A learning process

The path of being a writer is quite often not a straight road. Add to the fact of being an indie self-published writer and you can take away any cushioning that you may recieve from an agent or publishing house.

We set off on this road a few years ago (although we have been writing a lot longer than this) and had our book as a goal. But, since going through this process we have seen firsthand how publishing a book isn’t just about the book, it’s the whole process around it.

Being fortunate enough to being able to get together a 30 strong group of book bloggers for our blog tour meant we were also then fortunate enough to get a real insight into what we needed to do to make our book better, it’s as simple as that. But what isn’t simple is then making the decisions needed afterwards.

The book bloggers came back and told us that they loved the storyline, the character development and the atmosphere created but please please put it through a good edit!

I’ve admired people before who have put on an event, made a film or ‘given something a go’ only for there to be some critique. Would they fold? Walk away? Or would they fight and move forward.

This is the first time I’ve really had to think about this and make the decision. But, I’m so glad we did! How could we leave a great storyline out there with an edit that didn’t do it justice. Either we are writers or we are not!

So, we have for the past few months been working with an amazing proofreader/editor and ended up with something we are so proud of!

The Proof Professor, Matt Rance has been our saviour. What this man doesn’t know about the English language simply isn’t worth knowing…. so thank you!

And here it is….. ‘A Presence of Absence’ version 2.

Same story, same atmosphere, same characters but with a fantastic edit.

Researching this over the past couple of months has made me realise that this happens time and time again and to authors who are already signed but sometimes people choose to shy away from it and hope the second book will rectify the first but we choose the other option….. to finish off what we started!



A Presence of Absence Excerpt #1

The priest approached the pulpit and began to recite words from the bible. Simon closed his eyes and cursed, louder than intended judging from the cold glances that had been shot his way.

“Can you please not do this now? Mum would have…” Sanne whispered, cutting off her sentence when she realised this was the first time her mother had been spoken about in the past tense.

“Don’t tell me what she would’ve wanted” Simon growled, feeling more sets of eyes casting themselves over towards the grieving family. Simon left the cathedral, causing the floorboards to creak and the attention to drift from the priest to himself. He left in a hurry, hearing Sanne and her husband Michael following close by. His and Sanne’s relationship had always been one of protocol and order. When to speak with emotion, and when to speak with just words. The latter was the usual path taken and Simon had often wondered, even discussed with Vibeke, whether this came from his career in the police force or his own nurtured personality which fed off self-righteousness. The right track. The right actions. The right conclusions. They brought calm with them of the knowing. Now he didn’t know anything anymore.

He had always been regarded as someone who hid emotion. Even when the most gruesome cases were thrust in front of him, he always remained pragmatic and reacted with a level head, especially, within the first few hours of a case, and he was known for putting on a front as to not worry his team, even when they knew he hadn’t eaten or slept for 24 hours or had time to go home and reconnect with his family.

Everyone saw him as a cold-faced detective who used poor jokes to hide his grief. But the lines were blurred between work and home and he sometimes treated his children like one of his officers and on most occasions led from the front, leaving his wife at the back, nurturing and guiding the children. His son Thomas seemed to have thrived on this type of upbringing and looked to Simon as his role model, even though he had chosen insurance as a career. He now was working his way through the ranks at a quick pace: he had the strengths and morals of a detective, Simon always thought. Sanne, however, took the alternate route and pushed her father to his limits growing up. She had gone down the route of homemaker after many years before, going off the rails, and found a husband named Michael who had a 9-5 job pushing a pen, also in insurance in the city, so “he would be home for his children to tuck up in bed,” Sanne had shouted a few times, when she felt it necessary to hurt her father.

Simon was good at pretending and this had stood him in good stead when the pretence relied upon his acting being fond of this pencil-pusher his daughter had chosen to not only spend her life with but also bring two children into the mix of this storybook life which Simon felt would one day bring a not so happy ending.

But Sanne, he realised, felt it her duty now her mother was gone to take the role of someone who gave reassurance, guidance and motivation to her father and to see him through these dark days so he could suddenly miraculously come out from the depths of despair. She had no doubt been reading her many American self-help books and listened with intent to the gurus who seemed to be flooding the market to find the answer: to bring her dad back. She couldn’t bring her mother back. So she was starting from a point of failure in Simon’s eyes and had nowhere to go. This game of pretence would go on until Sanne was comfortable enough within her own lies to tell herself that her father was fine and on the right track. He would help her along if it gave him some peace with his own thoughts of Vibeke.

Out in the hallway, Simon fought back the tears as he read the flyers pinned to the message board. Alcoholics Anonymous, drug addict support groups, cancer survivor support groups, all the groups were there. He looked over to the one for those dealing with grief but turned away again immediately. He had never felt so alone.

Support the novel on Indiegogo

Preorder the novel online

Our funding page is live!

As a writer, one of the most rewarding outcomes you can receive is for people to read your words! Because your words are your thoughts, your ideas, your talent and more often than not, your blood, sweat and tears.

