Author interview: Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

26 Jun

I’m super excited to have Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg as guests today, answering my questions on the Elgelsfors Trilogy! The Engelsfors trilogy is a series of Swedish urban fantasy novels that have now been published in over 25 countries worldwide. Fire, the second book in the trilogy was released last week and is a fantastic follow up to The Circle. Sara started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter and Mats is journalist and a regular columnist for Sweden’s biggest evening newspaper Aftonbladet.  

Fire, the second novel in the Engelsfors trilogy has just been published in the UK; for those who haven’t encountered the series yet, please could you tell us a little about it and the inspiration for it?

It’s about a group of girls in their late teens who find out that they’re witches. They’re the Chosen Ones who have to stop the apocalypse, but they also have to deal with the smaller battles that teenagers face every day in school and at home. And one of the greatest challenges for them is to learn to cooperate. They’re very different from each other, and some of them have real reasons to hate each other.

We planned for a trilogy from the beginning, so with each book the stakes get higher, and we go deeper into the mythology and continue to explore the main characters and their relationships.

We’re very much inspired by TV shows like Buffy the Vampire SlayerVeronica Mars, Freaks and Geeks and My So Called Life. And, of course, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In (a.k.a. Let Me In). Prep by Curtis Sittenfield was another literary source of inspiration for us.

Why did you choose to write about witches?

We wanted to write about teenagers who were forced to work together, despite their differences. So we thought well, having to stop the apocalypse is a good catalyst for that. Witches have often been said work in groups, in covens. We also wanted to give them different magical powers that would challenge them as individuals. For instance, the bullied girl Anna-Karin is given the power to control others’ feelings and thoughts. Of course, she will abuse that power. Who in her situation wouldn’t?.

Who are your favourite witch characters outside your own books?

We both adore the 90s film The Craft! And of course, Willow and Tara in Buffy. And Magica de Spell was always the coolest chick in Duckburg. Ursula is so much more fun than Ariel in The Little Mermaid. When Sara was little she couldn’t get enough of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Beverly Nichols’ books about the evil witch Miss Smith and The Witch’s Handbook by Malcolm Bird. And how can we not mention Hermione?

Your books aren’t afraid to tackle some of the harder hitting issues (eating disorders, bullying, depression and suicide amongst them); why did you think it was important to include these topics?

Because they were there when we grew up, and they are there among young people growing today. It just felt natural to us. But we also wanted to write about the small, everyday insecurities and difficulties that one may experience as a teenager. And the beautiful things in life – romance, friendship and solidarity.

The trilogy has a great set of six female leads; do you have a favourite from the six ‘chosen ones?’ 

We’re so happy that you like them! We don’t have any favourites however. Boring answer, but true. We love them all equally. And it’s so much fun to switch between their different perspectives.

Each witch has their own set of special powers; if you could develop a supernatural power, what would it be?

Mats: I would like to have eternal life, so that I didn’t have to be so stressed out all the time about all the things I want to do.

Sara: Teleportation would be very practical.

And finally … what can we expect next from Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg?

Right now, we are editing the third and final book, The Key. We are suffering from separation anxiety from each other and from our world. After that Sara will focus on co-writing the screenplay to the The Circle movie together with director Levan Akin. It’s being produced by former ABBA member Benny Andersson and his son Ludvig Andersson. Casting has begun and we’re so excited about being involved with this! Mats next project is a horror novel. Sara is co-writing a graphic novel called Vei which is a Viking fantasy story and she has a couple of other (secret) projects lined up. But we will definitely write together again in the future. We have so much fun when we work together.

Thank you so much Sara and Mats  and good luck with all your new ventures!

Fire is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

You can find out more about the Engelsfors Trilogy at: http://www.worldofengelsfors.com/

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