Q&A

Photo: Lars Kastilan

Photo: Lars Kastilan

What was it about the fairytale of Snow White that made you want to write a crime trilogy?

Actually it was the title. Or all the three titles. I first began thinking about writing a crime novel for young adults and then it hit me: As Red as Blood would be a perfect title for such a novel. After that I instantly knew that I would also have to have a book called As White as Snow and a third one called As Black as Ebony.

So the titles came first and then I wanted to use fairytale elements also. It was clear for me from the very beginning that I wouldn’t be rewriting the story of Snow White or adding anything supernatural into the novel. But what I did want to do was to play a little game with the reader: Use bits and pieces the reader would recognize from the fairytale. Play with the common knowledge. Take advantage of the associations.

And let’s face it: most fairytales are quite dark. Snow White is no exception. It is a story about fear and growing up and attempted murder and death. I think it is more of a crime story than a love story. I also believe that fairytales were the YA literature of their time. They deal with the same issues YA literature deals with today: becoming an adult, choosing your path, standing up against cruelness of the world, falling in love, finding your place, death and sorrow.

I was of course also intrigued about the possibility to use strong colours: red, white and black. They appear in many forms in the trilogy.

Lumikki is a strong female protagonist, is it important to you to write about female characters?

It is important for me to write about interesting people with many sides to them. I admit that I’m more interested to write about female characters. I like to give them different voices, make them visible, make them count as persons, not just as girls. I mean: being a girl is great, being a human is amazing.

What are your favourite books and which authors do you admire?

I read of course a lot and different books are important to me at different times of life. Two of my absolute favourite authors year after year are Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansson. I can return to their books and find something new every time. I also love/admire authors like Philip Pullman, J. R. R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Jo Nesbø, Gillian Flynn, Peter Hœg, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, Suzanne Collins, Torgny Lindgren, P. G. Wodehouse, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, John Green, Isaac Asimov, Roald Dahl

There are also many, many great authors in Finland who write for children and young adults. My favourites are Sari Peltoniemi, Seita Vuorela, Siri Kolu, Timo Parvela, Tuula Kallioniemi, Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, Hannu Hirvonen and many, many more…

What made you decide to become an author and start writing fiction?

Magic. The magic that happens when you lose yourself to a great book and all the world around you disappears. I still can’t explain what happens or how. I just know that it is a connection between the book and the reader, something bigger. I had those magical moments as a child and dreamed about being able to create something similar to others. I was also an only child and used to play by myself. I would draw pictures and at the same time tell myself stories about them. When I was nine years old I decided that I want to be an author when I grow up. That is also when I started writing my first “book”.

The Snow White Trilogy is pretty scary, what’s your greatest fear?

Of course that something bad would happen to those I love, but I guess everybody is afraid of that. When it comes to myself, I’m afraid of losing my drive, my fire, my inspiration, my ability to dream, my way of being happy and looking at life like a great adventure.

What do you think has made Lumikki’s story so universally appealing and relatable?

I believe there are a couple of things: Of course the fact that books are thrillers or crime novels and those are read all over the world. Also the Snow White fairytale is known universally. And then I think that there is something about Lumikki Andersson herself that we can all relate to somehow. We have all been afraid, we all have secrets, sorrows, there are times we all feel alone – and we have all loved someone.

How did you begin shaping the character of Lumikki? In what ways is she different from you, or similar to you?

Actually the interesting thing is that didn’t “shape” Lumikki that much. She just came to me as a whole person. As I would have met her on the street and instantly knew who she was and what she has gone through. Lumikki is in many ways very different from the girl I was when I was seventeen. I was very social, had a lot of close friends, my family relationships were warm. I was much safer and happier than Lumikki but also more afraid to speak up for myself.

But of course there are things that me and Lumikki have in common. We both enjoy our solitude from time to time and I can relate to all the feelings she is going through, even if I don’t (luckily) have the same experiences. And I always think that it is best if the reader doesn’t know too much about the similarities between the authors and the characters…

The city of Tampere plays a big role in the series. It is also your home town. What made you decide to set the book there, and what elements about Tampere lend themselves so well to this story? Any must-visit places that fans of the series should go to, if they want to make a Snow White-themed trip to Finland?

I like books that are set in actual places and this was my tribute also to my home town. Tampere is big enough and small enough for the stories in the trilogy. It is a town with both history and modern things.

If the fans would like to have the ultimate Snow White Trilogy feeling in Tampere, they should definitely come in winter. But Tampere is a lovely summer town as well. Pyynikki-area with the beautiful houses and nature is wonderful. So is Tammela where Lumikki lives. And of course Sorsapuisto-park that is right beside my own apartment.

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