Below Zero, the sixth Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thriller, is published on Monday and I wanted to share my thoughts with you about the new book. I hope you’ll find some of these insights about how I wrote the book interesting. I also really, really, hope you enjoy Ingrid’s latest adventure.
This book took way too long to finish and it was much harder to write than Shoot First. (I know – for sure – that in the time it’s taken me to write two Skyberg novels, Eva would have written four or five. But then, Eva was incredible.) It’s really important to me that I stay as faithful as I can to Eva’s notes, but I encountered a few problems with this book that slowed me down. The big one was that Eva’s arc had Ingrid being held hostage for a long time, but I struggled to make a fast-paced thriller out of a woman sitting alone in a dark cold room. I had to add in a few plot devices that weren’t in Eva’s notes to try and keep the pace up. I think that, if Eva had been given the chance to sit down to write it, she’d also have realised it wasn’t working the way she’d plotted it. But she was smarter than me, so maybe she’d have figured out differently.
Having loved the Skyberg books before I took over the series, I was really excited to see how Ingrid would behave without her supporting cast. No Ralph, no McKittrick, no Angela Tate and, crucially, no Jennifer at the end of a phone with access to the world’s greatest database. Seeing Ingrid rely on her instincts and being free from the oversight of Sol and Marshall was fascinating: I think I got to know her even better writing Below Zero.
I think Below Zero works as a stand alone novel. I hope they all do, but I think it’s especially true of this one because it doesn’t have the supporting cast of regular characters. I think it’s another entry point into the series (as well as Run Girl, which is Book 1) for new readers. If people like Ingrid in this book, I hope they’ll go back to the beginning and see how Ingrid stopped being such a goody-two-shoes and learnt how to interpret the law with a bit more flexibility!
Eva wanted to call this book Stockholm Syndrome and making the choice not to use her title wasn’t easy. There are already several books called Stockholm Syndrome, which I thought would make it hard to differentiate Eva’s book, and I was also uncomfortable about making light of a psychological phenomenon that I don’t really know very much about. Also, Ingrid doesn’t suffer from Stockholm Syndrome in this book. Although she’s taken hostage in Stockholm, she doesn’t align herself with her captors: in the end, I just didn’t think it was the right fit. I’ve tried very hard to stick closely to Eva’s vision for the Skyberg books but I came to the conclusion that, if she were alive, she would have chosen Below Zero too. I felt confident making this decision because (brag alert) I named Fresh Doubt and Deep Hurt, so I’m hoping Eva would have listened to my suggestion on this one too.
I went on a research trip to Stockholm late last year, and the really weird thing is when I think about it, I have memories of being with Eva there. Strange and odd, but also fitting.
There’s a mention in Below Zero about Doctor Who. That’s a little insider joke between me and Eva. Ditto the Xena reference. Eva was a huge fan of the Tenth Doctor (keen readers may have spotted that Ralph bears an uncanny resemblance to David Tennant) and it was nice to get in something that I know would have made her smile.
I also think Eva would like how often Ingrid says ‘tack’ (the Swedish for ‘thank you’) in Below Zero. As you may well know from her old blog posts, she was a massive fan of Scandi noir and loved The Killing. For a time, she would say ‘tack’ instead of thank you, so when I found out that ‘tack’ – phonetically at least – is the same in Swedish as it is in Danish, I knew Eva would have made Ingrid say ‘tack’ a lot too! (The very fact that Eva chose a Swedish name for her protagonist was a total nod to the Scandi books she loved so much.)
The plot device about the weapons components came from a memoir I ghosted a very long time ago for a mercenary who had done just this kind of secret drop relating to missiles used in the Iran-Iraq war. So, if you think it’s a bit far-fetched, think again.
The hypothermia plot line also came straight from another project I’ve ghosted. This year I’ve been working with the brilliant Megan Hine, a survival expert and adventurer who often works behind the scenes on TV shows with Bear Grylls. Meg relayed a heart-stopping tale to me about a contestant on one of her shows who fell into icy water and nearly died, and the next week I found myself in need of a life-threatening medical condition that Ingrid could cure without tools or medicine and I realised I had one! Don’t be surprised if Ingrid miraculously develops all sorts of skills and insights because I’ve had the privilege of working with Meg. (Meg’s book doesn’t go on sale until next year, but if you like strong female protagonists, you might find it interesting. It’s available for pre-order.)
It’s a huge honour to continue writing the Skyberg books. I miss Eva every day but it truly does help to have Ingrid in my life.
Below Zero: Ingrid Skyberg FBI Thrillers Book 6
No badge, no gun, no backup. This time, Ingrid is on her own.
Stockholm is under siege. A bomb has gone off, a series of high profile people have been kidnapped, and the city is on lockdown. Unfortunately for Special Agent Ingrid Skyberg, everything is kicking off on the same day she is in town to complete a dangerous assignment.
Her undercover mission is so secret, and so illegal, that neither the FBI or the US government can ever know about it. Her instructions are simple: no ID, no credit cards, no trace. If Ingrid ends up in jail, or floating face down in the harbor, there can be no way of identifying her.
Set in the snowy landscapes of a Swedish winter, Below Zero finds the FBI’s most dogged agent on the wrong side of the law and on the run. Using all her knowledge and training to evade capture, Ingrid is forced to break the rules again and again and again in order to stay alive.
ON SALE ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 28TH 2016
Pre-order from Amazon now
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