My latest standalone, the historical mystery Crystal Nights, has been on the way for a long time. The setting is the fictional village of Kalum in Vendsyssel (the northernmost part of Jutland, Denmark). My inspiration for this village was Em, the tiny village where I was born in the early 1960s. As the Danish countryside of fifty years ago must seem very remote to many of my American and Australian readers, I have decided to collect a few photos to give you an impression of my little corner of the world. Here you see yours truly in 1964. Dorte HummelshĂ¸j Jakobsen, Denmark 2015.
Crystal Nights - available on Amazon
Road to HjĂ¸rring
Based on google map of the area 'Kalum' and surrounding villages
Vollerup The substation
Lars-Ole Telephone exchange Grocery
Church Road to HjĂ¸rring To Brook Farm and Heath Farm
Based on google map of the area.
Several of the houses in 'Kalum' were built by the same, local bricklayer in the 1930s. Pretty and solid red-brick houses in two storeys. The roofs were red tile, and the window frames were painted white. This style was very common for the period, but the bay in the sitting room was special for these particular houses. As you can imagine, it was the perfect place if you wanted to keep an eye on the whereabouts of your neighbours. This house is my own home, probably around 1965, but the one Lars-Ole of Crystal Nights lived in was nearly identical.
Copyright: Kanstrup. The small village school was closed down around 1965 so even though I have visited the buildings, it was never my school. In Crystal Nights it plays a central role, however. The picture is from 1948, but I remember the tall windows of the gymnasium from occasional visits to the place in the sixties.
"At first, it excited little attention that Lars-Ole did not turn up for school, although it should have been a simple matter to keep a record of the six classes of Kalum School."
Family photo. What does Niels Haugaard look like? He is a fictional character so it is up to you to create your own image. But I know that he and his classmates looked pretty much like this. "Niels's attention drifted away long before Mr Petersen's. He did not mind history in general, but the weather was unusually fine today. After what felt like weeks of incessant rain, the school year had started, and of course the summer hit them at full force. It was downright unfair to coop them up in the dusty classroom."
Picture: Mogens Nielsen. "Niels was waiting patiently, well hid among the foliage of an old elm tree. He could hardly see the ground beneath him, but he had a fine view across the small brook to the local substation, a red-brick building that resembled a tiny church tower." The substation of my home village was torn down several years ago, and I have not been able to trace a picture of it. This one is nearly the same model, but the metal door of our substation was brown.
Copyright: Kanstrup. As a child, I visited this small farm quite often together with a school friend. The barn had been torn down by then so there was only one wing left. I do not remember the number of milking cows, but two or three would be my guess. This farm, or smallholding, was the inspiration for the place called Brook Farm (BĂŚkgĂĽrden in Danish).
Picture: Fjaltring & Trans Local History Archive (probably 1965). There was a tiny telephone exchange in Em before I was born, and again I have allowed myself to use it in my story though it is set in the late 1960s. This one is from another area of Denmark, but the principle is the same: a tiny switchboard in a private living-room. "Police Sergeant Hejselberg received Lyngby at Kalum Telephone Exchange. He had decided they needed a more central meeting place than the school, and the telephone exchange struck him as the perfect choice. It was situated almost precisely between Niels and Lars-Ole's homes, and anything that happened, be it serious news or sheer gossip, went past Nora Broen's exchange desk sooner or later."
Picture: Niels Clemmensen The pretty, medieval church of 'Kalum' - the place where I was baptized and married. The gate is surrounded by two tiny towers. The one to the left hides the old privvy. Behind the church, you can see the roof of Niels Haugaard's home. "Niels stayed in the privvy, which squatted to the left of the main gate. The sexton never used it; why should he as he had access to a proper water closet in his home a few hundred metres away."
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Free picture companion to the novel 'Crystal Nights' - psychological mystery set in Scandinavia. Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen (2015)