Jean WesoNUJ Netherlands branch member Jens Anders Wejsmark Sørensen was born in Copenhagen and grew up in Copenhagen and Paris. He has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 2009. In April, Jens published his first book, a thriller called The Amsterdam Sniper, under the pen-name Jean Weso. He sat down with the Branch for a short but friendly interrogation regarding his new life of crime.

To start, what is your professional background?

I’m a trained journalist from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. After working for several years in Denmark and England as an editor, I became an independent contractor in 2005, working as a journalist, correspondent and creative agent. Since moving to Amsterdam, I’ve worked as a foreign correspondent covering events in text, sound, photo and video. I’ve also specialised in online presentation and communication – both as a webeditor and webmaster.

I had been thinking about turning to fiction writing for many years, and in 2017 I finally decided: now or never. The comparatively low threshold to entry offered by self-publishing was an important factor for me.

In recent years Scandinavian crime fiction has become very popular worldwide. Do you identify with this genre?

Being Danish, a nordic noire dimension to my work is inevitable. But in terms of major influences, the British crime fiction tradition is for me more important. I’m a big fan of Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse), Ian Rankin (Inspector John Rebus) and also the South African author Deon Meyer (Inspector Benny Greissel). As I write in English, I can hardly consider myself a true “Scandinavian” noire author.

jean weso Your book is set in Amsterdam.

Yes! This beautiful city provides an excellent backdrop for my stories. In The Amsterdam Sniper, I make great use of the interior and exterior of the many beautiful churches here. For my next work, Amsterdam Strangler, I’m situating events in the many great parks we have.

What does your workflow look like?

I set myself a goal of writing 1,700-1,800 words a day. When I’ve finished the first draft, I send it to four alpha readers, from whom I get many excellent suggestions. I then rewrite the manuscript, adding and removing bits, strengthening the narrative where needed. The second version goes to my copyeditor. As we all known proofreading your own text is virtually impossible. You really need an extra set of eyes at this point. Also, I recommend using a professional illustrator for the jacket. Don’t judge a book by its cover, but...

Writing fiction has a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of research involved and considerable concentration required when you spread yourself over several hundred pages. I’ve decided to dedicate myself to this; I’m not doing it on the side.

You've gone the self-publishing route. Tell us about that.

The Amsterdam Sniper is available via the self-publishing facilities of Amazon, under my own imprint, Jaws Media, both as a Kindle eBook as well as a print-on-demand paperback. It’s important to have your book out on as many platforms as possible, so I’m now looking into producing an audio version as well.

In addition, I’ve had a hundred copies printed here in the Netherlands. These I’m placing at booksellers like the American Book Center and Waterstones in Amsterdam along with the bookstores at Schiphol.

One important lesson I’m learning is that you need to keep the momentum up. My second book will be out in August, and my third (Amsterdam Stalker) in November.

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