With days to go before the highly-anticipated season finale of the series The Killing, word surfaced on Monday that AMC has renewed the shrouded-in-secrecy series for a second season. But its creator Veena Sud wasn't talking. "We shall see," was all she would say (with a big smile) when asked about its future. Maybe she'll tell us in 13 weeks.
Sud did have a lot to say about the development of the series, however, during an interview at the Banff International Media Festival. And its critical success.
"I'm overwhelmed and grateful and excited that people are responding to the show," she said. Jay Leno is a fan, she's heard. So is Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. In what can only be seen as a weird pop culture clash, author Judy Blume - an adolescent favourite with novels such as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - tweeted about The Killing last Sunday; and Karen Grassle, who played Ma Ingalls on the TV series Little House on the Prairie is also a fan - a particular thrill for Sud, who grew up wanting to be Laura Ingalls.
Sud, 43, was looking for a dark project to develop for television ("that's my sensibility") when her agent told her about a Danish series called Forbrydelsen, or The Killing in English. "The minute I heard the title I was really fascinated," says Sud. "I saw three episodes and I was hooked."
The murder/mystery, shot in Vancouver, revolves around the killing of a Seattle high school student, Rosie Larsen. The series launched with three related storylines: the police investigation, the grief of Rosie's family, and a political campaign that gets linked to the crime. There have been many, many twists along the way. And while some critics have moaned that 13 weeks is a long time to focus on one murder, Sud says her need for authenticity called for a longer treatment, and points out that in the story, the investigation takes place over less than two weeks.
"It's worth it to really look at the reality and the true price of a child's murder," she said. "If people want to wrap it up, they can watch one of the hundreds of other shows out there that wrap it up in an hour."
The season-long investigation into a single murder and the Pacific Northwest setting have inspired many comparisons to the 1990s series Twin Peaks. But it turns out Sud has never even seen the show. Instead, she cites Bruce Robinson's Jennifer Eight (also shot partially in the Vancouver area), David Fincher's Seven and Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter as influences. She says James Agee's A Death in the Family was important to her as a young writer, and calls The Killing an homage to the novel.
Sud, who was born in Toronto, grew up in Ohio and now lives in Los Angeles, wanted to set the show in a city that wasn't generally associated with murder and cop shows, and that was "breathtakingly beautiful." Vancouver was a natural stand-in for Seattle, with its similar look and experienced crews and infrastructure.
Behind the rainy series was a gut-wrenching research and writing process, where the writers met with the Los Angeles chapter of the Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have experienced the death of a child.
"These are the bravest souls on earth; really truly incredible people," says Sud. "They gave freely of their experience and they just said we want you to tell our story and we want you to tell it right. So it was really, really important when we were writing the show to do that."
Sud has a 19-year-old son, and says most of the writers on the show have children too. "As a parent and as someone who has written cop shows before ( Cold Case), it was really important for me to tell this story, and not just treat it as thought it was entertainment," she says. "To really authentically show what a family goes through."
The season finale of The Killing airs Sunday at 10 p.m. on AMC.