Q+A with Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren, Authors of the Engelsfors Trilogy

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

We have authors Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren here on the blog today! They wrote the Swedish sensation, the Engelsfors Trilogy. The series was originally published in Sweden (it's so huge that it will soon be adapted into a movie) but it has made it's way across the pond. The first two books, The Circle and Fire are already out and available in your favorite bookstore or at your local library.

Fire (book 2) recently came out though and to celebrate we have the authors answering some of our burning questions.

But first here's the description of Fire.

Praised by Lev Grossman as "stunning, …raw, real, smart, very thrilling and very, very wicked,” The Circle, the first book in the internationally bestselling Engelsfors Trilogy, introduced a group of high school girls with special powers who became the Chosen Ones. As book two, Fire, begins, Minoo, Vanessa, Linnéa, Anna-Karin and Ida have been struggling with their own demons all summer long. Now school is back in session, and whether they like it or not, the five Chosen Ones must stick together stronger than ever before.

Evil is back in Engelsfors and it threatens to engulf everyone and everything—and only if the five girls accept their strengths and trust each other unconditionally will they have any chance of defeating it.

The second installment of the Engelsfors Trilogy—an international sensation with rights sold in 26 countries—Fire sees the past woven together with the present, the living with the dead, our human world with demonic forces. This spellbinding novel takes the reader on a wild journey in a world where the stakes are higher than life-and-death.
And just in case you're new to the series, here's the description of book 1, The Circle.

On a night after the apparent suicide of high school student Elias Malmgren, a blood-red moon fills the night sky. Minoo wakes up outside her house, still in her pajamas, and is drawn by an invisible force to an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of town. Soon five of her classmates--Vanessa, Linnea, Anna-Karin, Rebecka and Ida--arrive, compelled the same force. A mystical being takes over Ida's body and tells them they are fated to fight an ancient evil that is hunting them. The park is a safe haven; the school, a place of danger. The six are wildly different and definitely not friends…but they are the Chosen Ones.

As the weeks pass, each girl discovers she has a unique magical ability. They begin exploring their powers, but they are not all firmly committed to their mission--to discover the truth about Elias's death. Then a horrible tragedy strikes within the circle. Newly determined to fight the evil forces, they begin to learn magic from The Book of Patterns, an ancient work with a will of its own that reveals different things to different witches.

In this gripping first installment of the Engelsfors Trilogy, a parallel world emerges in which teenage dreams, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, and love collide with flirtation, dangerous forces, and ancient magic. An international sensation with rights sold in 24 countries, The Circle is razor-sharp and remarkable from start to finish.

Add the series to your Goodreads!

We meet a lot of characters in the THE ENGELSFORS TRILOGY. Which ones are your favorite characters to write?
SARA: We don’t have any favorites among the main characters. It was so much fun to tell the story from different perspectives.
MATS: Exactly. If I for instance had written a chapter about Minoo, who is very over-analyzing and "in her head" the whole time, it can be a relief to write Vanessa, who is very smart too, but spontaneous, and deals with problems more emotionally.
SARA: They all have such different journeys that we can't choose one of the Chosen Ones. But Mona Moonbeam, the shady new age-shop owner in town is a favorite among the minor characters.
MATS: Yes! Writing Mona always put us in a good mood. I'm going to start writing my own fan fiction about Monas youth in the 1980s.
SARA: I look forward to reading them.

What inspired Linnéa's personality and interests?
MATS: For me she is sort of based on the sort of friend I wish I would have had. Linnéa is very strong, and fiercely loyal, and she can be really funny, but she doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of life.
SARA: For me Linnéa is very much based on people I’ve met in different situations and also friends’ descriptions of themselves as teenagers. Anime, manga and Japanese culture is really important for many young people in Sweden today, and it felt very natural that Linnéa would be into that.
MATS: We wanted to write about an "alternative" girl who was very creative with her style and sticks to it, even if 99.9% of the town doesn’t understand it at all.
SARA: She is a kick-ass girl, but she’s very human too. It’s hard for her to trust and to show vulnerability which is understandable since she’s been betrayed so many times by people close to her and life in general. She’s got a very tough attitude and she’s quick to judge. But she is also very empathic.

Can you give us a hint of what's in store for the characters (especially the Chosen Ones) in book 3?
MATS: Well, we both really hate spoilers, but we can say that THE KEY starts right were FIRE ended. And we introduce some new characters that we both really loved writing about. Also, it's a really paranoid book. It's a lot about questions of trust - who can you trust? Can you even trust yourself?
SARA: The Swedish edition of The Key is 800+ pages. But I can honestly say there's no filler! We had a lot of storylines to wrap up, and it was probably the hardest thing we've ever done, and the most intense, but also the most fun.
MATS: We finally got to use all the big "guns" that we've been planning for since the beginning!

What is the most exciting thing about having your series translated and published in the US?
MATS: It's a bit like thinking about space. It's too big to even really fathom. I was in Vermont and Maine last year and I saw my book at Barnes & Noble stores! And I did the most embarrassing thing but it felt awesome; I sent a copy to my childhood idol, Stephen King. I don't think he'll read it, but THEORETICALLY he could. And that's exciting!
SARA: Being published at all is a dream come true. Being published in the US is, like Mats says, unbelievable. We have grown up on so much American pop culture, and been inspired by it when creating THE ENGELSFORS TRILOGY, like for example Buffy the Vampire Slayer, My So Called Life, Veronica Mars, Twin Peaks, Curtis Sittenfeld's book Prep, the 90s film The Craft...


Thank you to Mats and Sara for answering our questions. You all can chat with Sara on Twitter and Instagram at @sarabelfgren and visit her on her Tumblr. As for Mats, he's on Twitter and Instagram as @matsstrandberg_ as well as Tumblr. Also, a big thank you to Overlook Press for making this post possible.

Have a wonderful Valentine's everyone and may your sweetheart get you lots of great reads!

Happy reading,

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