A tour of Norway to die for – Thomas Enger
If you want to really get under the skin of Norway, the best guide has to be Thomas Enger. He writes the Henning Juul series set in his home city of Oslo and uses the city streets well, the dark corners, the coldness, the beautiful parks…nothing escapes the Enger touch…
So, Henning Juul is back.
KILLED kicks off pretty much right where CURSED ended, with Henning having found some more pieces of the puzzle in the great mystery of who set fire to his apartment (killing his son in the process), and why. Henning is certain that the answers are to be found in the real estate business, and if you, the readers of this, have read the ending of CURSED, you’ll understand why Henning has a few questions for his own sister in the matter as well. (If you haven’t read Cursed, then I won’t spoil anything for you…). And I can’t really tell you a lot more about the book, because then it would ruin the experience for the reader. But let me just say that the book starts with a murder. And then it gets more and more intense from there.
That boat on the cover! Such a scene of tension comes from this…
First, that picture is the creation of the maestro that is Mark Swan, the cover jacket designer. I did not have anything to do with that, but the picture is derived from the very first scene in the book when Henning, arms and legs tied together by a rope, is sitting in a boat with a hitman in front of him, about to meet his final destination in life – the bottom of that very same lake. I wanted the reader to know from the start where this was all headed, and then I went back in time to explore the reasons why Henning found himself in that boat. To me that was a perfect way to start the final book in the series.
Henning has a lot of guilt about his son. Can you tell us more about this?
Henning was (and still is, by the way), an excellent crime reporter, and because of his work he had made quite a few enemies along the way. One, or several of them (I can’t really tell you…), decided to put an end to his inquiries and the story that would inevitably follow, and they did so by setting fire to his apartment. Jonas, Henning’s son, became collateral damage, and he died as Henning was trying to save him. So naturally Henning is deeply traumatized by this, but Jonas’ death is also what keeps him going. He needs to get to the bottom of the who and the why, in order to give his son justice. And by doing so, he can finally let go, maybe not of the guilt, but at least there will be some element of closure in his life.
Location wise can you tell us about this part and side of Oslo and how you researched it?
Henning lives and breathes in Grünerløkka, where I live myself, so it wasn’t really a case of needing to do a lot of research. But the story in Killed takes place not only in Oslo, but also in Tønsberg, the oldest city in Norway about an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive away from Oslo, and quite a few scenes take place in Natal, Brazil, as well. As for the scenes in Tønsberg it didn’t take me long to get there, but I drove around quite a bit, took pictures of the city, the areas around the city in which the characters live, and I talked extensively to a relative of mine who lives quite close by, just to make sure I didn’t write or describe parts of the town incorrectly. The Brazil scenes were harder to write, because I had never been there, but thank God for Google maps and the power of Internet.
If you could be in a boat with any writer who is now dead, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Hm, fun question. I think it would have been Ernest Hemingway. I would really like to pick his brain about writing, every aspect of it. I would stay away from the obsessive drinking bits and just try to learn as much as I could about the simple, but yet so difficult writing he was so famously good at.
Is this the end of him? What are you writing next?
After I finished writing the Henning Juul series I really needed a break from him and from the Juul universe. I wrote a YA novel last year that so far hasn’t been picked up by any English publishers (I hope it will, though), and I’m currently working on a novel with another Norwegian author. I can’t really reveal anything more about that project yet, as it’s supposed to be a secret, but I am so thrilled about this book that hopefully will be published in Norway in late May, maybe early June. It’s one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked on. Then I’m going to write some other novels, I guess. I haven’t really decided yet which one it’s going to be. But I have a lot of ideas.
Tell us more about your music career please!
Well, it’s not a career per se, not to me, at least. I’m always a bit reluctant about calling myself a musician or a composer, even though I do compose the occasional song and I’m known to be able to play a tune on the piano from time to time. But I’m enjoying it a lot, it’s an excellent creative outlet for me, and I just recently started to collaborate with a highly skilled violin player called Ingrid (a former next door neighbour of mine, actually). Together we aim to release some songs in 2018. It might not amount to a whole album, but it will be Spotifyed properly, and it’s going to be fabulous. Then, perhaps, even I will call myself a composer, for real.
Tusen takk Thomas! A great chat as always. (Shame you can’t hear it but he plays us out with a Enger melody)