When you say a very long time, how long are we talking? Like four years? Before My Struggle?
No, but you know, when you write a novel there are elements that are very old. They could be in those books or in my thoughts or for a very long time, and I’ve never done anything about it. And then you write a novel and then you use everything that you have available.
I just finished the second novel two weeks ago. I’m working a little bit on it, but I’m done. I’m going to send it tomorrow.
What can you tell me about the wider project? You just talked about the novel taking place in a universe. Do you envision a series of novels?
I can’t really tell you much other than two books are written now. I realized when I started The Morning Star that this story, it takes a while to tell. I don’t know exactly how much or how many or when, but the plan is to write several novels within this universe, not necessarily with the same characters, but the same world.
You’ve mentioned that sort of the guiding principle, when you started wanting to write this, was a novel in many voices. I’m curious if you found any of them easier or more difficult to write?
The first one I did was Solveig, that was incredibly hard because she was the first woman I have ever written, really. I spent a long, long, long time on that. But when I understood how to do it, it was easy.
I wanted to ask you about one character, the younger woman, Iselin. I know she digs Billie Eilish. Are you a Billie Eilish fan?
No. I asked some young people in the house what they were listening to, and I had a kind of a range of singers and dance and stuff. I listened to them and I picked [Billie].
There are a bunch of different bands and musicians in your book, like the War on Drugs and Father John Misty. When does a band leap from music that you enjoy to something that you put in a novel?
That’s many different levels. Whenever I write I always play the same music again and again and again, like a thousand times, so it kind of enters me and the novel in a weird way. I remember the first time I heard War on Drugs, I was in America on a road trip. It was just driving at night in the Midwest. It was like minus 20 in a car, and then this incredibly atmospheric music came. And then I wrote, I went to Russia and I wrote an article about Russia. I was traveling there and I played that music nonstop. Every time I hear it now I get those kind of two different things coming. And my wife and I saw them in London, which was great. It’s good news that there’s a new record.
For this novel the one I played the most is Father John Misty. His last record [God’s Favorite Customer] is great. He is also in it. I don’t know if it’s in [the English edition] actually, because the lyrics [are copyrighted], but in the Norwegian at least I have the lyrics of one of his songs down there.
I know you like to write early in the day. Did that change during lockdown? What does your daily routine look like these days?
I get up at 6:30 because they always start leaving quarter to seven, so I want to say bye to [the kids]. Then we have a two year old and he wakes up at that time. So we are with him, take him to nursery, to school, all of that is done by nine o’clock. Then I have a smoke and a coffee in the garden, and then I start to work at 9:30. Then I work until 3:00 and I pick up my daughter and my son. With them I make dinner, read at the end of the day and then I go to sleep. That’s just a normal day.
Is there a lunch in there, or really just a coffee and a cigarette until dinner?
In Norway there’s no such thing, at least not when I lived there, as a warm lunch. You have some bread or whatever. So when I’m on my own, I don’t do lunch. I eat dinner quite late. I do like cooking, so I cook for dinner every day almost.
What’s your signature dish?
My signature dish would be a very delicious wiener schnitzel, which is very good. Also, we do very good osso buco, which is very easy to do, but it’s incredibly good. That’s my favorite dish.