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Jo Nesbo introduces The Bat

20 years after it was first published, internationally bestselling phenomenon Jo Nesbo introduces the very first Harry Hole novel.

I wanted to write. Something. Anything.
        It was 1996 and I was gigging hard with my band at night while working as a stockbroker during the day. It was a strange Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde existence, and in hindsight I don’t know how I survived that year. Well, perhaps I didn’t. I couldn’t sleep, although that was all my body wanted. So I asked for some time out, first from the boss at the brokerage firm and then from the band.
        And then I went to Australia. Why Australia? Mostly because it wasn’t Oslo.
        And I thought if I was bored I could start on the novel I had promised myself (and a girl I knew who worked at a publishing house in Oslo) I would write.
        I didn’t see as much of Australia as I had planned. But I wasn’t bored.
        I wrote. For eighteen hours some days. For just twelve on others.
        I stayed in a little hotel room in the Kings Cross area of Sydney, which at that time was where you went for drugs and sex. And, after my first hit, I was hooked. On writing. Like a junkie, this was what it was all about, from the moment I woke to the moment I fell asleep, exhausted by the travails of the day. Like a junkie, I stole whatever I came across to get the drug. Australian history, bar culture, the Sea Life Aquarium and Sydney Opera House, prostitution in Darlinghurst Road, the Aboriginal storytelling tradition I found in books at the Australian Museum, a display of classic Australian entertainers and clowns, travelling fairs, the birth and longevity of the hippy movement in and around Byron Bay, gay culture and drag queens in Australia’s San Francisco, Australian rugby, a parachuting course outside Newcastle.
        All this and more ended up on the pages that grew and grew in volume, and which were given a title from an Aboriginal Australian legend. The Bat Man. But which had to be changed in English as others had the rights to a very similar name. (No, the Aboriginals wouldn’t sue me, but . . .)
        I arrived back home. Told the band I’d written the last song for a while. And told the boss at the broker’s I didn’t have time to work there; life was flying past and there were other things I had to do. Because I was – as I said – hooked.
        Then I sent the manuscript to the publishing house where the girl I knew worked.
        I no longer had a job and wondered what the future would bring. And I slept well.
        A few weeks later the phone rings, and I answer: ‘Jo Nesbø.’
        And the voice at the other end says: ‘Tell me, who is this Harry Hole actually?’
        The book was published in the autumn of 1997.

Jo Nesbo

Jo Nesbo played football for Norway’s premier league team Molde, but his dream of playing professionally for Spurs was dashed when he tore ligaments in his knee at the age of eighteen. After three years military service he attended business school and formed the band Di derre (‘Them There’). Their second album topped the charts in Norway, but he continued working as a financial analyst, crunching numbers during the day and gigging at night. When commissioned by a publisher to write a memoir about life on the road with his band, he instead came up with the plot for his first Harry Hole crime novel, The Bat. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading crime writers, with The Leopard, Phantom, Police and The Son all topping the UK bestseller charts, and his novels are published in 48 languages.

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