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Interview: Madeleine Eskedahl talks about Rings On Water

Madeleine’s first thriller Blood On Vines was released in 2021 and is the first instalment in The Matakana Series. Blood On Vines was on the NZ Bookseller Top 10 list for eight weeks. Madeleine Eskedahl was born in Sweden, and has been living in New Zealand for the last thirty years. She’s married and has two daughters as well as Archie, the family’s West Highland Terrier, and loves to live close to the beach, in a rural community. Madeleine talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Rings On Water.

Rings On Water is the second book in The Matakana Series, and follows on for the best-selling thriller Blood On Vines. The novel’s prologue starts with a narcotics pick up at sea and a man being lost overboard. The story continues on a wintery day when a young woman is found dead at a local beach. Sergeant Bill Granger, the local policeman is called in to investigate. He had hoped for a quiet off-season. Instead, what seems to be a straightforward case of an unfortunate death turns into a complex web of small town secrets and a desire for revenge that will soon place Bill’s family in danger. With Niko Sopoaga, a young south Auckland constable working alongside him, Bill falls into the dark and dangerous world of drug distribution and a hardened motorcycle gang weaking havoc, while they chase a clever killer.

What inspired you to write this book?

From the start I knew where I wanted the characters to go for the next instalment of the series and I wanted to challenge them further by putting them under extreme conditions. Setting the book in a wintery Matakana this time made for a great premise, which appealed to me, as it can be pretty bleak at time. Living right by the beach as the south easterly wind howls across our house, I could picture a clandestine drug pick up in the shipping channel on the horizon.

What research was involved?

I really enjoyed learning as much as I could about boats and in particular amphibious crafts and how they operate. Drugs and the effect of those, as well as the impact they have when supplied to minors in the community was an important part of the research as well, and a very sobering read. Something really interesting that I did was attend a CSI crime scene and finger printing class at Forensic Insight in Auckland. It’s perfect for anyone that’s interested in how these things actually work, as what we see on tv and in movies is often far from reality.

Advancing this thirst for understanding. I recently spent three weeks in the US & Canada where I attended two conferences, Cops & Writers & The Writers Police Academy, both in the state of Wisconsin. We had intensive, and hands on experiences in a range of police disciplines at the technical colleges and police academies in Appleton and Green Bay. As a writer it was incredible to delve into the intricate world of policing, and what really goes on.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I had the first draft written not long after Blood On Vines came out, and then let it sit for a few months while working on other projects. Picking it up again was refreshing and I worked on the early drafts intensely for the next six months, re-writing and developing the depth of the story. I really enjoyed the character development this time, and feel like I still have a lot more to discover about them which is exciting. My day to day routine is generally a few hours of writing, which seems to work well. I don’t do word counts, rather focus on a good quality output of words.

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

This is a tricky question. I think it would have to be something moody, reflecting the time of year that the book is set, while the wet weather and winter storms are bearing down. The perfect accompaniment would be something from Bruce Springsteen, like Born To Run and My Hometown.

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

I think that Cliff Curtis would be perfect for Sergeant Bill Granger and Niko, perhaps a clean cut Jason Momoa.

What did you enjoy most about writing Rings On Water?

I loved how fast the story came together, and this time I felt more comfortable with the characters and how they would behave. I had a lot of fun delving into their personalities and quirky traits. To me they feel like real people.

What did you do to celebrate this book?

Finishing the first draft is always exciting, and to me feels like a huge accomplishment. I’m always eagerly discussing the premise with my family, without giving too many spoilers away. No one reads the book at this early stage, and I’m quite enjoying the fact that I’m the only one privy to the information. We might celebrate with a lovely meal and a nice glass of wine.

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

There are so many to choose from. I really liked The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave. Ashgrove Park by K.V Martins was excellent and so was Jane Harpers latest book The Exiles. Of course The Doctor’s Wife by Fiona Sussman and Nikki Crutchley’s, In Her Blood were also terrific. The most heart-warming novel goes to The Penguin Lessons by Tom Mitchell, which is my absolute favourite for the year.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’ve got a few projects on the go, but I’m currently working on Angels Of Clay, the third book in The Matakana Series which is exciting. I had planned for this to be the last book, however I feel that there’s unfinished business for Sergeant Bill Granger and Constable Falaniko Sopoaga, so watch this space!

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