Everybody knows Jo Nesbø is pretty damn good at writing. You don’t sell more than 20 million books worldwide otherwise. But, as we quickly found out early on in this headline event, this is a man of many, many talents.

Long before picking up a pen and notepad and beginning to craft what would become the hugely popular Harry Hole series, he actually had aspirations of being a professional footballer. The star of his local team in Molde, Jo wanted to be Norway’s answer to George Best. But his dreams of one day playing for a top English club were shattered by a serious knee injury and he decided instead to become a stockbroker by day and a rock star by night.

As you do.
Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

Early on in his music career, he told us, his band played in a club in Oslo for no money. And they had to buy their own drinks. And change the name of the band every week so people would keep coming back. It’s safe to say he doesn’t have the same problem with his books these days.

Jo said he was always going to write at some point – “I see myself as an entertainer, that’s my main agenda.” His mum was a librarian, his dad an avid reader. His own reading tastes as a youngster were, shall we say, a bit unusual. He revealed how, as a six–year–old, the first book he asked to be read to him was Lord of the Flies. He liked the skull on the cover, you see. A later influence was the US author Jim Thompson, who wrote The Killer Inside Me. Perhaps this was all a sign of what was to come in his own writing…

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

The first Harry Hole book, The Bat, was published in Norway in 1997 but fans in the UK had to wait until late 2012 for the English translation. That meant a double helping of the troubled Oslo detective in the space of a year with the arrival of the tenth book in the series, Police, just a couple of days before the man himself landed in Stirling. This time, the cops are the victims, showing up dead at the scenes of old crimes they investigated and failed to solve. It’s clearly a case for serial killer expert Harry – but is he, himself, dead or alive? All we know at the start of the book is there is a patient in a coma, guarded by police in an Oslo hospital, and he’s showing signs of waking up…

An audience member wanted to know about the film adaptation of another book, The Snowman, which has been optioned by Martin Scorsese. And, more importantly, who should play the main man? Jo said he only wanted a say in who would direct the movie, not who plays Harry. “It’s all about the storytelling.” The storytelling in the book clearly had an impact on one fan in the sold–out crowd who confessed: “That Snowman facing towards the house terrified me!”

No doubt with George Best in mind, another member of the audience summed up what we were all thinking when he asked Jo: “Footballer, rock star, international best selling author – where did it all go wrong?”


Post by Lisa Gray

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt