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Interview: Madeleine Eskedahl talks about Blood on Vines

Madeleine Eskedahl was born and raised in Sweden on the beautiful island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Living a carefree childhood filled with adventures and surrounded by Viking remnants, her creativity was actively encouraged by her family. Madeleine was a voracious reader from an early age, with a fondness for mystery and convinced she’d become a Private Detective or a Spy when she grew up. Madeleine moved to New Zealand in the early nineties. Now married with two daughters, her family also consists of a trio of West Highland White Terriers-Harry, Archie and Jemma. Madeleine talks to NZ Booklovers about her thriller Blood on Vines, the first instalment in The Matakana Series.

Tell us a little about Blood on Vines.

Blood on Vines is a New Zealand thriller set in Matakana wine country, just north of Auckland.

At Matakana Valley Wines Avery and Lexi are struggling with the stress of running a vineyard, family life and teenage children. Their world takes a sudden and disturbing turn when a grizzly find is discovered beneath their home.

Bill the local cop is looking forward to the end of a busy summer when all hell breaks loose, sending ripples throughout the close knit community.

What inspired you to write this book?

I think I have always wanted to write a thriller series. Having spent time at our family bach in the beautiful Matheson Bay, the story developed over the years. The area’s wonderful diversity of people and fantastic setting has been a huge influence in me writing this book, and ultimately a series.

How important was it for you to set your novel in New Zealand?

It was very important to set it locally. To me, reading about New Zealand people and places is something I really enjoy, and something I think many readers, in other parts of the world do as well. New Zealand is a very special place, and in particular the Matakana area, which is a superb setting for a thriller.

How much does the location impact on the storyline?

The Matakana area with its lush fertile hills, the beautiful sandy beaches, the dense bush as well as the rugged coastline were all huge inspiration and influenced my writing a lot. In fact large parts of the book was written in Matheson Bay.

What research was involved?

One of the most memorable moments was talking to a few of the local police officers, asking them questions about rural policing and seeing how things work in the area. I also had to learn about the wine industry and enjoyed sampling the odd glass of wine in the process.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago, but over lockdown I was able to dedicate the time for it to be completed.

As for writing, I like to get up early, when the rest of the family are still asleep, my brain works best in the morning.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

I’d say, there’s a definite theme of 80’ and 90’s music here, perhaps something from The Eagles say, Hotel California or from Bruce Springsteen, another favourite would be Born to Run.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

I would say, the following;

Bill-Manu Bennett (Spartacus, Arrow & The Hobbit film trilogy)

Annika-Malin Åkerman (Billions, Watchmen, The Heartbreak kid & 27 Dresses)

Avery-Martin Henderson (Virgin River, Grey’s Anatomy & Off The Map)

Lexi-Melanie Lyndskey-(Heavenly Creatures, Two and A Half Men)

Niko-Jason Momoa with a haircut-(Aquaman, Justice League)

What did you enjoy most about writing this novel?

Absolutely the creative freedom of daydreaming and thinking up what was to happen next. I had so much fun.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

The last few books that I have read are The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman, it’s a compelling and heartfelt drama of human behaviour and the tragedy that sometimes comes into our lives. The other really enjoyable book is The Girl In The Mirror by Rose Carlyle, an edge-of your-seat thriller that was absolutely impossible to put down. I’m currently enjoying The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, which is incredibly clever and very entertaining.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I have started writing Rings on Water, book two in the Matakana Series, and am really enjoying being back at the start of a new project.

This new book is set in the middle of the dark and gloomy winter, the area has taken a collective breath as the tourist season has come to an end and things have returned to a slower pace.

Bill is enjoying the quiet days that the off season brings, until a waterlogged body of a small time criminal is found washed up on a nearby beach, setting a series of events in motion.

In the shadows, a sinister dark underbelly is gathering momentum, an out of town gang is making their presence known and they are drawn into the unsavoury world of violence and murder.


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