Alexander Istad and Espen Meling Sele - Selected Title Authors

Alexander Istad has written the book The Dynamite Dudes and the Buzzkiller, which is illustrated by Espen Meling Sele. Alexander wanted to write a book for the rebels who prefer doing the opposite of what they’re told. – This book is for everyone who has the need to climb trees, get dirty and those who dream of flying, he says.

Alexander istad og espen meling sele april2023 lowres 01
From the left: Alexander Istad and Espen Meling Sele. Photo: Maria Kleppe Vihovde / Cappelen Damm.

The Dynamite Dudes and the Buzzkiller is one of NORLA’s Selected Titles for autumn 2023. Here, author Alexander Istad speaks about the book, what inspired him to write it and where and when he works best.

What is your book about?

The Dynamite Dudes and the Buzzkiller is about Alex, Nikk, and Proffen. They live in Ålesund with a mom who sews Sunnmøre bunads (traditional Norwegian folk costumes) and a dad who has a job cleaning up seagull poop at the City Hall Square. They go to the world’s best school with the world’s best principal, and life is actually pretty good.

One day at school, the principal announces he’s going on a long vacation with his husband – but the children don’t need to worry because he’s hired a really good substitute. The Dynamite Dudes aren’t exactly looking forward to having a substitute but agree that their kind principal deserves a vacation. It doesn’t take long before bizarre things start happening at school. The teachers are acting strangely, almost like robots. The other kids stop laughing and playing at recess. The Dynamite Dudes even spot an eight-year-old reading Business Insider! Something is really wrong. The Dudes decide to take matters into their own hands, but that turns out to be easier said than done… because who is it that’s following them around the streets of Ålesund? What is actually going on at school? And what happens when one of the brothers disappears without a trace? With the help of an old map of Ålesund’s underground tunnel system, the chemistry set they got for Christmas, and Nikk’s substantial internet following, the Dynamite Dudes stumble across a conspiracy that is bigger – and more dangerous – than they ever could have imagined.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always worked in film, photography, and other creative fields, but when my family and I moved from Oslo to Ålesund, the creative part of my life dried up completely. I started a job as a caseworker. Of course, a fast-paced every day in the public sector can offer a lot of excitement, but I had to take some steps to nourish my imagination.

The first book I wrote wasn’t very well-received; no one wanted it! They pointed out that the characters I called the “Dynamite Dudes” in my story should be developed further. This feedback led to me giving it my all. It started with some doodles and tons of mind maps. Slowly but surely, the universe took shape until it was the only thing I could think or talk about. Much to the annoyance of family and friends, it became a kind of obsession. The Dynamite Dudes have practically been the only thing on my mind for several years, and the book was no longer a choice anymore; the stories had to get out of my head and onto paper. I’m glad it turned out this way – because it ultimately landed me on the children’s bestseller list!

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who feels the urge to climb trees, get grass stains on their knees, and dreams of being able to fly. It’s for the rebels who prefer to do the opposite of what they’re told, for those who aren’t that fond of reading, and for moms and dads who enjoy reminiscing about all the best stories from their childhoods. The book is also definitely for children who don’t want to go to sleep quite yet, and for anyone who wants their daydream to last a little bit longer.

Where and/or when do you work best?

I write best with music playing in my ears. It often brings out my more sensitive and vulnerable emotions, and this is usually what connects me with the characters I’m writing about.

I have a full-time job alongside being an author, so writing often happens in between everything else – in the car while waiting for my kids at sports practice or at night when I really should be sleeping. Sometimes I take entire “writing weekends” when I isolate myself completely and immerse myself in a wonderful world where the madness flows out in the form of a new chapter. There’s something quite therapeutic and meditative about this way of disappearing into one’s own thoughts.

Read more

See full presentation of the book here

See all NORLA’s Selected Titles for autumn 2023 here