The daughter of renowned Danish journalist Leif Blædel and Annegrethe Nissen, an actress whose career includes roles in theater, radio, TV and movies, Sara was surrounded by a constant flow of professional writers and performers visiting the Blædel home. Despite a struggle with dyslexia, books gave Sara a world in which to escape when her introverted nature demanded an exit from the hustle and bustle of life.
Sara tried a number of careers, from a restaurant apprenticeship to graphic design, before she started a publishing company called Sara B, where she published Danish translations of American crime fiction.
Publishing ultimately led Sara to journalism, and she covered a wide range of stories, from criminal trials to the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I. It was during this time—and while skiing in Norway—that Sara started brewing the ideas for her first novel. In 2004 Louise and Camilla were introduced in Grønt Støv (Green Dust), and Sara won the Danish Crime Academy’s debut prize.
Sara’s writing process is intense and she swears, “I am absolutely not fun to be with. And therefore everyone is happiest if I get it over with somewhere else.” That somewhere else is a summer house with huge windows affording a panoramic view, white terrace furniture, and a gas barbecue. In this seemingly tranquil environment, Sara formulates her brutal literary murder mysteries.
Research also plays an important role in Sara’s writing process. She believes that the imagination has its best chance to thrive within the framework of reality. “I work tirelessly to learn all I can in order to create the settings.” So most of the geographical locations that constitute Louise Rick’s universe are imported from the real world. Her apartment is Sara’s old apartment in Copenhagen, and she frequents the same cafés that Sara does.
An essential tool Sara uses for her research and preparation is a large whiteboard she’s named her “killing wall.” The killing wall is home to sketches of the story’s development, giving Sara the visual stimulation that best ignites her creativity. Sara also relies heavily on a host of experts who offer input and feedback on her novels. “I am so fortunate to have good helpers in those areas where I really need factual knowledge—whether in the Homicide Division, Forensics or Forensic Psychology.”
Sara has come full circle from her childhood days of hearing her mother read Agatha Christie aloud. “It brings me peace to know that it all began with crime fiction as a child, and that it is there, after a thousand detours, that I have landed again. As a child I found peace in crime novels, and it is with them that I find peace today. There has been some turbulence along the way, but I wouldn’t have avoided any of it. I wouldn’t have reached the place I have without all of it happening.” And that place Sara has reached includes seven published novels with an eighth on the way. Her novels are published in seventeen countries and appear in fifteen languages, and the film rights have been optioned. Her hard work and determination have branded her the “Queen of Crime” in Denmark.
Today, Sara lives north of Copenhagen with her family. She has always loved animals; she still enjoys horse riding and shares her home with her cat and Golden Retriever. When she isn’t busy committing brutal murders on the page, she is an ambassador with Save the Children and serves on the jury of a documentary film competition.