The best part of being a book editor is working with wonderfully talented people, and I would certainly count Morgan Greene in that category.
So, it was a privilege to be invited to work with Morgan on the next stage in his immensely gripping Jamie Johansson series.
Morgan has written lots of novels, under various names, but he began writing DI Jamie Johansson’s story last year and has already published a trilogy of her early years as a detective sergeant, and has since developed a profound love for crime fiction – as well as this complex heroine. Angel Maker sees Jamie promoted to the role of detective inspector, and Morgan hopes to torment her with many horrifying cases for years to come.
Every angel deserves their wings…
A teenage girl is found dead in the woods, the kill bearing a chilling resemblance to those of the Angel Maker, a serial killer caught two decades ago. But with the old case files missing and doubts swirling about the original investigation, London Met detective Jamie Johansson is drawn back to the icy streets of her home city to help. Her father, one of Stockholm’s most notorious detectives, closed the case when Jamie was just a girl. And her memories hold the only key to unlocking the past and the truth of whether he put the right man behind bars all those years ago.
Jamie will have to confront her own dark childhood, as well as the evil stalking the city if she hopes to crack this case. But with so many secrets buried beneath the frozen earth, will she be able to find the killer before he claims his next victim?
The Angel Maker is back, and a plan twenty years in the making is already in motion.
Angel Maker publishes today and is available now.
Read on for an exclusive interview with the author, Morgan Green.
Morgan, welcome! ANGEL MAKER sees the return of Jamie Johansson, but with a difference. Tell us a little more about it.
Hello! Thank you for having me. Yes, Angel Maker sees Jamie Johansson return to her home city of Stockholm in Sweden to catch the killer that seemingly alluded her father twenty five years earlier.
A notorious serial killer known as the Angel Maker stalked the city in the nineties, but he was caught and imprisoned. Now, he’s died behind bars, but the killings have begun again, throwing into question the original investigation. Jamie’s father was a notorious detective working for the Stockholm Polis before his death, and this was his biggest case. But now that the killer has seemingly come back from the grave, Jamie must dig into the old investigation and retrace his steps, learning not only a lot about the killer, but also about the man her father was. Twists and turns abound and plenty of action, too!
The setting – Sweden – is such a strong presence in the novel – almost a character in itself. Is there a reasoning behind the setting?
I’ve always loved Scandic-noir as a genre, and did my degree in literature and writing with a focus on dystopia. The way that writers use the setting in those kinds of novels to guide the story but also to offer a dark tonal undercurrent always intrigued me.
Snow-bound settings are always fun to mess with. And though perhaps it’s not a conscious thing, when we read a novel set somewhere cold, it unsettles us. Humans aren’t designed for cold weather, so when you introduce that sense of unnaturalness, it adds a layer of depth to the story. A killer who operates in these conditions must be inhuman. It scares us, it makes it feel eery and dark, and as a writer, getting to use and apply that as a device was a really enjoyable experience. It traces back to the literary theory of the ‘uncanny’, which was something I’ve been hoping to put to use for a long time!
Who inspired you to start writing? Have your influences changed since then?
I’ve always wanted to write, I think. I didn’t know anyone who wrote growing up. But my parents were both voracious readers, and we always had crosswords, scrabble, those kinds of word-games around the house. That, paired with my need to be creative, to always be making something, naturally led me here, I think. And I’ve really enjoyed developing this skill. With each person I meet – teachers, other writers, editors, agents, readers especially – they all spur me on to keep writing, and to keep improving, too.
Why did you choose to write crime?
I think we all have to be honest here, as crime writers. It’s because we love getting one over on the reader!
Crime is so complex. And while the detective-murder genre has seen so many pass through its gates, it remains something that draws readers in again and again. So many readers exclusively read crime back-to-back, and as a writer interested in writing all things — I mean, I’ve already written in sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, romance — crime was going to come around eventually. And now that it has, I’ve found a new love for it that I didn’t realise was there!
Crime readers are passionate, too, and getting to tap into that readership and have such enthusiastic readers is something you can’t help but find addictive.
What is the biggest challenge you faced when writing your first novel? How did you overcome it? And now you’ve got a few under your belt, do you still face the same challenges?
Oh, for sure it was the credibility! One thing you’ll see over and over again with crime writers is that they either have direct experience in the police/forensics/psychology, or they spent a lot of time researching and being advised.
Coming to the genre as a young author without that guiding hand or experience made it a big hurdle to clear. And one that I’ll admit I fell over a little. A lot of readers picked up on the inaccuracies in my first novel when it came to procedure and terminology. And I thank them for that. Readers need to hold writers to account! But that was down to me and my inexperience — not knowing the difference between a police procedural and a crime thriller. I was telling people it was the former, and writing the latter.