But, of course, for this to happen, in reality as a writer, you have to get those words out there and have your work published.

And that is what we are trying to do!

We want to self publish The Odense Series and for this to happen we have put ourselves forward and in the hands of possible readers and launched a funding page via Indiegogo.

If you have the time, the support or even just the curiosity then please head over to it and check us and our campaign out…..even just spreading the word would be a huge help to us!

Sarah Surgey & Emma Vestrheim

Indiegogo funding page


When I tell people that I’m a crime writer, the expression on their face tells me what they are thinking! ‘She must be quite a dark, tortured soul to want to write about crime’

Haha……that couldn’t be further from the truth and it always gives me an opportunity to relay my analysis on them!

I have interviewed quite a few Crime writers over the last couple of years and some of the most intensely talented writers, whose books have had me gripped from the first page are Icelandic.

Now, Iceland is a country with a relatively low crime history, yet we are seeing more and more crime writers coming out of there.

Once when interviewing Icelandic novelist Sólveig Pálsdóttir, I asked that very question for Nordic Style Mag….

“Crime is relatively low in Iceland, does this change the type of crimes that you want write about?

Yes, we are very fortunate to have such a low crime rate in Iceland. I‘m not really interested in crime as such but more in human nature, and that is above all what my books are about. What makes a person into who he or she is? And what event starts that development?

I also love to create tension and plots that rely on people who could be your next door neighbours. I put a lot of work into character development and use my experience as an actress a lot with that.”

And I think this sums it up, it is more about human nature which is sometimes seen at it’s most extreme (making it totally attractive for a writer to explore) when the person is thrown into a life changing moment at the hands of crime.

So, we aren’t nutty or crazy,  just interested, interested in how humans behave and how the crossing of our paths can sometimes lead fate to behave in a cruel manner.

This is what we explore in our crime novels and we hope this is part of the reason you will enjoy them.

Sarah Surgey & Emma Vestrheim

When two worlds collide

We have blended together two areas from the Crime genre; Britcrime and NordicNoir.

Was this intentional?

Well no, not really! We came up with our main protagonist and decided that he was to be a middle aged British detective who would serve through our series with some strong shoulders and a few demons but with his morals in tack. We wanted to then pair him up with another detective who would be in his shadow but, who we think our readers would warm to.  Thinking about where we could find such a guy we started to wonder if maybe a cultural or language difference would be a nice hole between the two of them.

A bit of mis-communication, diplomatic errors and a few colloquial differences, we thought, would be a nice trend to run through the book.

And so the friendship, partnership and duo between Simon Weller, British detective from the City of London and Jonas Norgaard, local policeman from the countryside of Fyn was created…..and from here we started to spider out, creating other characters to work alongside them, scenarios they might face and of course the murder spree to tangle in between all of this.

Both of us have been writing about nordic culture and the arts within these regions for a few years now and with this knowledge and a personal interest and love of some great British crime authors, we realised that the two could blend seamlessly together, not forced but in a natural way.

Britcrime and Nordicnoir run quite parallel as they are both two very gritty but articulated crime genres which feature quite heavily on its backdrop of sparse, grey, sometimes desolate surroundings.

The crime changed, some characters stayed, some left, the settings moved around as did the mode of killing but in the end we have ended up with something we are both proud of.


Sarah Surgey & Emma Vestrheim 

A Presence of Absence

Hello! and welcome to the beginning of The Odense Series self publishing campaign.

We wanted to start by saying thank you, because if you are reading this then you have already taken a small interest in what we are about and the journey that we are on! And as any writer will tell you, to just have your words read, is gratitude enough!

We are going to be taking you with us through the process of trying to publish our series of books and welcome your input, ideas and comments.

Today we are focusing on the first book in The Odense SeriesA Presence of Absence.

This is a gritty crime fiction which sees a London Detective head over to his dead wife’s native Denmark and work with a local Danish detective to try and solve a murder case in Odense.

Although a solid crime book it also deals with the often unspoken fall out from grief within a family and the ripple affect this has on everyone and the dynamics. Those that are left behind have the incredibly hard journey of living with a very obvious presence of absence from their loved one.

“Emotional pain is an invisible ailment which can be covered up by the subtle upward turn of the mouth and kept silent by positive sentences. But it is a tangible hurt that finds its way to every part of the body and mind, which rears itself with the sunrise and hangs on throughout the day, refusing to be side tracked. Yet people expect someone who has it embedded in them to just shake it off and leave it lying there. They are the people who had never experienced the intense feeling of loss. It is often looked upon to be treated like a physical problem, solved with medicine, but Simon knew this was often purely a placebo to comfort the outsider looking in”. Living with A Presence of Absence.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an intriguing series if we didn’t have lies and deceit below the surface of the grief and a few family secrets. Nordic Noir meets Brit crime!

Thank you for joining us and we look forward to sharing with you our series.

Sarah Surgey & Emma Vestrheim