I am delighted to introduce to the blog
A huge welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Helena and thank you for talking with us today about your novella
The Finnish Girl
A bit of blurb
Kaisa is 14 and the new girl in town again.
When a messy divorce forces Kaisa’s mother to move to a small flat in an island suburb of Helsinki, Kaisa isn’t looking forward to another new school. But soon she meets Vappu and begins to spend time in her large, chaotic house.
Kaisa doesn’t know a friend of Vappu’s brother, a serious boy called Matti, is quietly observing her.
Matti loves Kaisa at first sight, but he is 21, seven years older than her.
Is she too young to fall in love?
A standalone read, The Finnish Girl is a prequel to the 1980s’ romance, The Englishman. Both books are based on true events.
What inspired you to write The Finnish Girl?
I’ve always been fascinated by shorter fiction and wanted to write a novella, because as much as I try I’m incapable of writing anything shorter. My readers also wanted to know more about Kaisa, the heroine in The Englishman series of books and so I thought it’d be nice to write about her as a teenager. But the story is very close to my own life, and it became quite a difficult tale to tell. It was very emotional and I very nearly didn’t publish the book. But now it’s out, I feel a great relief, and pride, that I managed to write it. I can’t bear giving up on anything I start.
What keeps you motivated as a writer?
The last sentence in the previous answer tells you something about my motivation: I’m very stubborn. Other than that, I feel a compulsion to write. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve kept a diary (I don’t any more – I blog instead!), and if I don’t write I’m grumpy and irritable. Writing keeps me sane.
Do you have a routine when you’re writing?
Yes. Last year I gave up my day job to write full-time and realised fairly soon that I needed a routine to keep writing. Otherwise I’d spend all my time online, blogging and talking to people on social media. I now get up at 6am, and make sure I’m at my desk with a cup of coffee by seven. I write for two to three hours, by which time my terrier is crossing his legs. I walk him for about an hour, and if my inspiration is still flowing, I write until lunchtime. Afternoons are reserved for emails, or for things like the Crouch End Festival, here in London, where I’m organising four literary events. I also do one to one writing mentoring, but I try to arrange these sessions for 11am or later so that I don’t miss out on that all-important writing time.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be a writer?
One of the events at the Crouch End Festival is a panel discussion titled, So You Want to Be a Writer, where industry experts will give advice to new authors. I also write a series of posts on my blog for new writers, so this is a great question, for me, Jo!
My first piece of advice is to read a lot and write a lot. Just sit down and do it; don’t worry too much at the beginning about style, or even quality – just write. The more you do, the better you get at it. It’s like any craft; practice makes perfect. Of course you need to have some talent for writing, but I believe that if you have an overwhelming desire to write, and stick at it, you already have that talent.
Anyone who is serous about making a career out of writing should get a first manuscript polished to perfection, get it read by other authors, and have it professionally edited.
Before you even think about publishing your book, or seeking an agent/publisher for your work, start building your author platform. Many of us didn’t do this at the start, and have regretted not harnessing all those first fans through a website, Facebook page or similar.
I could go on, but there’s a lot more advice to new writers on my website. ;-)
Which writers have inspired you?
There are so many to choose from, but I would say overwhelmingly Doris Lessing has had the most impact on me as an author. Amongst contemporary writers I love Jojo Moyes, William Boyd, Tessa Hadley, Siri Hustvedt and Liane Moriarty. I also have a penchant for Nordic Noir and murder mysteries, and love Jo Nesbo and JJ Marsh.
I’m just finishing the draft of the fourth book in The Englishman series. This novel will be out in September, and I’ve really loved writing the scenes, because the book is set in Helsinki and London in the mid 1980s. I spent a lot of time in both cities then, so it’s been wonderful to go back to those memories. Although I have to point out that this one is a purely fictional story!
Huge thanks to Helena for being the guest in our spotlight today
And thanks to Helena's generosity one lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of The Finnish Girl in this giveaway competition (UK only)
Giveaway runs until 13th June
Innit to Winnit...Good Luck !!
Innit to Winnit...Good Luck !!