Secrets and lies

Secrets and lies

October 13, 2020

The Writers Room

Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg tells DQ about writing her first television series, Lyckoviken, in which a police officer is drawn into a murder investigation after returning to her home town.

Tales of forbidden love, betrayal and a murder mystery unfold in a modern soap created by Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg, who writes for television for the first time.

Lyckoviken is set in the fictional town of Hammarvik, where police officer Johanna (Disa Östrand) returns for her mother’s funeral. Johanna plans to stay for just a few days, but when a young woman’s body is found in a car boot at the bottom of the sea, she is drawn into the search for a killer that brings back memories of an unsolved tragedy 18 years earlier.

Matters are complicated by the appearance of Danne (Martin Stenmarck), Johanna’s childhood sweetheart who is now married to her former best friend, Pernilla (Linda Santiago).

The series, which debuts on Nordic streamer Viaplay and Sweden’s TV3 on October 20, is produced by Nordisk Film & TV in coproduction with Film i Väst. Läckberg writes with Lovisa Löwhagen and Jessika Jankert, with Peter Lindmark, Åsa Kalmér and Andreas Lindergård directing. Eccho Rights distributes the series under the title Hammarvik.

Here, Läckberg tells DQ about moving into television and why the series will appeal to fans of Nordic noir.

Camilla Läckberg

What are the origins of the project?
Growing up, I loved all kinds of soap operas. But for the past 15 years, they have not been made in Sweden. I missed really good soap operas, so I decided to make one myself.

What kind of town is Hammarvik?
Hammarvik is a very typical Swedish small town. There are so many towns like it in Sweden.

Who are some of the key characters and how do we follow them through the story?
The main characters are Danne and Johanna. They have an unfinished love story and are also connected by the disappearance of Danne’s sister, Madeleine, when they were all teenagers.

What themes does the show touch on?
The series gives the opportunity to discuss a lot of themes, such as jealousy, greed, teenage pregnancy, peer pressure and domestic violence.

Why were you drawn to writing for TV for the first time?
I’m an avid fan of watching TV series and movies, and I love to try different styles of storytelling.

What is your writing process, and did you work with a writers room or other writers to write the scripts?
I started by creating the characters, the universe and the big plotlines. After that, we included some excellent screenwriters, but I have been part of the writers room through the entire process.

What were the benefits or disadvantages of writing for TV compared to writing a novel?
When I write my novels, I have more freedom – and I don’t have to consider that a scene may be too expensive, for example. I have learned to stay away from scenes taking place on water, and those that involve children or animals!

Lyckoviken stars Disa Östrand and Martin Stenmarck

How involved have you been throughout the project?
I have been very involved through the whole process. This is a very heartfelt project on my part, and I absolutely adore Hammarvik and its inhabitants.

How did you work with the directors and actors before and during production?
I have worked very closely with the producers and have been fully informed the whole way, including when it came to casting, for example. I have also met with the team and visited the set. I even make a small appearance in the show.

What challenges have you faced?
Having to ‘kill your darlings’ is always a challenge when writing for TV or film – when plotlines and characters have to be omitted. It always hurts, but I have learned what is necessary.

Your novels were previously adapted for The Fjällbacka Murders. What was your experience working on that series and how did it shape your involvement on Hammarvik?
I learned a lot through the adaptions of my Fjällbacka Murders series, an experience that has been extremely useful in creating this drama for television.

The series, set in the fictional town of Hammarvik, has already been renewed for S2

Why do you think global audiences have become such fans of Nordic crime series? Does Hammarvik play to the style of Nordic noir?
I think fans of Nordic noir will love Hammarvik. It’s extremely Swedish/Nordic and there seems to be a huge fascination with our little neck of the woods in the world.

Two seasons of Hammarvik have been commissioned. What can you tell us about where the story leads?
Oh, we have very good things coming in seasons to come. Stay tuned…

Do you plan to write more television, return to books, or both?
I have recently started a production company with Alexander and Baker Karim – Bad Flamingo Studios – and we are currently in production on our first movie, Glacier, starring Lena Endre and Alexander Karim. I am producing the film and have also written the script.

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