Thursday, 12 April 2012

Interrogating Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen

I've gone international with the Danish author Dorte, writer of cosy mysteries.

First, let me thank Joo for this opportunity to tell you a bit about myself and my crime fiction. 

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

When I was still hoping to find a publisher, I did try to suss what would appeal to an editor right then. One example was that I made my Danish protagonist more feminist than planned, but even though I think a couple of gory murders thrown in might have done the trick, I just didn´t want to write that kind of book. And since I took the plunge into self-publishing last year, I have enjoyed the freedom to write exactly the kind of stories I like reading. The funny thing is that the readers have rewarded me with excellent reviews of my latest novel - written by a free and happy indie spirit. 

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

Ever since I read my first Enid Blyton mystery when I was seven or eight, crime fiction has been my favourite genre. I read a variety of subgenres but prefer the traditional mystery or police procedural. For me the main attractions are the puzzle, the excitement and the neat and tidy endings. 

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them? 

When I have really good ideas, I try to store them somewhere in my computer. So yes, I have an electronic folder for future ideas. But I don´t worry too much about that aspect as I have never been short of ideas for mysteries. What I need is time and energy to write down all the plots that emerge in my nasty mind day and night. 

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with? 

When I wrote my first novel (only published in Danish so far), I was determined to come up with a main character with plenty of room for further development. The result: Anna was such a bland wimp that no one (including me) could stand the first version. It took a loooong time to beat some of the dust out of her, but now my readers seem to accept my fairly realistic anti-heroine. What I learnt from this experience was to create a plucky heroine when I changed tack and began writing an English cosy series. So even if Rhapsody Gershwin shares my background in the way that she is a vicar´s daughter and I am a vicar´s wife, she really lives up to her name. She is curious and outgoing, and even though she is too intelligent to be reckless, she and her sisters would do almost anything to save a friend in danger. I am not nearly as active and outgoing as Rhapsody (partly because I suffer from Chronic Fatigue), but she is a smart and generous character I like, and I hope we have some things in common. 

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if he´s married to you or one of your characters? 

Who, me? Nooo, never. But it might be a good idea to ask my husband for a second opinion. 

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write? 

Yes, on the whole. But even though I have realized that it is perfect for me with my short concentration span to write short and humorous cosy mysteries, I wouldn´t want to read them all the time. So they are also perfect reading material for a bleary day, but when I feel better, I pick books which are less idyllic and more exciting. 

What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor? 

Not very far, I am afraid. What I really loathe as a reader is when a misleading blurb or recommendation makes me pay for a book which is not my taste at all. So as a writer I do my best to target my promotion by being very open about what genre and style I write. I may lose a few customers in the first place, but it seems that several of my readers come back for more. 

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made? 

What makes you think I ever....? Err, I have been known to whine or rant at home if a reader has complained about my language, but I know better than to do so publicly. The last time I got a negative review I did the sensible thing by sending the story off to two trusted beta readers. They both assured me the language ´wasn´t bad´, but they suggested I made it less formal. So now I feel confident my story is worth every cent or penny, and as long as I know that, negative reviews bother me less. 

What do you like most about visiting KUF? 

Now that´s an easy question. It is an extremely friendly and helpful place to spend your time. Some forums make an indie writer feel like a pariah, but the members of KUF seem to realize we are humans too :) 

What is on your near horizon?

Because of my health, my plans are never very fixed, but I hope I will be able to publish my Danish novel, "Anna Märklin´s Family Chronicles" in English in the autumn. It is not a cosy mystery, but a quiet, Scandinavian mystery about a woman whose best friend dies unexpectedly. And after that, I intend to finish "The Halloween Murderer" which is a sequel to "The Cosy Knave". 

Where can we find you for more information? 

I do have a website, but as I don´t use it much, the best places to get news about my writings are my facebook writer´s page:  and DJ´s krimiblog (mainly reviews of crime fiction, but occasionally I post news about my books or publish free stories):


  1. Dorte, it's great that you are "a free and happy indie spirit". How would you feel if a publisher approached you now?

  2. Rosen, that is a really good question. If my health was still perfect, they´d have to offer me very good conditions. But as I work part time and struggle with this perpetual fatigue, I sometimes think a contract could be a good thing if it enabled me to spend my precious spare hours writing, and someone else would promote my books. But on the other hand the reality of traditional writers does not seem to be as simple as that any more.

  3. Joo and Dorte, thanks very much for this fine interview. Dorte, you mentioned your preference for reading "short and humourous cosy mysteries" but what would you prefer writing — full-length novels, novellas or short stories? Which is easier, productive, and less taxing on mind and body? Thank you...

  4. Thanks for the chance to get to know Dorte a little bit better.

  5. Hello to you both. Many thanks for a fine interview, it was good to find out one or two things more about you Dorte and was, of course, nice to meet you Joo.

  6. Thank you, Beth and Tracy!

    Prashant: with my current health, it is easier to write cosy novels or short stories than more serious crime novels (which tend to be longer). But in the best of all worlds, I´d love to write psychological mysteries, taking the time to make my characters come alive and show why the crimes were committed and how devastating the consequences can be for the victims and their families. That is what I have tried to do in my Danish novel.

  7. Joo - Thank you for hosting one of my favourite blogger/authors :-).

    Dorte - How nice to see you here :-). You know, it's interesting you would mention how much of you is in your work. I think authors can't help some of themselves seeping into their work. It's almost inevitable as writing is a creative process. Folks, do read Dorte's work. It's wonderful! I know. I've read it and recommend it highly.

  8. I love to read all things Dorte! As one of her greatest supporters, it is a pleasure to get to know her better and better. Her Cosy mysteries are an absolute favorite of mine, and I can't wait for Halloween, now! There goes my summer.

  9. Dorte, thank you for replying. I hope to read your mysteries soon.

  10. Prashant, you´re welcome. And I just hope you are going to like them.

    Margot and Linda: you are too kind, ladies :)

  11. Thank you Joe for the interview with Dorte. More than perfect to have in the "Kindleusersforum", since most of her works are available in ebooks.
    As always, it was such a pleasure to read your replies Dorte. Always very clear and honest with a warm human sense. ☺

  12. Thank you for your support, Poly.

  13. I'm enjoying getting to know Dorte more and more. She's amazing and inspiring! I know I've said this before, but I'm really looking forward to her Anna Marklin novel. Plus, I roared with laughter re the second opinion. :)

  14. Thank you, Joanne. This is one of the funniest interviews I have participated in :)