I learned my lesson, though. Which is, simply, play to your strengths. My writing is strongest during those sweeping set pieces, the action scenes, the fast, heart-pumping bits. I may not know everything about procedure, so now I keep that light and focus on the enjoyable parts for the readers. There are many writers far better at the procedural and reality-side of crime than me. And I’m happy to colour inside my lines from now on!
Do you like to plan the action of your novels or do you just let them write themselves?
I don’t decide who the killer is until the end. Because if I don’t know, how can the reader? Okay, maybe there’s a little planning involved, but I like to rough out a very vague concept and plot, get my characters all fleshed out, and then I tend to plan just a few chapters ahead at a time, write a little, review, reassess, plan some more. This lets me keep things organic and flowing, hopefully. This way, I can pick the pace up if things get slow, I can move scenes around, mess with the plot, and generally adapt to obstacles as they crop up.
That may sound weird as you’re the one in control of it all, but the writing takes on a mind of its own sometimes! Honestly!
DI Jamie is a police officer who likes to do things a little differently. Was it difficult getting the details right of the Swedish police force?
I wanted to make Jamie distinct from other detectives, to keep the novels feeling new. The Swedish transplant was a big part of that. I did a lot of looking into the way that the Swedish police works before starting, and even reached out to them for some advice. I don’t think they really understood what I was asking or why, but they were still helpful.
I also work with a Swedish company so was lucky to have lots of native Swedes to advise on the translations, settings, descriptions, and everything else. And they tell me it feels pretty darn Swedish! So either they were good advisors, or they’re just being really nice. I’m not sure if I want to know which.
The novel ends on a bit of a question mark – no spoilers here! Is there more in store for DI Jamie Johansson and the SPA?
Oh yes! The story concludes satisfactorily, but I remember speaking to a reader who said of their favourite crime author that they always begin the next story at the end of the last one, dropping a huge bomb, which makes the reader say, Oh, well now I have to read the next one! And they inevitably go right out and pre-order it.
So I shamelessly stole that. I like to have my novels linked by sub-plots. So Jamie will be doing a whole new case in book two, but will also be looking into some other… things. Oh gosh, it’s tough to not talk about it. But yeah, I mean, if you read Angel Maker and get to the end, you’ll know what I’m talking about!
The next book is a bit of a departure from Sweden again, and takes place on a remote oil platform in the freezing Norwegian Sea. There’s a body, a set list of suspects, and a whole lot of blood, betrayal, and barbarism! A cornered killer is the most dangerous kind. And on the oil platform there’s nowhere for them — or Jamie — to run… Dun dun dun! It’s called Rising Tide, and there’s lots more information on it at the back of Angel Maker and on Amazon if anyone wants to check it out. I want each book to be easy to pick up for first time readers, so if you think that sounds like fun, check it out!
So if you haven’t read the previous series, would you say a brand new reader could start with this book, or should they start with the Johansson trilogy when she’s a detective sergeant?
I think, looking back, starting with Angel Maker is the way to go! I wrote it with new readers in mind. So jumping right in with this one will be a great way to meet Jamie. And then if you like her, you can go back and check out the prequels to keep you busy until Rising Tide drops!
The Advanced Readers I have, none of them read the prequels, and they’ve been really positive about the book. So I’d definitely recommend heading straight to Sweden for your first taste of Jamie Johansson.
What are your desert-island reads?
My favourite book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s such a wonderful book and I often go back to it just to be reeducated on how to write.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a routine? A favourite place to write? Etc.
As for my process, it’s semi-organic, semi-planned. I have word count goals every day. I hate writers’ block, and don’t subscribe to it. Hemingway said ‘Write drunk, edit sober’. But I prefer the write-blocked, edit-inspired methodology. Get words down, clear that writing blockage, and just keep pushing on. Then, chop out all the bumf in the editing stages. So yeah, my process is throw everything in my brain at the page, and then take a hatchet to it the next day! As for my favourite place to write. I don’t have one! I stay chained to my desk all day and write from here surrounded by piles of books and notepads and old typewriters. It’s a safe little wordy nook that serves its purpose!
Do you have any writing tips to share?
Ah, now then. Tough question. I think there are three things I wish I could have told myself ten years ago – but don’t worry, they are short! First – never think you’re as good as you can be. Writing is a skill and practice makes you better. There is no perfect. So don’t get hung up on one thing. Just write, finish something, keep writing, finish the next thing. And again. And again. Forever.
Secondly – write the slow bits fast and the fast bits slow. I think I nicked that one from Lee Child. But it plays into the third one – which is mine.
