Whom am I allowed to kill?

The annual book flood is upon us and crime fiction as usually topping the bestseller lists. Two of our prominent female crime writers, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Jónína Leósdóttir, are lesbians and GayIceland was curious to know if that is a crucial factor in their writing. We decide to meet to discuss this question in the café of the National Museum, the perfect setting for the perfect crime.

I think it‘s a feminine worry, that you, as part of the female race, are responsible for not giving readers wrong ideas,“ says Jónína.

Jónína is late. When she arrives – red lipstick in place, cappuccino in hand – she looks at Lilja – who is telling me a joke – almost in despair. “How can you always be so cheerful? These are no times to be cheerful in.“ She sits, lets out a sigh and confesses that she has not slept all night worrying about the state of the world and the presidential elections in the USA which take place on the day of the interview. This dramatic entrance of course leads to discussion about the state of the world and the looming horrors in every corner. But are not crime writers contributing to the distribution of despair?

“Pff,“ Lilja laughs. “Murders and torture are fun, not despair. They cheer people up.“

Jónína is awaiting the second book in here crime series about Edda, the clever pensionist who refuses to sit quietly and wait for death and gets entangled in solving crimes, by accident of course. Lilja‘s second book about the lesbian pair Sonja and Agla, who are not so much solving crimes as committing them, is already out and climbing the bestseller charts. Why did they decide to make crimes their topic in their novels?

“It was kind of an accident,“ Jónína says. “I was writing a young adult book about depression and the danger of young people committing suicide and I had been searching for ten years for the right way to tell that story. Finally I came to the conclusion that it had to be a suspense novel, to grab the attention of the youngsters. I also knew that it had to be told in a comic way, even if the subject was dark, I could not write without using humor, and when I found this way to convey what I wanted to say the story clicked immediately. That‘s how I started writing mysteries.“

“Ian Rankin, the famous Scottish author, once said that women write extremely graphic crime novels and that the reason for that was … that most of them were man hating lesbians who enjoyed writing about torturing and killing men.“

“All my books are crime fiction,“ Lilja says. „I started writing the first one when a publisher advertised for crime stories and I thought ´why not´. That book was published and there was no turning back after that.“

Many of the most revered crime writers in history are women, why do Lilja og Jónína think that‘s the case? Are women more vicious than men?

“They write differently about crimes,“ Jónína says. “They are seldom writing about gunfights and car chases, the emphasis tends to be on the characters and their psychological problems.“

“I‘m actually writing action thrillers,“ Lilja says and pretends to be offended. “But it‘s an interesting question; why do so many women write crime fiction? Ian Rankin, the famous Scottish author, once said that women write extremely graphic crime novels and that the reason for that was, in his opinion that most of them were man hating lesbians who enjoyed writing about torturing and killing men. Val McDermid answered him and was not pleased with his mansplaining. She is a lesbian who writes graphic torture scenes, as a matter of fact, but that is not the norm in women‘s crime fiction. Women write all kinds of crime stories, obviously, and the victims are not exclusively men – far from it – so I don‘t know how Rankin could come to this conclusion.“


mynd3bokacoverlilja-copy

I do not contradict Lilja on this point but it is a bit noteworthy that in the small community of Icelandic crime writers, where only five women are prominent, there are two lesbians, Lilja and Jónína, does that tell us something?

“OMG! Maybe Ian is right,“ Lilja deadpans. “Maybe we lesbians are full of murderous rage! Of course in the history of literature and movies there is a lot of murderous lesbians, many of them bloodsucking vampires, so maybe we are trying to work against those prejudice – unconsciously.“

“It‘s such a pressure having to think about writing from this perspective,“ Jónína says. “Most writers are conscious of the responsibility they have to not present women as victims all the time, but being lesbian we have to take just as good care not to kill or torture men – that would be interpreted as man hating in our case – so we are left with the question: whom am I allowed to kill?“

“The trend in crime fiction these days is making children the victims,“ Lilja says. “The torture porn is declining, it‘s not exciting to torture women any more, so the emphasis has shifted to kids as victims in crime fiction. It‘s connected to the increased discussion of children as victims and all kinds of abuse in real life and it‘s a powerful tool in crime stories as almost every grown up person feels protective of children and get filled with horror at reading about them being abused.“

Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Being a lesbian has been a big issue in my life and been a deciding factor in almost everything I‘ve done,“ says Lilja.

