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Jo Nesbo: There is enough depression in Scandinavia to write good crime stories
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Jo Nesbo: There is enough depression in Scandinavia to write good crime stories

Former soccer player/pop star, best-selling Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo has sold more than 30 million books worldwide. One of his books is bought every 23 seconds. Author of the exceptional Harry Hole novels on Hollywood, American sit-coms, Hemingway and living in the happiest country in the world…

Hollywood’s long-gestating adaptation of your bestseller “The Snowman” arrives next year, starring Michael Fassbender as the hardboiled Oslo detective Harry Hole. Are you excited?

– I’m a writer, not a movie producer. I just wanted to share my stories. I’ve told my side of the story. The rest does not interest me that much. I’ve been writing the Harry Hole series for many years. I always worried if the movies would take over the series since they have such a medium.

Scandinavian crime stories are wider than ever. Do you watch other crime shows?

– Yeah, I have seen “The Killing”. Original one, for sure… Not the American version.

Why?

– When I watched “The Office” before, and I realised that what they are capable of when it comes to remake. The original series [British version] was so funny, witty, and smart. American version was boring. After “The Office”, I made a promise myself that I would never watch an American version of any TV series, or movies.

 Nesbo at his house in Oslo, Norway (Photo Credit: Jan Erik Svendsen / The Washington Post)

Nesbo at his house in Oslo, Norway (Photo Credit: Jan Erik Svendsen / The Washington Post)

Almost every year, Norway rules The World’s Happiest Countries list, and named one of the the happiest nation of all. As a crime writer, what does it feel like to live there?

– There is enough depression here to write some good crime stories…. I don’t care what I’m surrounded by. It’s not important at all. I don’t think that crime fiction genre is closely linked to being depressed or living in a country with higher crime rate, unless you are letting to a true crime, which I am not.

So, Norway does not take a serious part in your works…

– It does, actually. However, I am more influenced by the things I’ve read when I grow up. And, they were not crime stories, at all.

What was your favourite author growing up?

– Hard to name just one. Mark Twain, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway… They all shaped my writing crime stories. In the end, it is a story anyway. It’s all about storytelling, not the crime.

What has changed in Norway after 2011 attacks where the gunman, mass murderer Andres Breivik killed 77 people near Oslo?

– I don’t see any significant change. I don’t think that it reshaped the nation in a way 9/11 changed the American society. 9/11 was a result of a political movement and attitude towards USA. The Andres Breivik case was more individual. After 9/11, a whole nation had also soul searched. In Anders Breivik case, we had to soul search an individual person, and trying to figure out whether he was insane or not. I believe, it didn’t mean anything. It almost felt like a natural disaster rather than national trauma. They found the killer right away, he admitted what he did, and he even wrote 1500 pages memo on his motive. [Editor’s note: On July 2015, mass murderer Anders Breivik was accepted to Oslo University from his prison cell to study political science.]

Mark Twain, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway… They all shaped my writing crime stories. In the end, it is a story anyway. It is always about the storytelling, not the crime.

Do you miss performing gigs, and being on tour?

– I am still playing, actually. Every summer we have been doing like 4-5 gigs. This year we will be touring again, for the first time in many years with my band. 15-20 gigs, maybe. I have been playing all along but just those were just small gigs. I’ve been playing quite a lot.

At nineteen, you were pretty sure I was going to be a professional soccer player. Neither a musician nor a writer; a soccer player!

– … And I did that. I played for one of the Norwegian premier leagues. What happened, then? – Life happens… Still playing soccer? – No, no… I was at a penalty competition few years ago and I hurt my knees there. I can’t play anymore. Still hurts. – [Revised, and re-edited from an interview by Ali Tufan Koc]

Cover Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jo Nesbo 


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