Lars Kepler would be one of Sweden’s leading crime novelists, except for one little detail: he doesn’t exist. The author of popular detective novel The Hypnotist is actually two people, married couple Alexandra and Alexander Ahndoril, who created Kepler as a way to write together as one voice. When they decided to do a thriller, the Ahndorils looked to Sweden’s most famous mystery novelist, Stieg Larsson. “We were very inspired by him,” says Alexandra. “Sweden has a very long tradition of crime fiction, but this tradition has become a little bit tired and conformistic. Stieg Larsson changed everything. Actually he was what made us think that maybe it’s possible to do something in this genre. We thought, ‘Wow, this is a really different way: exciting, big stories, fantastic characters. We like Stieg Larsson a lot. That’s why we call ourselves Lars Kepler, because Lars is kind of an homage to Larsson.”

A followup to The Hypnotist, The Nightmare, hit bookstores this week. Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook, below.

For more on Lars Kepler, including the story of how their big secret was exposed, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now.

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