By Bjørn Harry Schønhaug
For “king of crime” Jørn, Telemark means soft ice cream and coastal idyll Telemark has produced many gifted writers whom Jørn holds in high regard. One of his favourites is Vidar Sundstøl from Bø in Drangedal, whose use of language he admires. ‘His books go beyond pure crime.’
Successful author Jørn Lier Horst from Bamble tries to include a hint about Telemark in all his books. Here he shares his memories of childhood summers at Rognstranda. Rognstranda, out at the mouth of the fjord along the Telemark coast, is where Lier Horst learnt to swim. ‘I remember evening swimming trips to Rognstranda in the summer,’ he says. The family would take white bread and bananas with them as a snack, and buy a punnet of fresh, juicy strawberries on the way.
One of the very first people Jørn encountered when he was born was Porsgrunn author Bjørg Vik: ‘I was born the same night as her son!’ Jørn’s mother and Vik were in the same maternity ward at Porsgrunn hospital. Soft ice cream and concerts Although Jørn has never returned to live in Telemark after leaving to join the army, he still has a soft spot for his native county. ‘I’ve spent half my life on the other side of the fjord now, but the Telemark coast is definitely superior to Vestfold’s,’ he says. ‘The Vestfold coast runs parallel to the horizon, while the Telemark coast is an idyll of islets, bays, islands and skerries,’ Jørn states.
50 books In Norway alone, the 49-year-old author has sold more than three million books. The stories about William Wisting, together with his books about the Detective Agency No. 2 for children aged 6-9 and the CLUE series for slightly older children (9-12), are a big hit. ‘I’ve published 50 books now,’ he says proudly. Winter 2019 saw the publication of the 13th book in the CLUE series, bringing his tally to 50. He made his debut as an author in 2004 and, in 2018, published six books for adults and children. ‘If I’m going to do something, I like to do it to the max – I really throw myself into it.’
Every summer, he tries to take in at least one concert at Wrightegaarden in Langesund. ‘Langesund, soft ice cream and Postgirobygget go together,’ he says, referring to the Norwegian rock band. After all, Postgirobygget’s best-known song is “Idyll” – maybe Jørn knows the words and sings along?
Ibsen the crime writer Someone who never did things by halves was Telemark’s very own Henrik Ibsen. His play Brand contains the famous quote: ‘What you are, be fully, not in parts and pieces.’
As a child, Jørn occasionally came to “town”. For those who grew up at Rugtvedt in Bamble, Brevik was “town”, and where Jørn got everything he needed. ‘Brevik is still a small, charming coastal town, whether you come by boat or car. A little undiscovered gem,’ he says.
Jørn Lier Horst’s books have been translated into 33 languages. When he is abroad, he often talks about Henrik Ibsen as a crime writer. ‘His plays are mysteries from the past that play out through several acts,’ Jørn explains. 18