May 9th marks the US release of my favorite author Jo Nesbo’s newest Harry Hole novel, THE THIRST! In honor of this new series installment, I’m so excited to share this blog post recapping my incredible day spent meeting Jo and interviewing him on Facebook Live on May 8th. That same evening, I also attended his book signing at Barnes & Noble Union Square, where I listened to him in conversation with Edward Kastenmeier - a conversation which you’ll find recapped below as well! It was an absolute dream come true to meet Jo and have the chance to interview him, and I’m so thankful to his US publisher for making this possible.
FACEBOOK LIVE INTERVIEW
Talk about dream opportunities: I had the chance to visit the New York Facebook offices and meet the one and only Jo Nesbo, and interview him on Facebook Live! I had so much fun meeting Jo - he's just as personable and kind as I'd hoped.
My favorite behind-the-scenes story from our time together? Before the interview, we were walking through the Facebook offices when Jo spotted an espresso machine, and our Facebook contact offered to teach him how to use it! So I literally got to watch Jo Nesbo learn how to make espresso at Facebook—I can’t imagine a more perfect activity. Not to mention, the coffee was good!
After spending a little time getting to know each other, it was time for the interview! We kicked off the interview with a few of my personal questions for Jo, and then the rest of the interview was devoted to answering questions that came in from viewers on Facebook. This was just a dream come true, to have the chance to sit down with my favorite author and speak with him about his books! You can watch our full interview at the link below!
Watch the Interview: CBTB and Jo Nesbo on Facebook Live
BARNES & NOBLE EVENT
In the evening, I went to Barnes & Noble Union Square to listen to Jo in conversation with Edward Kastenmeier, an Executive Editor at Vintage Anchor. Following the conversation, I also got my copy of THE THIRST signed —and it’s safe to say, I was just over the moon to have not one but two chances to meet my favorite author, and all in one day! There were a few key points from this conversation that I was so excited to learn. Read on for my recap of Nesbo’s NYC event discussing THE THIRST!
Barnes & Noble Event Recap
- Nesbo didn’t originally plan for the Harry Hole books to become a series—in fact, it wasn’t until he wrote THE REDBREAST that he began to see it as a series. At that point, when he started writing THE REDBREAST (Book 3), he wrote out the whole character arc for Harry, and he’s been sticking to that plan for Harry’s development ever since.
- He wrote Phantom and Police as 1 long, connected story.
- There will be an end to the series - Harry won't have eternal life.
- What’s different in Harry’s life now, in THE THIRST?
- At the beginning of The Thirst, Harry is in a very different place - he's happy. He has quit the police force, and he’s now working as a teacher at the police academy. He’s also married! He doesn't have much experience being happy, and he's actually worried about this happiness - he has the feeling that he's walking on a thin layer of ice, and that he can feel it cracking beneath him. This waiting period is almost unbearable to him - he’s practically hoping for the ice to break sooner, because he knows it’s bound to at some point.
- There’s a moment in THE THIRST when a newer police investigator is feeling insecure in her new role. She reaches out to Harry, and asks him how he leads a team. Harry responds: “just catch the killer.” Is that Harry’s secret to his success? What is his secret?
- Harry has never been interested in the politics of the workplace - he has the mentality that winning takes care of everything. If you catch the killer, you can get away with all different things - and Harry does. He's been getting away with all of these things because he's good at catching killers.
- What has drawn Jo to Harry over all these years?
- The fact that he's a character of contradictions. Harry has all these possibilities as part of his personality: on the one hand he's a romantic, but also a cynic. He's an analytic, but he also goes by his gut feeling. He's a responsible citizen - he fights for society and feels that he wants to contribute to society with what he's good at (catching killers). On the other hand, he's an outsider—he feels more in common with outsiders in society. When Harry arrives at these moral crossroads, you don't know what he's going to do - he has all these new possibilities, and Jo finds this fascinating.
- At the core of the series is the question: do you really have free will? Given the same moral dilemma that Harry is given, would you really choose differently? Jo likes to ask these question as a fiction writer, but not really give answers.
- Has Harry ever done anything Jo didn't expect him to do?
- No, not in the process of writing. Jo normally plans everything out in detail, and writes the synopsis out and then sticks to the story he has planned. Harry's choices are a very important part of that story, and Jo has them planned out before he digs into writing each novel. But when he's in that early stage of working on the synopsis, he'll explore different choices for Harry - Harry is unpredictable, so he has to explore these different possibilities. Harry also has an element of revolt about him, and Jo has to be true to that as a writer. While he doesn’t want to go against the will of his readers, he also has to acknowledge that there’s an element to Harry’s behavior where he wants to disappoint those close to him—Harry revolts against what’s expected. So that streak is always part of his personality, and Jo has to explore that in his writing.
- THE THIRST uses Tinder as part of its main mystery - how did Nesbo decide to use that as part of the story?
- There’s this one particular coffee shop in Oslo that Jo used to go to when he was working. While he was there, he would notice these men and women meeting for the first time, and having these very polite conversations. He was convinced these were job interviews… but then he realized, this was actually internet dating! (It was before Tinder’s time!) He would sit there with his headphones in, working on his laptop, and sometimes he would lower the volume on his music and listen in on the conversations—and some were such awkward conversations. But he was also impressed with the courage that people had, putting their heart on their sleeve and risking their dignity. As Nesbo put it, “some of those dialogues were pure literature,” and so he would take notes! Parts of those conversations actually ended up in THE THIRST.
- He did plan to go on Tinder dates to check it out! But he chickened out. He felt like it wouldn't be fair to invite someone to a date under false pretenses - he was doing it for research so it just wouldn’t be right. But luckily he had a friend who was just out of a relationship, so she wanted to try Tinder, so she did it and reported back to him.
This whole day really couldn't have been more of a dream. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to meet Jo Nesbo and to interview him!! I've been a fan of Nesbo's books for years now, and I'm just blown away by this whole experience. It's always exciting to meet a favorite author, and Jo Nesbo is my ultimate author to meet. To make things even better, my time with him fully exceeded my expectations! He was funny, personable, and very thoughtful, and I absolutely loved learning from him.
Many, many thanks to Jo for answering my questions so thoughtfully and being such great company, and to his US publisher for facilitating this whole day!
Want to read more about Jo Nesbo's books?