Author Interview & 5 Book Giveaway: 172 Hours on the Moon

Welcome to Author Johan Harstad

Johan Harstad is a 31-year-old Norwegian author, graphic designer, playwright, drummer, and international sensation. He is the winner of the 2008 Brage Award (Brageprisen), previously won by Per Petterson, and his books have been published in over 11 countries. In 2009, he was named the first ever in-house playwright at the National Theatre in Oslo. His first novel Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion, originally published in Norway by Gyldendal in 2005, was made into a TV series in 2009 starring The Wire’s Chad Coleman. Harstad lives in Oslo and is working on his next novel.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I’d go back. I have some unfinished business to attend to …

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Thom Yorke
Joan Didion
Takashi Murakami
Sofia Coppola
I leave the fifth space open, so they can bring someone along. Some of my best friends are those I’ve met through other people.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
I’m guessing a boat is out of the question, right? So…
Dharma Initiative jumpsuit
Movie projector
70mm copy of “Apocalypse Now” would do the trick
The rest I need I hope to find down in the Swan Station …

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Yes. Lots. TBA, as they say.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Nothing beats the moment you hold your first book in your hands. Apart from that, there’s been so many rewarding experiences, it’s hard to choose one. But finishing a book and walking out in the sun, exhausted after working hard on it for several years is always great. I highly recommend.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world…which would it be?
“Woodcutters” by Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. It’s complicated …

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
As a child, “Mio, My Son” and “The Brothers Lionheart” had a profound impact on me. Both were written by Swedish children’s books writer Astrid Lindgren. My mother read them to me. As a teenager I started exploring poetry, especially the beat poets and French 19th century poetry. Weird, rewarding stuff.

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Talking Heads is the central band for the book, and “Psycho Killer” is the definitive theme song.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
Paris in the late sixties/early seventies could work, I think – after all the famous writers had left or died, leaving space for complete mayhem and new ideas. I have no doubt it would be a very productive and enjoyable place to be.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
Bill Murray, supported by Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, who’ll play my inner self. And Harry Dean Stanton as the stand-in for the very few action sequences. At least it would make the movie interesting and take away the focus from the obvious holes in the plot.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
Hm, maybe not that crazy, but for a long time I was planning a novel about a guy who tunneled his way out of communist Eastern-Germany only to go back there for the weekends. I only wrote a couple of pages, though I did spend almost a year researching it.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Write what you want to write, not what they want you to write. And don’t be fooled by the sun in March or you’ll catch a cold.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
Instead of a novel, I’d like a signed copy of the first edition of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” please.

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
An apartment in Paris. I feel very at home there, though I don’t speak French. Another million and I’d want an apartment in SoHo or Tribeca, New York. A third one and I’d want a summer house on the coast of Normandy, France. I’m all about real estate, it seems …

Which authors have influenced you the most and how?
That is a question I’m still trying to find the answer to. To be honest I don’t know. The only thing I’m sure of, is that musicians, filmmakers and visual artists have influenced me in the same way as writers, so it’s all a big, strange mix.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I had a private release party for a small group of friends when it came out, and then my best friend read aloud from it in a silly, mocking voice. Absolutely great. I got as drunk as the occasion demanded.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
As a writer you don’t have to be embarrassed, you can just claim it’s research. I also asked my wife if she could help me out on this question, but she just confirmed that I’m never embarrassed by these things. Though I get embarrassed very easily by almost anything else, she added. But I did watch “Top Gun” 72 times before I was 15 (I counted). I still know every line by heart. Nothing to be proud of.

Write a Haiku about your book
I’d rather not. No one will benefit from it:-)

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
I hate to sound like a broken record, and though more known as a musician/artist, I’d still go for David Byrne from Talking Heads. He’s an excellent bicyclist and I’m an excellent passenger. I could sit in a cart behind him and we’d go everywhere, writing about the people we meet, the places we see. Starting in Japan. Ending in Brazil. I’d put up our tents while he’d fix the flat tire. Before bedtime we’d play a match of table tennis. A great team.

Favorite quote from a movie?
“We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write ‘fuck’ on their airplanes because it’s obscene!” from “Apocalypse Now”.

172 Hours on the Moon

It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space–and change their lives forever.
Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune.
Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan.
Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them.
In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.

Giveaway Details
5 winners will each receive a copy of 172 Hours on the Moon
Open to US only (No PO Boxes)
Ends 5/7/12

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