Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Thomas Enger

Thomas Enger
Photo by Camilla Stephan

I was born in Oslo, Norway, on the 21st of November 1973. My mother is a physioterrorist, sorry; physiotherapist, my father is a teacher in both French and English (he also speaks German if need be). Thus I grew up being taught that education is important, as is keeping your body in good shape. So I spent my childhood years playing football (not the american kind), dreaming of becoming a professional footballer at Manchester United (don’t hold that against me), but I never made it further than Ull/Kisa (a club at the third highest level in Norway when I quit). I do have one hell of a passing foot, though.

I also did a lot of girlchasing growing up, reading and watching R rated movies a lot sooner than I should have together with my friends. Needless to say; I had a good childhood. Hey, that rhymed.

My first paid job, besides the odd summer job cutting our neighbour’s lawn (not a lucrative or a particularly smart job, since I’m allergic to grass…), was as a garbage disposer at Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen. Yes, the airport. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, because I held a job as a waiter at a nearby hotel for a whole day (it wasn’t for me). The summer job at OSL didn’t last more than a few weeks, either, and then I moved on to bigger things. Working in a kiosk at a shopping mall in Lorenskog just outside Oslo. Wore a nice shirt and all.

Then I went to the military for nine months, got to fire a rifle at least three times, but mostly I spent my days in an office listening to Metallica. Did a lot of head banging. Got to wear a nice looking uniform, though. (Actually I had two)

After my soldiering days I went to Oslo to study sports, had a blast at Idrettshøgskolen learning all there is to know about, well, sports. Great fun. Got to practice a lot. Became a lot stronger.

Then I spent a year working as a sports teacher in Jessheim, where I grew up. Got to practice even more. Became even stronger. Despite what writers tell you (and I’m one of them, at least when it comes to writing), practice isn’t everything, so I decided to study some more. See if I could awaken the intellectual part of my brain. Don’t know if that worked out or not, but at least I got to go to Stavanger and learn the basics of a trade called journalism. I actually came a breath shy of landing a job out there on the rainy, windy west coast, but it wasn’t to be. Oslo was again my next destination. History became my next interest. You have to know about the past before you can write about the present, right?

At one point I found myself broke and unable to lend any more money to use on expensive oslonian beer, so it was time to grow up and get a job. Nettavisen became my first real employer. I worked there from 2000 to the summer of 2008. The last five years as a sports chief editor. Yes, it actually paid off to have a degree in sports.

But what I really wanted to do with my time, was to write fiction. After having tried for fifteen years (yes, I’m a resiliant bastard), I finally succeeded. My first novel Burned (originally titled Skinndød) was released by the Norwegian publisher Gyldendal in February 2010, and it was quickly sold to a number of countries, including England and the US. The count is, as it stands, 21 (but feel free to join the party). Burned was shortlisted for the eDunnit award in England for the best novel that was both published as a hard back and in a e-book format in 2011. Movie rights have been sold to the Norwegian production company 4 ½. But Steven, don’t hesitate to call if you want to get Dreamworks in on the action.

My second novel Pierced (originally titled Fantomsmerte) came a year later, and it was shortlisted for the prestigious Riverton award in Norway. It has also been sold to a lot of countries. Movie rights have also been sold to 4 ½. In fact, 4 ½ have purchased the rights to make a movie out of all my books in the Henning Juul series (six in total. Yes, I’m crazy). Didn’t imagine that when I wrote Burned on our kitchen table in Oslo.

My third novel Scarred (originally titled Blodtåke) is due to be released in Norway in the beginning of 2013.

Is there anything more to tell? Well, I live in Oslo with my wife and two kids, and I have a sister who’s a doctor. She has three kids. That means I’m an uncle. Oh, and I like to play golf. Still trying to figure out how that little bastard of a ball operates. Or maybe I’m just finding new ways to cut the grass.

Well, folks. There you have it.

Writers Festival Appearances