Thursday, 27 December 2012

Authors Spotlight - Maria Hammarblad talks about finding inspiration

The holidays are a time for sharing, so today I will share a secret. Well, I guess it won't be a secret any longer after revealing it here on the blog, but anyway...

I wrote the first draft of Undercover watching a Canadian TV show called Cra$h and Burn. The main character is called Jimmy Burn, and he works with insurance. When something goes wrong, he comes in to clean up the mess. He's stuck between an inner desire to do what's right for the accident victims, and management's demands that he give out as little money as humanly possible. His own past isn't exactly clean, and he also struggles with combining his sordid history with a wholesome girlfriend and her very enthusiastic family. It's a funny show. I don't think it was intended to be a comedy, but I had many laugh out loud moments when watching.

Anyway, the show also features a lot of crashed cars, and a hilarious side story about a gang of Russians making a living on a body shop and fake accidents. I do think they give Jimmy Burn some fresh gray hairs as the cars are stolen over and over again. As time goes by, they expand their insurance fraud business into accidents and start a clinic in an old strip club.

Canadian-Croatian actor Steve Basic plays the head of the Russian gang. He's one of my favorite TV and movie actors, and in this show he goes around saying, "Make it stolen" with a fake Russian accent to die for. When I first wrote Alexei in Undercover, Mr Bacic's mobster became his voice. This is years ago, and every time I look at the manuscript I still read Alexei's dialogue in that voice in my head. I don’t think there are any other similarities between the characters – they certainly don’t use the language in the same way – but the voice gets me every time.


Jenny cupped her hands around the warm mug. She should say something, but what? If she opened her mouth, something stupid might come out, like, "Nice weather," or, "What's the weather like in Russia?"

Alex's eyes glittered. "You have good coffee."

"Yeah, it's not bad. Mark usually makes a pot in the morning. He really likes coffee. So, what's the weather like where you come from?"

There it was, the stupid weather. Great for stalling a customer on the phone, but right now, not so much. Why couldn't she talk like a normal person instead of going from mute to babbling?

Alex chuckled, "Cold, colder, cold, really hot, and back to cold."


Book trailer link:

Review snippets:

"This book was riveting and just when you are sure you know what to expect, Hammarblad completely takes you by surprise with an incredible finale. Amazingly fun and enjoyable" -- Mrs. Michael, reader

"You easily connect with the characters and feel the tension of their various situations - You will be guessing at the outcome, which is very original! Well worth reading!" -- Robin Olsson, reader

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