Author Conversations: Mystery Thriller Writer Tom Egeland

Tom Egeland Norwegian Writer 1If you want to flee from reality and enter unknown worlds of conspiracies and religious mysteries, ThorNews recommends a trip into Egeland’s mysterious universe. But we also warn our readers: If you do not want to become dependent on any form of stimulants, leave the Egeland books unopened.

Tom Egeland, born in 1959 in Oslo, has 30 years of experience as a newspaper and television journalist and editor before becoming a full-time author in 2006. He has written nine thrillers, one mainstream novel, one suspense book for young adults as well a recent thriller aimed at teenage readers. His novels have become international bestsellers and are translated into 23 languages – including English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Chinese and Korean.

In the mystery thrillers Relic (2001), Guardians of the Covenant (2007), The Gospel of Lucifer (2009) and The Testament of Nostradamus (2012), we follow the Norwegian archaeologist and anti-hero Bjørn Beltø.

ThorNews knew little about Tom Egeland’s authorship before we by chance opened The Testament of Nostradamus  and was “forced” to read all of his mystery thrillers – though in reverse chronological order.

The stories consist of three key components: A well-composed and intriguing historical-religious mystery rooted in real events, details and insight that support the story, as well as a virtuous and occasionally humorous narrator – components that provide a magical mix.

Fiction and Reality

We asked Tom Egeland how the idea for a new book occurs, like when he wrote Guardians of the Covenant.

– Some ideas come by themselves, while other ideas have to be worked on. “Guardians of the Covenant” came after “Relic”, who had described the Gospels of the New Testament. So I wanted to address the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch. The first idea was actually that Bjørn Beltø would reveal that Moses – as we know him from the Bible – never existed and that he did not write the Pentateuch. But when I began to do research on the topic, it turned out that the theologians had known this for centuries. Also, I’d like to do the impossible, namely to combine multiple topics into one thriller: A thriller from our time, an exciting story from the Viking era and some interludes from ancient Egypt.

– Do you want the reader to feel that this could really have happened? Is credibility important to you?

– I write fiction and think the readers understand that I make up stories. But since I always base my stories on real history, real theories and real events, many are unsure where the facts end and the story-making begins. I think it is a fun game to engage the readers.

Tom Egeland The Gospel of LuciferThorNews is wondering which of the three components; the plot, research or the writing itself, the author spends most time when writing a mystery thriller.

– Definitely the writing phase. I spend a year or more on a novel, and most of the time is spent on the writing. Not to mention the rewriting. I probably spend as much time to rewrite as I do when I write the raw text.

– With so many details – do you as Bjørn Beltø have many good helpers (an archaeologist, historian, scholar of religion) to support you?

– Research always starts on the Internet. Then I study relevant literature, and finally I turn to professionals about topics I do not find the answers to. But I like to have done preliminary research before I contact the experts.

The mysteries often refer to old, almost insoluble codes that must be deciphered, and to us readers, they appear to be very credible with all the descriptions and examples.

– For how long have you had this interest?

– Well. I would say ever since I was 10-12 years old.

 The Anti-hero Bjørn Beltø

The Norwegian archaeologist and anti-hero Bjørn Beltø has an extraordinary ability to be located right in the center of the mysteries. The stubborn, but highly skilled neurotic is driving a polka dot Citroen 2CV, has a complicated relationship with women and his own family. In addition, he is a visually impaired albino with claustrophobia.

– Do you sometimes feel sorry for your own hero, and are there some similarities between Bjørn Beltø and yourself?

– I do not really feel sorry for him, but I sometimes sympathize with him. I do not think there are very many similarities, but every writer brings sides of themselves into their literary characters. Bjørn is maybe the extreme version of me. I also can feel insecure, but not SO insure. But Bjørn’s humor is of course mine, and also his way of thinking and writing.

– If you had to choose all over again – would you have become an archaeologist, historian, scholar of religion? Or have you found your dream job as a writer?

– I would definitely have become a writer, but the three occupations you mention had certainly been relevant if I didn’t want to write.

ThorNews tells Tom Egeland that he only gets one wish fulfilled and has to choose: To be born into an era and fill a specific role.

– What time period, and who would you like to be?

– Well. What about becoming a Viking chief and try to spread a little mercy in an era of atrocities?

 “Mystical” Success

Tom Egeland has experienced a “mystical” success with his mystery thrillers. Not least among men who usually are not the first to queue up at bookstores.

Tom Egeland The Guardians of the Covenant– Do you feel that you fill an empty space for good and readable literature for men?

– I never think of myself or my books in such terms. I think I have an even number of female and male readers, and I am happy for every reader I get. And if I had not written my books, there are plenty of other books to choose from.

ThorNews wonders what Tom Egeland is working on right now.

– I’m in the final stages of a new novel about Bjørn Beltø and has started to write on a new youth novel about 14-year-old Robert, who this time is joining his mother who is an archeologist excavating an ancient Viking burial mound.

A new Bjørn Beltø novel is going to be published in 2014. ThorNews feels that the waiting period is too long before the book is available.

Visit Tom Egeland’s homepage here.


Text by: Thor Lanesskog

Photo of Tom Egeland by: Aschehoug/Raymond Mosken

Categories: Culture, Reading

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