to stop fucking around and write that book that he’d always wanted to write.

So now we jump forward one more time to the here and now and not only is Grant living in Iceland - the land of the midnight sun, 24 hour party elves and cartons of milk covered in magic mushroom eating Yule Lads - but he’s put his head down, done the hard yards and published a novel and a novella. ‘On A Small Island’ and ‘The Mistake’ have made quite a name for themselves in the world of Iceland Noir and he’s just about to publish his third book ‘A Place To Bury Strangers’ with Fahrenheit Press. It’s beginning to look a lot like he was right all along.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A homage to our friends in Finland - especially Finland Män.

Finland Män is like tis.

When weik up in mornink, Finland Män först tink öpaut kross näshional produkt. Must wörk lot. Pefore die, häv tu pay haus to pänk. Pänk take 50 prosent ov Finland Män säläry. Kovörment täx ofis take 60 prosent. Must wörk more.

Finland Män is like tis.

When ket out ov ped, Finland Män kou tu kitshön. Trink kofi. Tsek eemails. Eat one moose. If inaf time, say helou to Womän ät home. Not shou emousshiöns. Then Finland Män kou tu wörk.

Finland Män is like tis.

When trive out ov karaash, Finland Män look at neipörs kar. If neipörs kar smaller, Finland Män smile. If neipörs kar pikkör, Finland Män not shou emousshiöns.

Finland Män is like tis.

When ket tu wörk, Finland Män nevö stop. When Finland Män wos littel tshild, not ket milk from Mothör. Ket protestant etik. When Finland Män häv own fiuneral, then daunshift.

Finland Män is like tis.

When 12 o klok, Finland Män häv luntsh. Eat one moose. Eat älone. Not spiik tu änipadi. If waitter smile, Finland Män tink: why I luk funny? Not shou emousshiöns. Tsek eemails.

Finland Män is like tis.

When Fraiday, Finland Män kou tu trink piör with othör Finland Män. Not spiik. When trink tuu matsh piör änd pottel ov votka, say tu othör Finland Män: “You my pest frend.” Then kou tu karaoke. Sing säd song. This häpi moument.

Finland Män is like tis.

When young, kou tu one parti. Late evenink kou tu spiik Womän. If laki, Womän spiik too. Then puild home. Eat moose tukethör.

Finland Män is like tis.

When Satördei, Finland Män kou tu sauna. Trow sevön pakets ov watör on roks. Äfter sauna häv äpointment in pedroom with Womän. Not shou emousshiöns.

Finland Män is like tis.

When Womän ät home äsk öpaut love, Finland Män not änswör. Finland Män say: tis we olredi talk on thö altar. Not shou emousshiöns.

Finland Män is like tis.

When Womän ät home want divorss änd leave Finland Män, Finland Män sörprised. Not shou emousshiöns. Finland Män kou tu forest änd talk tu tree. Then eat moose älone. Tsek eemails.

Finland Män is like tis.

When holiday, Finland Män trive kar tu lake. Finland Män is petter triver thän evripadi. Finland Män trive kantri road fäst. If kams moose, tuu päd. Moose die. Finland Män eat.

Finland män is like tis.

When with othör piippul, Finland Män want tu be älone. When älone, Finland Män äsk himself, why nopodi like me? Eat one moose. Tsek eemails.

Finland Män is like tis.

When olmost retire, Finland Män häv hart ätäk. Not tel enipadi, pekoos is shame. Tsek eemails. Then die. Tis wos Finland Män.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Icelandic Politics.

Today in Austurvöllur Square marked the seventh day of protests over the scandal initiated here by the Panama Papers which revealed that the (now former) Prime Minister Sigmundur Davið Gunnlaugsson is holding assets in an offshore tax haven in his wife's name after pledging to rid Iceland of corruption and people avoiding paying their taxes.

He has stepped down as Prime Minister but is still an MP and chairman of the party. He has elevated one of his friends from within the cabinet to Prime Minister and a motion to dissolve the government which was put forward by the opposition has been defeated by the ruling coalition using all its votes apart from one to vote against it.

New parliamentary elections are now expected in the autumn after the new President has been elected here. It will once again be a busy year at the polls.

Support for the ruling coalition has been sliding consistently ever since they were elected and has now hit an all-time low. Sigmundur Davið's Progressive Party did not achieve the highest amount of votes in the last election but were given the opportunity to form the government by the President as they had achieved the highest swing in voting percentage of all the parties. It is a move that the President undoubtedly now regrets.

Their coalition partners the Independence Party actually received the highest percentage of votes but took a back seat as Sigmundur Davið became Prime Minister and the leader of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson became his deputy.

Many people in Iceland see the moves within the government as nothing more than superficial reshuffling and want new elections as soon as possible so that the people can have their say once again over who will lead the country.

According to recent polls the Icelandic Pirate Party would now receive a considerable slice of the vote in any new elections and it would be difficult to see any new government being formed without them. It would seem that 2016 will once again be a year of considerable change in Iceland as eight years on the ghosts of the 2008 crash continue to haunt them.