Today I am delighted to welcome the author of the Varg Veum series of crime novels, Gunnar Staalson, to my blog. Gunnar’s books are already best sellers in his native Norway. Thanks to Orenda Books they are now being made available in English. The latest to be translated is titled ‘When Roses Never Die’. You may find my thoughts on it here. In this guest post Gunnar explains where the title of the book came from, and tells us a little about his inspiration for the plot.
I have always been fascinated by the type of religious songs you might hear in what is called a ‘bedehus’ in Norway: in English a chapel or a meeting house, where believers meet to celebrate their faith in God.
These are songs that take a simple, almost childish view of life and, perhaps more importantly, of the after-life – that place beyond the pearly gates, in a city ‘where the roses never fade’, which is, in fact, the English title of this type of song – of which I am so fond. You can find this song on YouTube and listen to it there. In Norwegian the title is ‘Der hvor roser aldri dør’ – ‘Where Roses Never Die’; and my wonderful English translator, Don Bartlett, chose this direct translation of the Norwegian for the title of my latest book published in English, instead of the more popular ‘Where the Roses Never Fade’. Whichever title you choose, the content is the same: for the people left behind there is comfort to be found in the belief that close relatives who are dead have simply travelled to another and much happier world; a place where the roses neither fade nor die. In the case of my latest Varg Veum thriller, it can also refer to what lies beneath the roses, but you’ll find out more about that when you read the book.
For me, this was the perfect title for a crime novel that was inspired by two real Norwegian crime cases, in which two very young girls – we know them both by name –disappeared without trace. Neither has ever been found, and what happened to them is known to no one except – if he still lives – the man (and it is most likely a man) who took them away
As a parent and grandparent I can’t think of a more cruel fate than this: a little child disappears, and, despite the efforts of the police and however much the media talks about it, you never get the answer to the question: What happened to our beloved child?
In Where Roses Never Die a woman comes to Varg Veum’s office and presents him with exactly this question. Her daughter, Mette, a three-year-old girl, disappeared from the sandpit outside her home almost twenty-five years earlier. Now, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, and the killer – if there is one – will go free, she asks Varg to make a last attempt to find out what happened to her little daughter. Varg is himself full of sorrow, and has for the previous three years, for his own reasons, drunk far too much of his favoured aquavit, so he is not sure if he is able to help this woman. Or perhaps even himself.
However, he takes on the mission, and it does not take him long to find out that there some dark secrets hidden behind the story of Mette’s disappearance. In fact,he has to dig deeper than the local sandpit to find answers.
Will he uncover the truth? You have to read the book to find the answer to that question. And while you are reading, why not listen to that beautiful song, ‘Where the Roses Never Fade’ in the background?
This post is part of the Where Roses Never Die Blog Tour. Do check out the other posts, detailed below.
‘Where Roses Never Die’ is published by Orenda Books and is available to buy now.