– I became a much safer man – VG

READY WITH HARRY HOLE: VG meets Jo Nesbø a few days before the launch of the 13th book about Harry Hole, “Blood Moon”, which comes out on 30 August. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meløe / VG

25 years after their debut, both Harry Hole (50-ish) and author Jo Nesbø (62) are more open to emotions.

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In a few days, the 13th book in the crime saga about Harry Hole will be released. The books have sold over 55 million copies worldwide – and have helped make Jo Nesbø good for over NOK 300 million, according to the latest accounting figures.

It has been 25 years since the first book in the series, and the 13th book is not only about murder, but about love, feelings and relationships.

– Those things are complicated for Harry. For me it is perhaps a bit of both, says Jo Nesbø.

We have just asked if he recognizes a passage from “Blodmåne” – the new Harry Hole book which is currently on its way to all the country’s bookshops.

Here, one of Harry’s women says something about how she is neither happy single – but would not be happy in a relationship either.

– The answer is yes. I can relate to that, but at the same time: It was an ex-boyfriend who once asked me if I thought this relationship was difficult.

– I replied that no, I think it is very simple. If you don’t want it, you can leave it alone.

CRYPTIC: Jo Nesbø guards his privacy, but gives some hints in this interview. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meløe / VG

– I know myself so well now, that I know what I want and what I want to let go of. And then you live a life, and then perhaps at some point you meet someone who is quite similar to yourself, says Nesbø.

– So what you are saying is that you have been happy in a relationship in the past?

– You know I’m not going to answer that, he smiles – and looks like a big full stop.

But he likes to talk about Harry Hole’s development over these 25 years.

– He is a man who is afraid of relationships, and his experience in life is that when he connects people to him, it has caused more pain than joy. It started with the loss of the mother, which is a consistent theme throughout the series.

– But then he has, after all, become less afraid to feel.

– Are you talking about Harry now, or yourself?

– Hehe, you know that all authors really only write about themselves?

SCARY: Jo Nesbø talks about what changed everything, namely that Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meløe / VG

– But ok, a lot has happened to me in these 25 years as well, but the turning point was probably when I became a father in adulthood. I became a much safer man. Here I had spent my life building a suit of armor, trivializing everything, even death. I asked myself the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” – and none of the answers freaked me out.

– But then I became a father and was terrified.

– Now I have an adult daughter. It has gone well, I guess I can breathe a kind of sigh of relief. But still: The worry that something will go wrong never completely disappears.

In “Bloodmåne” we get to follow the killer who, of all horrible things, uses parasites as a murder weapon right from the start.

PARASITE: A title discussed for the new Harry Hole book was “Parasite”. Here, Nesbø explains where the idea came from. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meløe / VG

– It all started with us being a group of friends who were at a climbing site surrounded by jungle and unpleasant animals. In the evening we started talking about the ugliest animals in the world, says Nesbø.

– We tried to top each other, and the victory went to Jonas Bergland, who is also a keen climber. He told about told about cymothoa exigua – the tongue-eating sea louse. I started doing research right away.

Because this louse attaches to the fish’s tongue and sucks blood until the tongue weathers, then the louse attaches to the stump of the tongue, sucks more blood – and develops into a new, living tongue.

And yes, sea lice appear in the book. Along with several other aggressive parasites.

– There are disturbing things. I have delved into parasitology – and among other things researched how different parasites can affect human behaviour.

– Parasites have an excessively bad reputation, many live in symbiosis with the world. It’s not black and white, and in “Blood Moon” this relationship between the characters is also reflected. Because it is not always a given who is the parasite and who is the host, says Nesbø.

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Unknown Harry Hole script is exhibited: – The book was doomed

In 2008, Jo Nesbø went home from the publisher and pressed DELETE and deleted a completely finished Harry Hole novel for good.

This time we meet Harry Hole in Los Angeles – in a dark place. He has not thought of anywhere else but his regular bar in Laurel Canyon where he meets one
aging movie actress in debt to a cartel of torpedoes. She reminds Harry of the mother he failed to save when he was a teenager, and he decides to sacrifice everything to help.

– To ensure that the debt is covered, Harry agrees to a mission from one of Oslo’s richest men who is suspected of the murder of two girls.

– So he goes home to Oslo. To put it with a tagline: “This time it’s not personal, this time it’s for the money”.

But slowly but surely, Harry is brought back to life, and without revealing too much, by the end of the book it is quite obvious that there will be a sequel.

– It’s probably an indication that there will be more, yes, says Nesbø.

WITH SUNGLASSES ON: Jo Nesbø is often asked about taking off his sunglasses, but they are primarily on because he suffers from chronic eye inflammation. Photo: Aurora Ytreberg Meløe / VG

In “Blodmåne”, the reader gets to follow the killer from the start – but not know who he is, thus starting the guessing competition.

– And Harry claims that he is right, but is thoroughly wrong. We definitely meet a fallible Harry in this book, says Nesbø and explains that it is perhaps inspired by himself and his own assertiveness.

Because even a seasoned crime writer can make mistakes.

When Jo Nesbø sat in a large international zoom meeting during the pandemic, there was talk of the TV series “The Undoing” with Nicole Kidman, which several people watched. Nesbø took the floor and told his theory about who he thought was the murderer.

– I thought it was completely obvious – and finished with: “Trust me, I do this for a living.”

– Of course I was completely wrong. If I’ve had this “Trust me, I do this for a living” thrown in my face afterwards? Oh yeah.

A couple of days after “Blodmåne” is launched at the Parkteatret in Oslo next Tuesday, Nesbø is going to the USA. He is so-called writers in residence at a large American crime festival in Minneapolis, but will also get to meet a great hero.

– I will finally get to meet the famous climber Lynn Hill. I’ll actually be staying at her house and we’ll be climbing together in Boulder, Colorado. I look forward to it like a youngster.

Read more about Nesbøs hard training towards his big climbing goal here.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: safer man

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