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Interview with Karin Fossum, author of He Who Fears the Wolf

Karin Fossum is the author of many novels and two collections of short stories. Her crime novels featuring Inspector Sejer have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Oslo.


Inspector Sejer is hard at work again, investigating the brutal murder of a woman who lived alone in the middle of the woods. The chief suspect is another loner, a schizophrenic recently escaped from a mental institution. The only witness is a twelve-year-old boy, overweight, obsessed with archery, and a resident at a home for delinquents. When a demented man robs a nearby bank and accidentally takes the suspect hostage, the three misfits are drawn into an uneasy alliance.

Shrewdly, patiently, as is his way, Inspector Sejer confronts a case where the strangeness of the crime is matched only by the strangeness of the criminals, and where small-town prejudices warp every piece of information he tries to collect. Fossum once again provides extraordinary insight into marginalized lives and richly evokes the atmosphere she captured so brilliantly in Don't Look Back.

Q: In He Who Fears the Wolf, Errki escapes from an asylum; and Jannick lives in a home for boys. How were you able to capture the psychology involved with these characters?
A: I have been working in several institutions. I know outsiders well, and I sympathize with them.

Q: Prior to its Harcourt debut in the United States, He Who Fears the Wolf was released around the world. In a review, the Sunday Times said, "Fossum's presentation of her characters is marked by an intelligence and compassion that is not often found in the pages of crime fiction." When it comes to your work, what marks a book’s success for you?
A: That the readers believe in my story. That I have been able to move them.

Q: Inspector Konrad Sejer first appeared in Don’t Look Back (Harcourt, 2004). What do you like most about this character?
A: He is serious and decent. And he loves his work.

Q: Originally published in Norway, your crime novels that feature Inspector Sejer have been translated into sixteen languages. How does it feel to have your books so widely published?
A: It feels strange. I look upon them as small, quiet stories.

Q: Do you have any plans for another Inspector Sejer mystery?
A: Yes. I'm working on it. I have fallen in love with this genre. [The third book in Fossum's series, When the Devil Holds the Candle will be available in July 2006.]

Q: You’ve been dubbed Norway’s "Queen of Crime." What do you enjoy most about writing crime novels?
A: The drama. The tragedy. The psychology. The mystery.

Q: As a writer, what’s been your proudest moment?
A: When I published my first collection of poetry at the age of twenty (1974).

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Karin Fossum

Karin Fossum

He Who Fears the Wolf

He Who Fears the Wolf

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