I'm interviewing novelist, Mia Thompson. Mia was born and grew up in Sweden coming to the U.S. to study film at age 19. She's since become the international bestseller of YA thrillers featuring Sapphire Dubois.
Mia, did the long dark Swedish winters of your childhood contribute to your decision to write about serial killers?
I’ve never connected the dots before, but two things are common during a Swedish winter. One: winter depression, induced by lack of sunlight. Two: people go to bars, because there’s nothing else to do. Add those two together and you get depressed drunks. So, growing up surrounded by depressed drunks for seven months out of the year might’ve entrenched a glum morbid-ness in me. With that deduction, I’d say yes, probably.
You must've read Scandinavian noir as a teenager. Who do you like and how have they influenced your writing?
The majority of the books I remember reading in my teen years were actually by American, English, and Irish authors. A Swedish author who did influence me a lot, but much earlier in life, was Astrid Lindgren. Every Swede has grown up with Astrid’s characters, and the worlds she created have become staples of our childhood. Her work showed me how much story can affect people, and I carry that knowledge with me every time I sit down to write.
I can see that. Sapphire Dubois is kind of a twenty-first century Pippi Longstocking.
My God, you’re right! Add killers, blood, and a foul-mouthed cop to Pippi’s strength, wealth, and forced independence and we’ve got Sapphire. Clearly, I carry even more of Astrid’s work with me than I thought.
Without giving us too many spoilers, tell us about Sentencing Sapphire.
Sentencing Sapphire is everything Stalking Sapphire and Silencing Sapphire have lead to. People can expect that the ante has been upped on the general chaos in Sapphire Dubois’ life, and that an awaited confrontation will take place. With that said, it may or may not contain the conclusion of two certain main characters, who may or may not end up together.
I’m looking forward to it! Pub date is October 6, 2015, all you Sapphire fans.
Do you see Sapphire as having a character arc that spans your 5 book series?
One of the first things I learned about writing was that you should always start your character out at the lowest point in their emotional/spiritual journey, whether your character knows it or not. That is exactly how I’ve set up Sapphire’s arc. In each book I inch her closer to the person she is supposed to be. One of her major arcs does happen in Sentencing Sapphire, but her testing trials are far from over. If everything goes the way I’ve planned, Sapphire should be “complete” so to speak, by the end of book 5.
Are there any similarities between Sapphire Dubois and yourself—and if so, could I have a loan?
Ha! There are. Unfortunately, none you’d want. Though I definitely view Sapphire as a kickass alter ego, I’ve come to realize that I’ve placed some of my less appealing qualities in her. If you take out the words serial killer throughout the books and replace them with the word writing, that’s me. I am as obsessed with my imaginary world, as she is with her serial killers.
I loved the plot point guidelines you taught at the Las Vegas Writers' Conference. Any plans for teaching at an upcoming conference?
I have nothing lined up at this moment, but I’m open to it. It’s funny, because it’s something I never wanted to do, or ever saw myself doing. But once I was up there, giving the lecture for the first time, I was shocked to find out how much I enjoyed it. If you asked anyone I grew up with to imagine me standing in front of a class, holding a lecture, they’d probably laugh their asses off at the idea.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?
I love it when I get the initial idea for a story. At this stage, the story is so full of possibilities, and absent of holes, that all I feel is excitement. To me, the feeling is reminiscent of falling in love. The ideas that are flighty crushes, lacking substance, eventually go away. The ideas that my mind keeps fleshing out are the ones I deem a wholesome relationship—the stories I eventually write.
My least favorite part, besides from the general stress that comes with the gig, is what can happen in the aftermath of the process. For instance, after Silencing Sapphire came out I got a box full of the books. I picked one up, then sniffed it (because there’s no better smell) and cracked it open to a random page. The first thing I saw was that I had accidently written Mrs. Havisham, instead of Miss Havisham in a reference. Anyone familiar with Great Expectations, knows what an idiotic and ironic mistake that is to make. It killed me. Frankly, I’m still dead.
In the future, write Ms. And you’re good. Mia, thanks for the interview. Best of luck with Sentencing Sapphire.