original Rave article here.
JOSH DONELLAN speaks with JO NESBØ about the film adaptation of his book HEADHUNTERS and what it’s like to be labeled ‘The next Stieg Larsson.’
You probably haven’t heard of the pop group Di Derre, but in the band’s native Norway they’re kind of a big deal. However, their lead singer Jo Nesbø, better known for his career as an internationally best selling crime novelist, didn’t always plan on becoming a famous practitioner of the musical and literary arts. Or taking calls from Martin Scorsese for that matter.
Nesbø started out his professional career as a successful stockbroker. It wasn’t until two years after the death of his father, who held lifelong literary aspirations that were never acted upon, that Nesbø decided to become an author. “I realized I had to write and in order to do that I had to quit my job. I summed up the money I had, I mean, you’re overpaid as a stockbroker so I knew I had enough to be a writer without income for quite some years and I didn’t really want a yacht or a big summer house. It didn’t feel like taking a risk it just felt like something I had to do. There was no way around it.”
Nesbø’s books have been a runaway success both in Norway and all over the world. So much so that when his books were first translated into English, some bright spark at his publisher’s marketing department decided it’d be a smart move to bill him as ‘the next Stieg Larsson.’ Nesbø, in a sardonic Scandinavian accent, comments “Well you know, it was the stickers on my books in the UK. I just saw the sticker, and I thought, ‘well, okay, they say I’m the new Stieg Larsson and … it could have been worse. I could have been the new Dan Brown.’”
With Headhunters recently released and Martin Scorsese having just announced that he will film Snowman, the seventh book in Nesbø’s hugely popular Harry Hole series, I ask Nesbø how he feels about the translation of his stories from page to screen. “I think the thing I’m worried about is more to do with how I feel about the story as a writer,” he replies. “If I’m finished with the story, I’m finished with the story. If I see a talented director wanting to tell a story, I’m happy to provide them with material. But I didn’t want to sell the rights to the Harry Hole series because I was worried it would impact on the series that I was still writing. So I said for many years, ‘I don’t want anyone to make a film of it, but if Martin Scorsese calls I might reconsider.’
“So that was a sort of joke,” he laughs, “but as it turned he called and he wanted to make a movie, so I sort of caved in and sold out.”
HEADHUNTERS is in cinemas now, rated [MA15+]. The HEADHUNTERS novel as well as the HARRY HOLE series are available now through Random House. www.jonesbo.com