His apartment is littered with remnants of these former lives: a keyboard and guitar set up in a corner (he still performs 50 or 60 gigs a year) and an indoor rock-climbing wall snaking up the side of his office, a shrine to continued athleticism.
A few years ago, he took up the unlikeliest of projects when he began penning a children’s series about an absentminded professor named Doktor Proktor. “It was really for the worst reason,” he says. He has a daughter, who is now 11 (he and the girl’s mother are not married), and he thought it would be fun to write down some of the bedtime stories they made up together. “When you’re an established name, you know that a children’s book will have a pretty good chance of getting picked up. Like Madonna. It’s not that I had this great idea.”
He pauses, considering something.
“Actually, in my case, it was a great idea.”
Coming into his own
A phone call. Nesbo pauses his cider-drinking to answer. It was, he explains later, a Norwegian reality show. The host moves in with a different Norwegian celebrity every week; the producers want to know if she can move in with Nesbo next. He declines.
It’s a typical request as of late. It’s one thing to be famous in a country so intimate that morning walkers can dawdle on the lawn of the Oslo palace that houses King Harald V. It’s another to go global. For years, Nesbo turned down bids to option his books for the movies. Film is such a definitive medium, he says. “I’d rather have 1,000 different Harrys in the mind of my readers” than one chosen by a production company. Recently, though, he’s agreed to sell the rights for “The Snowman” to Working Title.
He’s been asked to write a new Doktor Proktor installment, and he’s working on developing a television series — the storyboards cover one wall of his dining area — though he won’t say what it’s about.
When told that about the London marketing ploy — the stickers with the Stieg Larsson prompt — he laughs. “Now that the book is number one in the U.K., they won’t have to use that anymore.”
Maybe, he muses, someone can create a new sticker to slap on the cover of the next Scandi-crime sensation. “Read this,” it will say, “if you like Jo Nesbo.”