This story first appeared in the Dec. 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Jo Nesbo, 52, is supplanting Stieg Larsson as the go-to Scandanivian crime writer with Phantom, his ninth novel about tortured Oslo homicide detective Harry Hole, plus an NBC TV series in the works and several films in development. In L.A. for the fall, the one-time pop star talked with THR about the book, working in Hollywood and what’s on his iPod.
The Hollywood Reporter: Phantom finds Harry returning home from exile in Bangkok to free a dead girlfriend’s sonfrom jail. What’s new?
Jo Nesbo: It’s not a procedural like the other books, where Harry is trying to find out the truth. In this case, he’s not interested in the truth, he’s just trying to get the son out of jail.
THR: Are we near the end of the series?
Nesbo: Close. It’s not going to be an ever-ending story. I promise not to resurrect him after.
THR: You also write the kids’ series Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder (being developed as a Norwegian movie). What inspired that?
Nesbo: My daughter would make me tell stories saying, “I want a girl, a real tiny boy, a dinosaur and a potato.” I skipped the dinosaur and the potato, but it had those two kids and a mad professor, who invented a powder that was so powerful that it would lift you from the ground, and the little boy would try to sell it to NASA to shoot astronauts in space without rockets. It’s about outsiders who are working together and hopefully will come out on top.
THR: You just struck an American TV development deal (based on the forthcoming novel I Am Victor, with House’s Katie Jacobs producing for NBC/Universal). Are you a fan of American TV?
Nesbo: I’ve been watching more American TV because of all the great TV series that have come out in the last five to 10 years. I’m a Sopranos fan, I’m a Wire fan, I’m a Mad Men fan. I’m a Deadwood fan. It makes me optimistic for the future of storytelling on TV that producers are willing to take that kind of jump.
THR: Any interest in screenwriting?
Nesbo: A little. It’s a different craft from writing novels. You get spoiled as a novelist because you get to be the director and the editor, and you play all the parts, but as a screenwriter,you are a bit down the ladder. When they ask you to write draft 14 and you can tell they don’t want to use your great ideas, you do want to say, “F—off,” and write a novel instead.
THR: You were once part of the hit Norwegian pop band Di Derre, so what’s on your iPod?
Nesbo: Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I’m trying to explain to my rock friends that it’s one of the greatest albums of all time, and Jason and the Scorchers, part of the big college rock wave of the late ’80s.