Jørn Lier Horst Q&A
1. How has Chief Inspector William Wisting changed over the books?
My books are not just about what Wisting does with the case and how he solves them, but what the cases do with him. Wisting changes from book to book. He's been observing nearby how the crime has become rougher and more professional and how it has made us more insecure. While the world around him has become darker, Wisting has become more disillusioned. At the same time, he changes on the outer plane. He gets older. The children become adults, he has become a widower, and a new woman has entered his life and disappeared again. In The Katharina Code, he has also become a grandfather. But something is the same: Wisting is just as patient and understanding he has always been, and has the same drive: the persistent belief that he will succeed. It has always been bigger than the fear of failure.
2. There is speculation that being a former Senior Investigating Officer yourself, Wisting is slightly based on you. Do you deny these claims and if not, which part of him is based on you?
When, almost fifteen years ago, I had in mind to create a new, Scandinavian crime hero, I was very conscious of what he should be like. I was tired of reading about detectives who singlehandedly solved murder cases while dead drunk, waking up in the mornings with three-day-old designer stubble and a whiskey bottle at the ready on the bedside table. I wanted a central character who was more like the policemen I knew from my daily work in the police force. It turned out to be William Wisting, a considerate and concerned investigator, who doesn't have a high opinion of himself, but who does have a sense of social involvement far beyond the personal and an inherent commitment to his fellow human beings. He is a man of conscience, integrity, and humanity who believes he can contribute to the creation of a better world. I think he is such an investigator we would love to meet if one day we really should need help from the police. I like to think that we have some of those characteristics in common - but he's probably more a role model than an alter ego.
3. Scandi-crime as it is known in the UK has surpassed expectations and is still a genre that is a huge seller. Why do you think crime novels from your part of the world are such a success?
It is undeniably surprising that authors from countries pointed out as some of the most peaceful and contented places to live, are able to write in such a fascinating way about brutality and murder.
Seen from within, it is difficult on the whole to see that geographical divisions warrant the collective term Nordic Noir. Crime novels and thrillers written in this corner of the world are extremely varied in both form and content. There is no Scandic-Crime hallmark, but some readers are fascinated by what they call Nordic melancholy, an literary atmosphere shaped by winter darkness, the midnight sun and vast, barren landscapes. Others think it has to do with a lost paradise. A description of a social-democratic, well-functioning society attacked from within by violence and killings, and imbued with eeriness.
In my now numerous encounters with foreign crime fiction readers, I have tried to find an answer to this mystery. I have come to an understanding that Scandinavian crime novels considered to be more sophisticated something more than sheer superficial entertainment. Scandi-crime represents something different from the age-old stream of indifferent, uniform crime publications supplied to readers.
4. The Wisting books are being developed in to a major TV series by the producers of 'Wallander' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. Will this be in English or your native language? How excited are you to see Wisting and other characters on the screen?
The series is in part Norwegian and part American language. It is based on my novel «The caveman» (winner of the UK Petrona Award in 2016) where FBI agents arrives in Norway to team up with Wisting to hunt down one of FBI most wanted criminal. The FBI agents are played by Carrie Ann Moss (US) and the British actor Richie Campbell. It will premier in the Nordic countries in April. Hopefully it will be picked up by a UK distributor at the MIPTV convention in Cannes this spring.