“I honestly think women writers are more worried about how they describe bad things happening to their characters,“ Jónína says. “I worry about not coming across as enough of a feminist if I let bad things happen to my female characters, for example.“

“You‘re far too decent and compassionate,“ Lilja interrupts and Jónína concedes, laughing. But I think we are on to something here; is it not frustrating and restricting for a writer to be always trying to be pc enough?

“I usually don‘t think about this while I‘m writing,“ Jónína explains. “Then I‘m just writing away. It‘s after the books are published that I start to worry what people think. I think it‘s a feminine worry, that you, as part of the female race, are responsible for not giving readers wrong ideas.“

“I know what you mean,“ Lilja says. “I would never make a queer character in my stories into some nasty, boring stereotype. I‘ve had enough of that kind of queer characters in books by other people. It‘s part of my responsibility as a queer writer to try to break these stereotypes and present queer characters as real people – like everyone else.“

“Dear Lord,“ Jónína sighs. “Now you‘ve got me worried about Victor, one of the gay characters in my novel. He might be read as a stereotypical gay person. I even have him knitting a sweater!“

“See!“ Lilja teases again. “You are obviously full of prejudice against gay people!“

“I have to let him do something really macho in the next book,“ Jónína exclaims. “This is a serious oversight.“

“I think queer writers feel the pressure of the demand for pc presentations of queer characters even more acutely than other writers … it is very frustrating that everyone and their grandmas have opinions on what kind of stories you are allowed to tell.“

All joking aside, do they feel it is important to represent queer people in their books? Is that a mission?

“I think queer writers feel the pressure of the demand for pc presentations of queer characters even more acutely than other writers,“ Lilja answers. “One does not want to be making more of these horrible stereotypes, there is far too much of them in literature. I want to create queer characters that I would have wanted to read about when I was younger. But then again it is very frustrating that everyone and their grandmas have opinions on what kind of stories you are allowed to tell. The first right of the writer should be to be able to write the stories he or she wants to tell. And I admit that it is a tricky business to write about our life as it is but at the same time be conscious of not feeding the prejudice against us.“

“It does not bother me that much,“ Jónína says. „I‘ve written five stories for young adults and there you have to be very conscious of your responsibility not to put wrong ideas in the head of the youngsters. So I‘m used to having to think a lot about how I‘m saying things and representing characters. You are free of that in fiction for adults.“

But how much does being a lesbian matter to them as writers? Does it matter at all?

“Yes, it does,“ Jónína says. “Even if things have changed enormously for the better for the LGBTIQ+ community I‘m always aware that there might come a backlash. Rights that have been gained can so easily be taken away again. I think it‘s our duty to remind others of the lives of queer people. We have to keep the acceptance of diversity alive.“

“Even if things have changed enormously for the better for the LGBTIQ+ community I‘m always aware that there might come a backlash. Rights that have been gained can so easily be taken away again.“

“I don‘t write about lesbians because I feel I have to,“ Lilja says. “I do it because I want to tell these stories. Queer people are a big part of my life so obviously I want to write about them in my books. Being a lesbian has been a big issue in my life and been a deciding factor in almost everything I‘ve done. I assume that will be the case while I‘m alive, so yes, it is a huge factor in my writing.“

“Now you‘re making me feel bad again,“ Jónína moans. “I feel like I too should make that statement. Being in love with a famous woman who could not acknowledge our relationship for fifteen years before we made it public has of course affected my life enormously. But I don‘t dwell on it at all. I just love my life in the here and now. I don‘t want to ruin it by thinking about the past. I‘m a lot of things, being a lesbian is one, but that does not decide who I am. I‘m just me.“

Main photo: Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Jónína Leósdóttir are in unison when it comes to the importance of queer writing – even if they don‘t go about it the same way. Both writers will be taking part in the Icelandic crime fiction festival, Iceland Noir, which begins today.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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