This month sees the paperback release of The Rabbit Factor in the UK, so Nordic fiction fan Marc Harries from Nordic Watchlist had a chat with award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen about his writing career so far and his latest hit.
Marc at Nordic Watchlist: I suppose we should probably start with The Rabbit Factor. How would you describe it?
Antti Tuomainen: Ha, well I’m not always the best at selling my work, but it is essentially a story of love, death and insurance mathematics. The protagonist, Henri Koskinen, has always lived a life built on logic, probability and calculations. His life gets turned on its head overnight when, after losing his job, he inherits an adventure park with debts owed to some very dangerous people!
It is essentially a story of love, death and insurance mathematics.
Whilst he wrestles with the financial issues, he also wrestles with a new feeling, and one incapable of being calculated on a spreadsheet – love. The world is a very illogical and irrational place and that causes Henri A LOT of problems when he’s placed in an environment that’s so completely alien to him.
Marc at NW: Well I absolutely loved it and it’s definitely one of my favourite books in recent memory. It’s really got a bit of everything; it’s dark, it’s chaotic, it’s hilarious and I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not but I definitely saw a lot of myself in Henri! Am I right in thinking this is going to be the first in a series?
AT: Yes, and it’s actually my first ever series. All my other books to date have been standalones. I found myself about 20/30 pages away from the end of The Rabbit Factor and got a very strong feeling that Henri’s story doesn’t end with it.
The second in the series, The Moose Paradox has already been released in Finland and will be out in the UK in October this year. I’m in the middle of writing the third as we speak!
Marc at NW: Now we can’t talk about The Rabbit Factor without talking about it being picked up by Amazon Studios can we!? That must be exciting?
AT: You’re right, it is! It’s still all very much early days but I’ve had a great chat with the screenwriter Dave Hemingson. By the end I started to think he knew the book better than I did! I’m also a big Steve Carell fan so it’s a real honour to see him involved and hopefully playing Henri.
I’m also a big Steve Carell fan so it’s a real honour to see him involved
Marc at NW: Am I right in thinking that The Man Who Died has also made its way to the screen?
AT: You are! Filming was slightly delayed due to the pandemic but it’s due for release here in Finland in July. It’s different to the book in parts but the story is still the same. I don’t know yet whether it will make its way overseas, but it would be great if it did.
Marc at NW: Speaking of The Man Who Died, it’s fair to say that was a bit of a shift away from your earlier work and the likes of The Mine and Dark as My Heart. What was it that made what you want to change things up?
AT: It’s funny you should mention ‘The Mine’, because the switch all stemmed from that. There’s one particular scene in it that I had first written slightly differently to add humour in. Now that was a very dark book so the rewritten scene wouldn’t have suited it but the idea stuck with me and I realised I was holding part of myself back.
It’s proved a fascinating challenge as writing dark comedy requires a certain tone
I decided that in my next book I wanted to introduce humour into what are still dark stories. It’s proved a fascinating challenge as writing dark comedy requires a certain tone and you need to make sure you maintain that tone throughout.
Marc at NW: When I read your work it flows so effortlessly. Does writing come easy to you?
AT: I wish! I’ve actually never had what I would call an easy time writing a book. They’ve all taken me a minimum of a year and presented various different challenges.
When I re-read my first version of ‘The Man Who Died’ I realised I bored myself, so I thought, if it’s boring me, then what are other people going to think?! I knew it needed an extra boost and that eventually led me to come up with the idea of mushrooms.
Marc at NW: Is there anything particularly unique about Finnish humour that you were worried wouldn’t translate?
AT: I think whenever you release something that you’ve worked hard on and are proud of there are always concerns. You obviously want it to do well and be enjoyed. Before The Man Who Died was released I was definitely a little nervous but I think British humour and Finnish humour are actually quite similar.
Both Finns and British people seem to enjoy quite understated but dark humour. There’s also lots of sarcasm.
Both Finns and British people seem to enjoy quite understated but dark humour. There’s also lots of sarcasm. On top of that, I’m very lucky to work with an excellent translator in David Hackston who, where necessary, will change little things here and there so the book flows in a more English way.
Marc at NW: Have you any plans to come over to the UK this year for any of the big festivals?
AT: Absolutely. I really miss the energy of those festivals and being around other authors and readers. All being well I will be at Crimefest in Bristol in May and then I think Karen, my UK publisher is hopeful there will be another ‘Orenda Roadshow’. I hope to see you there!
Interview by Marc Harries
The Rabbit Factor is published by Orenda Books and is due for paperback release in the UK on 15 April 2022. Available in all good book stores and online.
We have not one, but TWO paperback copies of The Rabbit Factor to give away to Nordic Watchlist fans!
All you have to do is follow both @NordicWatchlist and @OrendaBooks on Instagram and share the competition with your followers.
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- Competition closes at midnight, Saturday April 16.
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