Photos: Thron Ullberg / Fokus / Martina Cvek / HGSS
Readers are clever, they do not want to read authors writing without great energy. The longer I write, the harder it gets.
Jo Nesbø, although an internationally famous writer who is invited to all corners of the world, likes coming to Croatia. He likes to come here among the temperamental Croatian readers, who welcome him almost as a rock star, because he also likes our countryside. Nesbø, an avid climber, combines book promotion events with climbing Croatia’s rocks. During his stay in Split in 2018, he was taken by some highly trained climbers, members of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS), on a climbing trip to Paklenica canyon – which is one of the most remarkable climbing destinations in Europe and beyond – and was given an HGSS T-shirt as a gift. When he came back years later to launch new books and climb the Omiš Dinara, he remarked that the HGSS T-shirt was so comfortable that he had been sleeping in it for quite some time. “Not only do we make your climbs secure, but we also keep you warm at night,” members of the HGSS replied, making him laugh.
We arranged to meet in Split, thanks to his kind Croatian publisher, Fokus, just before Nesbø’s return to Oslo.
He is unassuming, soft-spoken, as if he does not want to draw attention to himself in any way. It is no wonder, he gets the kind of attention here that is usually reserved only for footballers.
It is a coincidence that the young Nesbø dreamed of a football career, and he played it professionally until he sustained a serious injury. When he is not writing or climbing, he plays with Di Derre, the band he has been playing for decades in. It makes him, he says, extremely happy. After all, the first thing he wrote, long before any books, were the poems he performs with his band. He has a degree in economics and used to work as a stockbroker; he did a lot of things in his life before settling on writing.
You have sold more than 500 million books around the world. With your life experience and figures that put you at the top of the lists of world’s bestselling authors, what do you feel success is?
Success, just like many other things, is a matter of definition. It depends on how a person defines its meaning. A sense of personal achievement is not the same as success. Success is what people attribute to you, but it does not have to be the same as your intrinsic feeling of success.
Here is an example from my life: when I first climbed a 6e grade route, which is something most people can do providing they put in some effort, providing they train, it was a great achievement for me. I remember it very well. I have a friend who is a much better climber than I am, and who is also an ambitious writer, and every now and then he reminds me of the event.