"My first thought when I think about Aarhus is ’home’. I grew up in Aarhus – in North Aarhus to be precise – and I live in Aarhus. I went to school in Aarhus, got my degree in Aarhus, and my family lives here", those are Elsebeth Egholm's immediate thoughts about Aarhus. The feeling of being 'home' in Aarhus is no doubt perfectly recognizable by most people who were either born, live, or have lived in Aarhus. And the ample flow of pictures and atmosphere-filled scenes from Aarhus in the TV series 'Dicte' is certainly one of the reasons why so many viewers love watching it. The feeling of recognition is instant. In this interview Elsebeth Egholm takes you to her Aarhus – the city that inspired her to write the story about Dicte.
Where would you go on the first day of spring in Aarhus?
"On the first day of spring I would probably go for a stroll around the Egå Engsø lake which is close to where I live.
If you were to recommend three things do to when you want to have a great time in Aarhus, what would they be?
What is your favourite spot in Aarhus?
"I used to live in the small village of Kasted on the north-west fringe of Aarhus and thoroughly enjoy a walk in the Kasted Mose marshland on summer evenings where you may chance to hear a nightingale – if you're lucky."
If you are dining out which type of eating place will you choose?
"There are many great places to dine out in Aarhus. I don't dine at the most expensive ones very often myself, but rather prefer a restaurant with good, brasserie-style food, a relaxed atmosphere and a location close to the Aarhus nightlife."
Are there areas in Aarhus which you are particularly fond of?
"I do tend to have a soft spot for the very first cafés that emerged in Aarhus in the Pustervig, Klostergade and Studsgade area. The ones by the Aarhus River are fine too, but the original cafés, which I have begun to revisit a bit more often, probably have been somewhat sidetracked by them."
Do you feel that Aarhus has its own special vibrancy?
"I am not sure if there is a special kind of vibrancy in Aarhus. To me Aarhus is, as mentioned, my hometown, and a hometown is, I guess, always special somehow. I am also very fond of Copenhagen. But in Aarhus the city and the surrounding countryside are right next to each other, and I think that it is especially charming that it takes you only ten minutes to get from the city centre to Aarhus' woods and beaches."
How do you think Aarhus is different from other towns and cities in Denmark?
"Aarhus is different from most other Danish towns and cities because it's a city with a young population and a very large number of people constantly arriving and leaving. All Danes have some sort of relationship with Aarhus. They have either studied in Aarhus or have had a romantic interest in Aarhus, or they have been on holiday with their family, or have worked there. I don't know if Aarhus is the city in Denmark which has the biggest population flow, but it certainly owes its size to the large amount of educational institutions."
How do you view the way Aarhus has developed in recent years?
"Aarhus is a dynamic and ambitious city. It's certainly not particularly nice when the traffic is crawling along the Randersvej because of roadworks to make way for the new light rail, or when only one of the two lanes are open for traffic along the Kystvejen. On the other hand there is a lot going on. There's a brand new city quarter in the harbour area; we are going to become European Capital of Culture; we have recently got the Godsbanen culture production centre, etc. Life's not standing still in Aarhus, and streets or roads that you think you are quite familiar with may suddenly in appearance from one moment to the next."
What, in your opinion, has Aarhus got to offer visitors both from Denmark and from abroad?
"Aarhus has a great deal to offer visitors from Denmark and from abroad. I should think that the countryside surrounding the city is one of the main attractions for visitors. Particularly when, for example, there are sculptures strewn out along the coast. The beaches are really great, and the woods are simply beautiful. Moesgård Museum has been enlarged; the Old Town has been updated to include insights into more recent times; Aros Art Museum has got its Rainbow Panorama and presents international standard exhibitions; and there are exciting shops, restaurants and cafés. And great cocktail-bars and dance venue. I think that Aarhus has got something to offer most people."
Why does your story about Dicte take place in Aarhus, and what do you think that the city adds to the novels?
"It would be a pretty neat thing for me to say that the novels about Dicte take place in Aarhus because it is the best and most beautiful city in Denmark. That wouldn't, however, be the truth. I love Aarhus. But there are many other places that I also love. Aarhus is a fine city. And it is my hometown. The reason why the stories happen here is because it's practical, quite simply. All I need to do is to step out the front door to see what the city looks like in order to be able to describe it in a book. I may go for at stroll down the pedestrianised high street Strøget, or down Guldsmedgade, and afterwards head home and write how Dicte is making her way through the city centre, chasing a killer. In my next book Dicte and Rose, her daughter, invite people for a major celebration at a café in the small Pustervig square. I've been to a celebration like this myself so this is something I can write about. And when Dicte returns home to her yellow-coloured house, I can describe the house in Kasted because I used to live there myself."
"Having said that, Aarhus provides the novels with a recognisable location, similar to what we know from other crime stories enacted in other cities. And it is because of the large population flow in Aarhus and the fact that a lot of people have some sort of relationship the city, that I often get to hear: "It's so wonderful and refreshing that your books are played out in Aarhus, and that we can recognise all the locations."