Q&A with Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg – Authors of THE CIRCLE – Plus Giveaway

You may or may not have heard of THE CIRCLE, an international bestseller that finally made it’s way to the US through Overlook Press. Today, we’re thrilled to be on the blog tour for authors Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, with an interview. Book two in THE CIRCLE series, FIRE, released on January 30th!


IceyBooks: FIRE is the sequel to THE CIRCLE, tell us a little bit about your series.

Sara & Mats: The books are set in fictional Engelsfors, a Swedish small town in decline. A group of very different high school students find out that they are witches, and that they have to work together to stop the apocalypse.

We wanted a blend of magic and realism, and to give this diverse group of teens powers that really challenged them as human beings. They have to struggle with everyday problems and magical problems. Evil doesn’t always come in supernatural form.

IceyBooks: Many novels are inspired by one sentence or question, was there one that sparked THE CIRCLE?

Sara & Mats: We were brought together by our shared love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks and horror movies. We had only met a couple of times when we realized that we wanted to write something together. To begin with we only had a vague idea about a story about teens in a small, secluded town where everybody has preconceived notions about everybody. One day we were sitting in a café in our hometown Stockholm and Mats said: “What if they’re witches?” Sara immediately answered: “Yes! But then we have to write THREE books!”

IceyBooks: Do you have a favorite line that was removed from the original draft of THE CIRCLE or FIRE?

Sara & Mats: We edit a lot and we have never regretted anything we have removed. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that your darlings have to be killed, but it’s interesting how quickly you forget about them afterwards. Mats sometimes writes really bad puns, just to annoy Sara. These are quickly deleted.

IceyBooks: THE CIRCLE is an international bestseller: what was your first thought when you first learned of its success?

Sara & Mats: It was difficult to comprehend because it felt like a silly daydream come true. And we were working so hard on FIRE at the time that we couldn’t sit back and enjoy the success.

This has been such an amazing adventure, and it still isn’t over; on March 31st, the filming of THE CIRCLE kicks off here in Sweden. We are so excited about it! These books have changed our lives in so many ways. We are able to make a living off our writing now and that is an incredible luxury in itself.

IceyBooks: Give us the three:
Movies you can’t wait to see:

Mats: My favourite genre is horror, but I can’t think of any promising ones coming up so my choices are: The Fault in our Stars, Gone Girl, Maleficent
Sara: I look forward to TFioS too, but I’ll pick three different ones. The Veronica Mars-movie, Mockingjay 1, Dare Me (which is only in development)
Mats:Oh nooo, how could I forget the Veronica Mars movie? It has to be on my list too!

IceyBooks: Random facts about you:
Mats: One childhood fantasy of mine was to marry Swedish crown princess Victoria.
One of my favourite drinks is grasshopper, which noone under 75 has ever heard of, including bartenders.
My celebrity crush is Jensen Ackles.
Sara: As a child I looked a lot like crown princess Victoria.
I watch Spirited Away and Blade Runner at least once a year.
I love opera.

IceyBooks: Books you can’t wait to read:

Mats: I have so many books that I haven’t had time to read yet! I’m really looking forward to the final book of Locke & Key, the graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Also on my night-stand: Affinity by Sarah Waters and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.
Sara: I also have to say Locke & Key 6: Alpha & Omega. Also The Unwritten 8: Orpheus in the Underworld and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also have tons of unread books at home.

About the Authors

Sara B. Elfgren (B is for Bergmark) started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter and script editor. She has a degree in film studies. The Circle was her debut novel. In addition to the Engelsfors trilogy she is currently writing the graphic novel Vei together with comic book artist Karl Johnsson. She is also cowriting the screenplay to the film adaptation of The Circle together with director Levan Akin.

Sara was born in 1980 in Stockholm, and she still lives there. She is married.

Find Sara on her Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram

Mats Strandberg is an author and a journalist. He was a regular columnist at Aftonbladet, the largest evening newspaper in Sweden 2005-2013 and before that in the magazine QX. In 2004, the organization Sveriges Tidskrifter (Sweden’s Newspapers and Magazines) awarded him the title “Columnist of the Year”. Mats Strandberg has previously released three books, of which the third one, Half Lives was awarded “Book of the Year” in 2009 by QX.

Mats was born in 1976 in Fagersta. He moved to Stockholm in 1992 and never left. He is engaged.

Find Mats on his Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram

Add THE CIRCLE and FIRE to Goodreads

Thanks to Overlook Press, we’ve got a copy of THE CIRCLE or THE FIRE for one lucky US/Canada resident. Just fill out the Rafflecopter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.

February 12, 2014



  1. Reply

    Anastasia @ Here There Be Books

    February 12, 2014

    I haven’t read The Circle yet– but I love witches and the apocalypse and also Sweden. Yay!

    This is a totally adorable interview, y’all. I love how you two came together because of Buffy and Twin Peaks, and that you’re so excited for the Veronica Mars movie! <3

    • Reply

      Sara BE

      February 13, 2014

      :) Thank you! <3

  2. Reply

    susan beamon

    February 12, 2014

    Haven’t read these yet. I like apocalyptic stories, either surviving one or preventing one.

  3. Reply

    Caila F.

    February 12, 2014

    Haven’t read either yet, thanks for the contest!

  4. Reply


    February 12, 2014

    I haven’t read either book yet but I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for the interview.

  5. Reply


    February 12, 2014

    I’m very excited to read both! How am I just now hearing about them?

  6. Reply


    February 13, 2014

    Hadn’t heard of The Circle, but they both sound good! Added both to my goodreads TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  7. Reply

    Miriam - Schitzo-Cookie

    February 13, 2014

    I looove that series, I’m reading the third one right now. But I guess that I’m a bit partial since I’m Swedish…

  8. Reply


    February 18, 2014

    I am so excited for this series because its i mix of old and mystical and new and urban

  9. Reply

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    March 15, 2014

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