Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guest Blogger: THOMAS ENGER

By Thomas Enger

A body lies in front of him.

The back of the bloodstained leather jacket has been slashed repeatedly. Above the collar the skull shines brightly through the shaven and tattooed scalp. He recognizes the tattoo immediately.

Only Jocke Brolenius has ‘Go to hell’ tattooed on the back of his neck.
His mobile goes dark. His eyes dart around and he pricks up his ears, but he hears nothing in the profound silence.

Someone has set him up.

Internationally bestselling author Thomas Enger returns with another pulse-pounding thriller, (Atria Books; $15.00, October 2nd, 2012). A follow up to the gripping masterpiece, BURNED, Enger once again takes readers into the terrifying world of investigative crime reporter Henning Juul, a man who is desperate to determine the truth about his son’s killer while struggling to fight his inner demons.

 “If you find out who set me up, I’ll tell you what happened the day your son died.” This is the message Henning Juul— back at work after being terribly burned and scarred for life in a fire that killed his son—receives from incarcerated former extortionist, Tore Pulli. Pulli is convicted for a murder he claims he didn't commit, and he knows Henning will want to find the real killer if it leads to information about his son’s death.

When Pulli ends up dead in prison—under mysterious circumstances—Juul decides to dig deeper. He knows the murders Pulli was convicted of do not bear his signature, and Juul is convinced that Pulli would never take his own life. Juul strikes up a fragile partnership with Iver Gundersen, a colleague now living with Juul’s ex-wife. They believe that Pulli’s death is part of an internal power struggle in a gang world where the desire for serious money is destroying the traditional, honor-based hierarchy. To parse out the truth, Juul must dive deep into an impenetrable world surrounded by a haze of myth.

Uncovering more questions than answers, Henning soon realizes that he has to find not one but several killers...killers who have never been more dangerous than they are now.

Intense and absorbing, will take readers on a spine-tingling journey through the seedy Norwegian crime world and behind the scenes of the lives that are caught in the whirlwind of an international crime ring, leaving them shocked and breathless, eager for the third book in the Henning Juul series.

Henning Juul - a Dexter in disguise?
a blog by Thomas Enger

A lot of people have asked me during the last four years: "How did you go about creating Henning Juul as a character?" "And how is it even possible to know that you are going to write six novels?"

Let me tell you how it all began. In the space of almost 15 years I made four attempts at writing a novel. None of them were published. Number three and four came quite close to making it, but it wasn't to be. So when the idea for this new character (Henning Juul) came to me, I sat down and asked myself: are you good enough to pursue a career as an author? Maybe you should try something different this time?

So I started thinking about TV. Maybe that format would suit me better. And I wanted to do something that hadn't been done before on television. I wanted the series to say something about our society in a satirical kind of way, and at the same time be as suspenseful as it could possibly be.

So I thought of Henning Juul as the journalistic equivalent to Dexter, a man running around killing people that somehow deserved it. And because he killed people, he needed a motivation, and that's where Henning's son came in. What if Henning was trying to find his son's killer? What if he justified his actions that way?

I remember writing scenes like Henning walking down the streets of Oslo, and then there would be this guy in the background painting a picture with his penis and people standing by applauding while drinking huge amounts of red wine. I wrote a scene where a man was talking to someone on the banks of Akerselva, the river that runs through parts of Oslo, with a lot of dead sea gulls floating by at the same time with no one seeming to care. Old people trying to sell drugs to the police in the open. Taxi drivers offloading their cars after they had only gone about 2000 miles. Things like that.

And I wrote all these different stories, what kind of people Henning should kill in each episode, and why. And of course, how that all should lead to Henning finding his son's killer. At one point I thought it was going to be 12 episodes. Then I got down to eight. It even went as far as me meeting with the head of development at NRK - Norway's biggest producer of TV series. The guy told me he loved the idea, and he wanted me to write a pitch that - if it was good enough - could result in me getting some working money.

At that point I was unemployed, and I needed an income quite quickly. And then, all of a sudden, the man I had met with decided to quit, and he handed me over to this other guy that was involved in a production somewhere up north in Norway. And he was just impossible to get in touch with.

So there I was, with an idea for a TV series but with no real prospects of getting somewhere with it. So I said to myself: hey, you're really on to something here. Why don't you go back to your original goal when you started writing? Why don't you see if you can write this universe as a novel series instead?

But because I had made four unsuccessful attempts, I decided to try to figure out what I previously had done wrong. I quickly realised that I had written stories set in cities I had never been to. I had written about people and environments I knew nothing or very little about. And I hadn't mapped anything out before I started writing.

But I had a great plan for Henning Juul. And I had made him a journalist, like I once had been myself. He lived in Oslo, like I did. And because the novel format is largely different from a TV series, I decided to lose all the satire and concentrate on the main issue at hand: Henning Juul finding his son's killer. And once that was in place, it was just a matter of mapping out the stories in a slightly different manner. When I was finished with that I realised I had material for six novels.

I still hadn't found any work, so I decided to make contact with two publishers in Oslo, and the very next day I was invited to a meeting with Gyldendal. They told me they loved the idea, and they wanted me to start writing. So that's what I did. Six weeks later I presented them with the first 120 pages of what was later to become Burned, volume one in the Henning Juul series, and based on those 120 pages Gyldendal told me they wanted to publish it.

I guess you can imagine what that felt like. I was unemployed, had no income, I had been trying for so long to make it as an author. All of a sudden I had. And not only that; as of now Burned has been sold to 21 countries, including England, Japan and the US.

And guess what? A production company in Norway (not NRK, but they wanted to as well) has purchased the right to make a movie out of ALL my Henning Juul novels. In due time they hope it will become a TV series as well.

Funny how life works out sometimes, right?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Enger is the internationally bestselling author of Burned. A former journalist and a music composer, he lives in Oslo, Nowray.

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