‟Imagine the screams of 700 men and boys being burnt inside a mosque. Imagine the cries and despair of 700 men, women and children as they drown in the Mediterranean. And imagine the silence afterwards, when it is too late to get out of the burning building and the bodies have stopped to fight in the waves.
My writing was born from this silence. It was born out of frustration and anger, but also from my need to tell the stories that we have forgotten, or choose not to see. For many years I was a successful journalist at one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. I reported on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and about the growing xenophobia in Europe, about political disasters and a society where neo-fascism is spreading. But, much like my character Jonathan Sandler in my debut novel, I felt a frustration over the limitations of a news article. Brevity is required and there is always a restriction of the number of words you can use. You are always running for the next story, and it is rare or unheard of that you have the time to stop and listen to the silence that follows the screams.
My debut novel is a mix of fiction and fact: 100 year-old letters about war crimes and abuse, testimonies from contemporary refugees and official records about human tragedies. It is an attempt to see the bigger picture, but also a way to depict our guilt and our denial. In the thriller genre I find the possibility to ask questions that would be impossible to ask in the real world. Fiction gives me the opportunity to explore political conspiracies and concealed plots that affect my characters more than anyone can imagine. It is this interception, where fiction meets reality, which makes it fun to write.”
Tobias Olsson (b. 1977) worked for the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet for many years, but is now a freelance reporter. In 2010, he was nominated to Sweden´s most prestigious journalism award, Stora journalistpriset. He has also won the Schibsted Journalism Awards and been awarded by The Swedish Association of Investigative Journalism for his reporting. From The Same Blood is the first in a series of books about Jonathan Sandler.