Jessica Jarlvi

In the spotlight today is Jessica Jarlvi, having lived around the globe Jessica was born in Sweden, which is where she sets her mysteries.

When did you start writing, and why?

I’ve always been writing, but I don’t think it was until I did my MA in Creative Writing, that I started to take myself seriously as a writer. This is a great question actually, because I recently had to remind myself why I started writing! Once you have a publishing deal (and deadlines), there’s added pressure and I’ve had to reconnect with my initial passion. Luckily, I’m having fun writing again.

What motivates you to write?

I want to entertain the reader so I’m very character-driven, and I love suspense. But I also want to teach the reader something without this being overly obvious, whether that’s about mental health, human trafficking, being a swinger or having your first lesbian experience. I don’t write autobiographical novels, but I do immerse myself in my characters’ worlds and read a ton of books and articles on the subjects, as well as interview people.

What do you like to do to relax when not writing?

I like to have various freelance or teaching gigs on the go. The more I have to do, the more I get done. When I relax though, I love to read in my bed or a bubble bath, hang out with my husband and our four children, walk in nature or watch a great movie.

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

I am especially fond of Iris in my novel When I Wake Up, who is a bi-sexual librarian living in an open marriage. She’s true to herself, she loves literature, and although she’s strong and confident, she allows herself to be vulnerable.  

Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Iris’s husband (in When I Wake Up) because he’s a bit too smug, and doesn’t fully appreciate her.

Tell us about your last book…

What Did I Do? revolves around Kristin who suffers from OCD and has had a complicated upbringing. When she’s accused of murder, she runs away, not sure if she’s committed the crime or not, but she ultimately can’t run away from herself, and when she realises someone is on her trail, her inner world crumbles, making it hard to see what’s real and what isn’t.

What’s coming next…

I’m working on a dark comedy, but 2020 has not been a productive year for me!

Anything else you want to share?

Both my psychological thrillers take place in my native Sweden (a great place to set dark novels in!), while the second one also features Chicago where I lived for two years.

Links to my books:

When I Wake Up

What Did I Do?



Jessica Jarlvi’s debut novel, When I Wake Up, was a Montegrappa First Fiction prize winner, in 2018 the bookshop Magrudy’s selected it “Fiction book of the Year”, while it also featured on bestseller lists in the US and Australia. Her latest psychological thriller, What Did I Do? deals with mental health and human trafficking. Born in Sweden, Jessica has lived in the UK, the US and the UAE, and has worked in publishing and PR. She’s also co-edited a prison anthology, and is currently teaching journalism and creative writing.


Thanks to Jessica for taking part in this season of introductions, I’m quite envious of the travel, my own experience of far flung places tends to be by book!

Tomorrow, we come right back home to Wales to meet with Judith Barrow

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