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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Meet Jo Nesbo at Harrogate Crime Festival – Part 4

Finally it’s Sunday, the last day of the Harrogate Crime Festival and it’s up early to pack my suitcase. Now where can I put all those books I’ve bought, plus can’t forget to pack the bottle of Old Peculier that came in my goody bag. The only solution is to pack the canvas goody bag and carry it slung over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
Breakfast next, and I decide not to collect my flyers and bookmarks from the unwanted books table until after the first panel of the day – bad decision – when I went to collect them they’d all been binned. The Scot in me mourned the loss of my material, the hours spent preparing it, never mind the ink and paper. Ah well, that’s life. Next year I’ll be there a lot earlier.
The highlight of morning had to be the special guest, Jo Nesbo. The ballroom where all the events are held was packed, illustrating the popularity of this event. Jo Nesbo is one of the Scandinavian writers who have risen to popularity over the past few years. And he’s Norwegian, which means I have a special affinity with him because of my Norwegian grandfather, not that he’d know it, of course.

Mark Lawson interviewing Jo Nesbo
He was an entertaining speaker who expressed a reluctance to talk at events, however, he said he was forced by Mark Billingham to come. He claimed to be unable to write in his apartment and said he preferred to write on trains, planes and in airports, and that he was delighted when his plane was delayed. His main character is Harry Hole, which he said was a common Norwegian name which should be pronounced ‘Hoola’. The first of his books published in the UK was The Devil’s Star, although the first book in the series is The Bat, which doesn’t seem to be available in a UK or US version.
He took five weeks to write the first draft of The Bat, which is set in Australia, however, Harry Hole was not fully developed until The Redbreast, his third novel. The Bat – in Norwegian it is The Batman – is based on an Aboriginal myth about a half-man, half-bat, with links to the devil.
His second book, also unavailable in the UK or US, is The Cockroaches and is set in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Redbreast his third book is the first of the series available in the UK and US. It is set in the trenches outside Leningrad, on the Eastern Front, in 1944. When talking about this book he provided details of his family’s dynamics. His mother and her family were in the resistance during the Second World War, but his father was in the German army and fought Stalin, therefore they were on opposing sides. This was not unusual in Norway at the time because many people fought against the Germans, and many fought with them, but most people did nothing. As a result of his wartime career his father was imprisoned for two years after the war. The Redbreast was written using his father’s memories of the trenches, and as a result he considers this his father’s book.

Jo Nesbo
I found this session with Jo Nesbo interesting, fascinating, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Now, I really must read his books.
I won’t bore you with the details of my journey home, including train breakdowns, but before I left, I made sure I paid my deposit for next year’s Old Peculier Crime Festival at Harrogate. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.




Rosemary Gemmell said...

He sounds a fascinating author, Chris - and I have to agree about writing on trains etc!

Sue Fortin said...

I have Jo Nesbo's book to read, tempting to sneak it to the top of my reading list.

Thanks Chris for an interesting post.