Madeleine alumna from Linnaeus University

Alumni story: Madeleine is writing a crime fiction series

Madeleine’s dream is to work full-time as an author, and she has come a long way. Her books have topped Storytel’s list and this autumn she will release her third book in the crime fiction series “Ett fall för Henny Hoff”.

Madeleine has studied both media and communication science and creative writing at Linnaeus University.

“Right now, I’m writing on the crime fiction series ‘Ett fall för Henny Hoff’. As I’m writing for Storytel original, it means that I’m primarily writing for the audiobook format. My books are also published as e-books and printed books. At the time being, I cannot make a living only from my authorship which means that I also have a side job”, Madeleine explains.

Competition gave Madeleine book contract

Madeleine’s career as an author has had some ups and downs. After a number of refusals from publishing houses she took part in a competition where Storytel was looking for their next crime fiction star.

“I ended up in second place but was awarded a book contract anyway. I wrote ‘Mord på slottet’ – the first part in my series about the curious but somewhat insecure crime fiction author Henny Hoff. It was released in May 2021. After that I wrote ‘Mord i fjällen’ – probably the world’s first ever biathlon crime fiction. Currently, I’m writing on book number three in the series – ‘Mord i sinnet’”, she continues.

The three books in Madeleines crime fiction series.

Creates characters that inspire

The books are about the crime fiction author Henny Hoff, a character that Madeleine created to be able to develop it and enjoy it for a longer period of time.

“I was tired of the unreasonably strong women characters that I found in many crime fiction books. I can only talk for myself, but I don’t always feel like a superwoman when I’ve missed sending notes with my kids to school, left home with my sweater inside-out, or told a joke and been met with total silence. I did not want to add to the stress over having to be perfect in every way”, she continues.

In order to challenge Henny, the character Magda was added. Magda is Henny’s running mate and her exact opposite.

“Magda is a police officer who doesn’t care about authorities or regulations, says improper things and sleeps around with beautiful girls. I really enjoy being a little wild when I create my characters, it makes it more fun to follow them. Sometimes, I become surprised myself when I start liking certain characters more than I thought I would”, Madeleine explains.

Curiosity and imagination are important tools in the writing process

She finds the inspiration for her books in different ways. Often, it is her imagination that puts her on the right track.

“I use the phrase ‘to see something as something’, which I think I got from my studies. What I really mean by this is that anything can inspire me. An event that gets my imagination going. It can be something that I see on TV or on social media. Or I think about how something works. Above all, I’m very curious and always wonder what is being said when I’m not there. What takes place in a TV studio between the broadcasts? What do elite athletes who are struggling to make it to the Olympics say to each other? I really don’t know – so I fantasise”, says Madeleine.

Madeleine’s books on Storytel’s top list

Madeleine’s studies at Linnaeus University have been valuable to her in her professional life, both in her writing and in the marketing of her books.

“I would say that my studies opened up a whole new world of ideas to me as I was encouraged to analyse and critically reflect on the world around me. Through the courses in creative writing, I’ve learnt to read text, find strengths and development potential, and to receive feedback. Being able to receive feedback is very valuable so that you ‘can take it’ when you open the documents from your publisher and realise there are more than 1,000 suggestions for improvements”, Madeleine continues.

“My education has also been of great use in the marketing of my books, as much of the responsibility for the marketing rests with me, as the author. I succeeded so well in this that I got both first and second place on Storytel’s total top list”, Madeleine concludes. 

Photograph: Maria Lindberg