Your exposition and description isn’t as good as you think it is. Less is more. Keep the plot moving. Don’t stagnate!
Also most important question. Favourite writing snack!
Bourbons. Enough said.
Angel Maker publishes today and is available now, along with the rest of the Jamie Johansson series.
If this has whet your appetite to delve into the page of this icy-cool Scandi Noir, dripping with tension and suspense, read below for an extract of Angel Maker that will have you chilled to the bone, and utterly gripped.
They were waved in at the side of the road, a two-lane that connected Stockholm with a small outlying town called Vallentuna, and pulled to a halt in front of a police officer. He had a baton and was directing traffic to keep moving. To not slow down and gawp at the procession of police vehicles that had carved deep, muddy welts into the verge with their tyres.
Wiik clicked the engine off and rubbed his eyes in the driver’s seat. Jamie wondered how many times he’d been to this scene in the last two days.
It was nearly thirty-six hours since the body had been discovered.
Usually, they would have cleared it long before, but the cold air was keeping everything preserved.
Jamie remembered walking through her father’s study at fourteen, stepping lightly not to wake him as he lay asleep on the sofa, clutching an empty whisky bottle. Snoring. He always snored so loudly.
She had looked at each of the photos on his wall in turn. All seven girls, all posed.
She swallowed, remembering how frightened she had been.
They were all around her age. Maybe a little older. But girls. Like her.
‘Ready?’ Wiik asked.
Jamie nodded, not trusting her voice, and climbed out the car and her memories.
The cold grabbed at her cheeks and she screwed her eyes up, staring into the darkened sky, the swollen underbelly of the clouds hanging still above them. On her right, the birch trees swayed in the wind, a snowy bank letting down into their shadow. On her left, the road stretched away, wet and shimmering in the flashing blue lights coming off a patrol car in the middle of the pack.
Jamie pulled her peacoat tighter around her shoulders and waited for Wiik to walk around the bonnet and head down into the forest.
He judged the slope with careful confidence, made little steps, and then lurched forward so as not to slip.
Jamie followed, crunching through the snow at the side of the muddy bank. She was tired and didn’t trust her footing.
The sound of the road died behind them as they reached the interior of the woods, their breath close in their ears. Wiik strode quickly, following the thin and twisted line of blue-and-white police tape. It bounced from trunk to trunk, guiding them deeper, until the flashing blues were eaten by the trees.
Jamie swallowed, keeping her fists balled in her pockets and her eyes on Wiik’s broad shoulders. The only sound was their footsteps cracking through the frost underfoot and squelching into the mud beneath.
She was surprised he hadn’t put up more of a fight before bringing her here. Maybe her DCI had told him what she was like when she got the scent of a case. Maybe Wiik really didn’t expect to find much in her father’s house. Or maybe he just read that look on her face and knew that forcing her to go inside would have set the investigation back.
He seemed the pragmatic type.
Either way, Jamie was glad she was here and not there.
As terrible as that was.
Wiik slowed ahead, and Jamie drew up at his shoulder, squinting at the sudden onslaught of light.
In front of them, plastic sheeting had been stapled to trees. It spanned the gaps roughly, bunching on the snow, creating a shield all around to protect the scene from onlookers.
Inside, Jamie could see floodlights burning, the translucent sheets glowing against the inky backdrop of the forest.
‘Ready?’ Wiik asked. A vertical slit cut in the sheet in front of him billowed softly.
The thickness of the forest had culled the wind here, but the tops still swayed high above, groaning gently in the winter silence.
Jamie nodded, pushing her hands deeper into her pockets, and stepped through.
Angel Maker publishes today and is available now, along with the earlier titles in the Jamie Johansson series.
About Morgan Greene
Morgan grew up in South Wales, and have always loved writing. He spent his childhood living on his parents’ farm, which inspired a deep and lasting love of nature and the wilderness. Always having been interested in creating, and writing has allowed him to explore that outlet. He studied writing and English at both college and university, and received my BA in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2019. During his degree, he focused on narrative theory in dystopian literature, which taught him a lot about both writing and the way that novels are constructed and composed.
Morgan lives with his partner and very, very naughty Collie. His partner is very supportive of his writing, the dog, less so and would prefer Morgan spent his time playing tug of war, rather than writing! They hope to immigrate to Canada in the near future, and see a little more of the world. The day to day consists mostly of non-fiction as opposed to fiction, as Morgan’s 9–5 is g as a copywriter for a winter sports apparel company, but he also I also runs a literary company that organises competitions and opportunities to aspiring writers, helping them connect with agents and find representation.