Friday, 20 May 2011

Dancing With Myself: MARKO HAUTALA interviews MARKO HAUTALA

I've been juggling this week and maybe had a few too many balls to keep in the air at one time.  A couple may have dropped, but I'm keeping hold of my favourites.

One of the things I've been trying hard to do is to keep Dirty Old Town (and other stories) in view and I'm afraid some of you might be feeling overkill because of that.  I can only apologise for my zeal and reckon it's time to change my focus a little.

Having said that, being over at My Friends Call Me Kate has been a treat that felt really special and I loved doing the guest post.  I hope it wasn't my last there.

I also had an interview up at Kindle Author and that reached some of the places other interviews hadn't reached.

Pulp Ink moves from strength to strength.  I read David Cranmer's submission today and to say that it's clever and clearly the product of an amazing imagination would be an understatement.  I've done some Tweeting about stories received over the past week - Naomi Johnson, Jason Duke and Hilary Davidson have all quickened my pulse with their magic.  I thought the project was something special when we began it, now I realise that it's going to be better than even I imagined.  It's totally amazing.

There's also a cool competition up at the Guardian with the theme of 'summer'.  It's well worth a look.  I'm still trying to get a hook on the 'horse' theme for the Watery Grave, though I might just have tripped over something this morning that might spark something.

I'm also really chuffed to be part of a new publication calle Voluted Tales.  It looks like a tasty collection and there's some pretty good art work to be enjoyed.  Think 'Australian Dark Valentine' and you'd be close(ish).  The story in their is something a little different, but I love the main character - wish I'd met her myself way back.  They have their own website if you want to check them out.  As they pay for stories, you might be interested in taking a look if you write them.

And now to Finland. 

Jumpers on.



Q: First of all, can we find any of your writing in English?



A: Only some poems and a short story at the moment, but I hope that will change in the not-too-distant future. At the moment you can read a summary and a reading sample of my novel Shrouds online.  And if you speak German or Italian, you can read the whole novel quite soon. I take it that you don’t speak Finnish?


Q: Of course not.


A: Very few people do.


Q: Ok, but let’s get something straight: could you pick a genre that would best describe your work. This is very important for many people, including publishers, booksellers, agents, librarians, readers, etc.


A: No.


Q: Why? Genres help people. They make life easier.


A: I know, but for me the very thing that enabled me to start writing stories that I think are worth writing came through the realization that I don’t need to think about genres, that it’s not my problem. It was a kind of a revelation and I feel I have to stay faithful to that. It may sound a bit pompous, but that’s how it is.


Q: Can you at least tell me then how other people have described your work?


A: That I can do. My novels have been called psychological thrillers, mystery fiction, horror stories but also just plain mainstream prose. I have no problem with those labels at all as long as someone else than me is giving them.


Q: Why is that?


A: Because for me the most important thing is to create an atmosphere where the reader hasn’t got the slightest idea of what’s going to happen next. A feeling that anything can happen, the story might turn into supernatural horror or whodunit mystery or plain psychological realism. I think that is the best way to make the reader fascinated, emotionally involved and even scared. Philosophers have this fancy concept of ‘ontological uncertainty.’ It means that you start to suspect even the very basic things around you. That’s what really unsettles people, I think.


Q: Where does your fascination with that kind of uncertainty come from?


A: At least part of it comes from my work history. I used to work as a nurse in a mental institute where many patients had committed horrible crimes and lived in a world of their own making. Talking with people who believe they live in Sirius or in a black hole makes you think about your own conception of reality, you know. I wrote about my hospital experiences in Shrouds.


Q: Any literary influences?


A: I’ve always been fascinated by the British author Ramsey Campbell, especially by some of his short stories in which he loses the genre expectations of horror fiction and creates something that is genuinely creepy (in stories like ‘The Gap’ and ‘No End of Fun’). I’m also a big fan of Haruki Murakami, who has the knack of taking the reader into some very, very strange places. Here I have to also mention the new generation of Finnish authors who have pushed the boundaries of literary expression in my home country. A good introduction to that would be for example this overview by the American author Jeff VanderMeer.

Q: Any others?


A: Oh, William Blake. But it’s not an influence. More like a religion, I would say.

Q: Ok, thank you very much. This was the most interesting interview you’ve ever had, wasn’t it?


A: Definitely.

MARKO HAUTALA

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