An Extra Ordinary Life from Nesbø to Johansen

famous Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s recent decision to change his
name to Tom Johansen surprized many of his readers. Jo
Nesbø’s British publisher Harvill Secker has agreed to the
publication of Tom Johansen’s books. In the first coming fall of
2014, “Blood on Snow” and “Blood on Snow 2” will
be published with the author’s new name.

After the great success of “Headhunters” and Harry Hole
series, we are very pleased to partner with Jo on this exciting new
project, and we look forward to revealing more about Tom Johansen’s
mysterious world in the near future, says Secker.

Publishing Director Trygve Åslund said it is quite common to have a
pseudonym, when you reach a certain level in the genre.

this decision, Jo Nesbø follows the famous U.S. author Stephen King,
who has also published books under the pen name – Richard Bachman.

which name he uses, there is no doubt that he will continue his well
deserved fame. Speaking of his fame, I assume many of you have heard
or read some books of this amazingly talented Norwegian novelist in
any of more than forty languages, but probably very few of us know
about his extra ordinary life from football pitch to a world class

Story Telling Tradition in the Family

who was born in born and grew up in the historical Norwegian town,
Molde, come from a family of readers and story tellers. Her mother
was a librarian and father used to sit in the living room reading
every afternoon. And he told stories. Long stories he had heard
before, but in such a way that he wanted to hear them again.

fatherly talent has been transferred to little Nesbø when he was
only seven. At that age, he had already begun to impress friends at
his age, and some older children, with his gruesome ghost stories.

Football Passion

his greatest passion was soccer. Then, he made his first appearance
for Molde, a Premier League team in Norway, at the age of seventeen
and he was sure he would go on to play professionally in England for
the Tottenham Hotspurs.

Then I blew out the cruciate ligaments in my knees. Probably no loss
for Tottenham, but my world came crashing down. School was over and
when I got my grades I realized they just weren’t good enough to do
the things I had wanted to do, says Nesbø.

number of career paths were no longer open to him. So he took a deep
breath and signed up to do military service in the far north of
Norway. For the three years he was there, he shut himself in every
night and every weekend and bulldozed his way through the high school
syllabus. And read quite a bit of Hamsun and Hemingway, too.

Until then I had always trusted my talent and taken it for granted,
and followed the path of least resistance, but now I discovered a new
side of myself: self-discipline, notes Nesbø.

Economics, Little Music

he finally held his high school diploma in his hands that spring,
with top-notch grades, he experienced a deep, heartfelt satisfaction.
Now he could get into pretty much any school or any program he
wanted. But for the prospective novelist, the problem was that he
didn’t know what he wanted to study. So he enrolled at the
Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen.

day in the cafeteria this guy came up to him and said someone told
him he played guitar.

That wasn’t exactly true: I knew three chords. But I didn’t
contradict him since he was trying to get a band together. And so I
became the guitarist for De Tusen Hjem which played the kind of
industrial noise rock you get when you’re really bad at playing,
says he.

frankly admits that they sounded so awful that their vocalists quit
one after another. Eventually somebody pushed him up to the
microphone. And since he thought the lyrics for the cover songs they
were playing stank and that they might as well be playing actual
melodies instead of just angry strings of chords, so he started
writing songs.

to Pop Star Life

he finished university, he had an economics degree and the glimmering
of a notion that he might like to write pop songs. With this in mind,
he moved to Oslo and started working in finance, got bored and wrote
songs. One night a young jazz bass player he knew listened to some of
his songs. The next day they started a band, Di Derre.

A year later we were touring. Two years later we had a recording
contract. Our second album became the best selling album in Norway in
years. Our concerts sold out in hours. And suddenly we were pop
stars, says he.

he had seen what happened to other musicians who turned their hobby
into a job, and he was aware that it would demand too many
compromises as far as his music, and his life, were concerned. So he
hung onto his day job as a stockbroker while he continued playing

Boredom Having Changed His Life

also studied to become a financial analyst. When he got headhunted by
DnB Markets, the largest brokerage firm in Norway, to build up their
options division, he had to commit to two years with them.

In other words, I had more than enough to do. he performed at night
and worked during the day. After one year I was so burned out that I
hated everything and everyone I worked with, including myself, says

he told his band and boss that he needed six months off. Then he
hopped on a plane to Australia, to get as far away from Norway as he
could. But he took my laptop with me.

reason why he brought his laptop was that a woman from a publishing
company had proposed he write a book describing life on the road with
the band. That engendered a whole new way of thinking and he realized
he was ready to take the leap and write a novel.

It was just a question of getting started. But it had to be a story
about what Aksel Sandemose claimed were the only two things worth
writing about: murder and love, says he.

Birth of a World Class Novelist in Jetlag

takes about thirty hours to fly from Oslo to Sydney. And in those
thirty hours he came up with the plot for a story he started writing
as soon as he got to the hotel. It was the middle of the night, he
had jetlag and he wrote about a guy named Harry who landed at the
same Sydney airport, was staying in the same hotel and had jetlag.

he returned from Australia he had almost finished the book. As soon
as he set his suitcase down in his living room, he picked up writing

I just wrote and wrote and was irritated by disturbances like hunger
and the need for sleep. These were the best weeks of my life, says

sent the manuscript to a publisher, but under a pseudonym to make
sure they wouldn’t be tempted to publish a crap book by a
pop-star-turned-writer, then that move has changed his life in a good
life for his readers all over the world.

Jo Nesbø has achieved an unparalleled success both in his native
country Norway and abroad, winning the hearts of critics, booksellers
and readers alike with his ten internationally acclaimed crime novels
featuring Detective Harry Hole. Translated into more than forty
languages, awarded a whole range of awards and boasting
record-breaking sales, Nesbø has been lavishly praised by
international critics for broadening the scope of the contemporary
crime novel, and is today regarded as one the best crime writers of
our time.

CNN reportedly stated:

next Munch or Ibsen could be Jo Nesbø … And, if there’s any
justice, one day Harry Hole will be just as big as Harry Potter.”

Jo Nesbø Self Biography/TNP November Issue

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