Monday, January 26, 2015

9mm interview with Antti Tuomainen

Well, we've done it. One hundred author interviews for the 9mm series have been published here on Crime Watch! Wow, crazy to think the series is still going almost five years after it started on a bit of a whim. I'll be pulling together some things from the 100 interviews for a blog post or two in the coming days, but for now, on with the show!

Late last year I had the pleasure of attending Iceland Noir in Reykjavik, an excellent crime fiction festival that had first been launched the year before following a casual conversation between Icelandic crime writers Quentin Bates, Ragnar Jonasson, and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. It was a wonderful festival, and I was feel grateful to have spent a wonderful couple of days attending events, interviewing a lot of authors, and chatting about crime fiction.

One of the authors I met for the first time at the festival was Antti Tuomainen, author of THE HEALER, a futuristic post-apocalyptic thriller set in Helsinki that won the Clue Award for the Best Crime Novel in Finland in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Even before I met Antti, I'd heard his name bandied about by several other attendees - he seemed something of a Scandinavian crime writing rock star.

The English-language translation of THE HEALER has been praised as a mix between Stieg Larsson and Cormac McCarthy, with the power and poetry of Tuomainen's prose, as much as his page-turning plotting, drawing rave reviews. Critics have praised "his piercing and evocative style", and feted him as "one of the first writers to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula".

But for now, Antti Tuomainen becomes the latest crime writer to stare down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: An interview with Antti Tuomainen

1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective? 
Right now, at this very moment, I would say my favourite criminal character is Frank Underwood, the American politician played by Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, the TV series. Frank is utterly corrupt, completely immoral and endlessly brilliant. I hate him and I can’t stop rooting for him. In other words: great writing.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why? 
Aaro Honka: Juanikkaat virtaheposet. A Finnish YA adventure story from the 1950’s. I found the book at my mother’s birth home library. In the book a group of resourceful young boys do all kinds of things in a small seaside town, including catching a petty criminal. (I think the guy had stolen a fishing pole or something to that extent) It was somehow very exotic and familiar at the same time and I could relate to it. I think that book ignited something in me even though I can’t really remember anything specific about it.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles? 
I’ve been writing for a living practically all my adult life. I was an advertising copywriter for 12 years, I’ve done journalism, have written film and TV screenplays and scripts for documentaries and, of course, I wrote poetry, plays and short stories in my youth. Also, I wrote two unpublished novels before my debut novel was published in 2007.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
A few things: I like to spend time with my wonderful wife and we like to take long walks. We enjoy this, and -- as we travel quite a bit -- we’ve found it’s the best way to get to know and see a new city. I also like sauna a lot. If I had a chance I’d probably go every day. I love it. And, of course, I read. Simple pleasures all of them, but surprisingly hard to find time for. I’m not complaining, by the way.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider? 
I would recommend the whole city, not just downtown Helsinki. There’s so much to see: the different parts of the city are like different characters in the same film. Also, the sea is everywhere and I enjoy walking the shores in different parts of the city.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? 
Bill Murray and Groundhog Day. Just kidding. What a tough question. Although, as it would be a slow and quite undramatic movie, I would hope for someone with an interesting face. Just to make sure that there’s something to see.

7. Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why? 
I suppose they all really are my favourites. This has to do with the fact that every piece of writing is a child of that particular time. I believe every piece stands for something. Sounds simple and a bit corny, perhaps, but that’s how it is: I needed to write every book and every piece I ever wrote. For one reason or another.

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf? 
I felt like I won. I don’t know what, but that’s how it felt. It felt strange and special to see my book in a bookshop. Actually, it still does. I feel grateful every time I see that. It makes me happy and very grateful to think that the book might find a reader. It’s a feeling I can’t really compare with anything else.

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? 
I’ve been very lucky. Only happy experiences.

Thank you Antti. We appreciate you taking the time to chat with Crime Watch


You can read more about Antti Tuomainen and his books here: 


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