I’m thrilled to share my second post as part of Orenda Books The Finnish Invasion blog tour, a guest post from the author of The Mine, Antti Tuomainen. You can read my review of Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Exiled here
Without further ado, over to Antti Tuomainen who is sharing a fantastic insight into his influences….
One evening about 35 years ago my parents were staying late at our neighbors’ party. It wasn’t as if they had abandoned me. They were two doors away, within safe reach, but, as it were, also pleasantly out of sight. This gave me the perfect opportunity to watch television well past my usual bedtime. And as sometimes happens in these situations: an interesting film began.
In the movie, a man is asked to drive a very fast car from one place to another. In America, I understood. Then all kinds of weirdness ensued. The guy drives like crazy, meets a naked woman on a motorcycle, has strange conversations with some highly original people, takes white pills, and, finally, after being chased for 90 minutes, plows the car into a caterpillar and explodes. Wow. Cool. Nothing like I’d seen before. Better than any children’s programming ever.
Much later I learned that the movie was called The Vanishing Point and that it was some kind of a cult film. I’ve never seen it since and I only remember what I described above. But I have a hunch that encounters such as this have influenced me just as much as the conscious references I usually come up with it. (I was a reading child, of course, and I read until I became a teen when, for a few years, I entertained the notion of becoming a basketball player. I came to my senses quite soon.)
I can’t say exactly what kind of an impact The Vanishing Point made because I can’t remember it that well. But I can say that it took me by surprise, showed me something I instantly knew was right up my alley, so to speak. The same thing later happened dozens of times. It happened with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway and The Wild Bunch, The Naked Gun (all three of them, naturally), Johann Sebastian Bach, Joyce Carol Oates, Shakespeare, great Finnish poets like Arto Melleri, Paavo Haavikko, Sirkka Turkka, Teemu Hirvilammi.
I still remember hearing The Rolling Stones for the first time: the song was Rocks Off, the first cut from the double album Exile On Main Street. My older brother put it on: there’s that guitar, that leering ‘oh yeah’ and off we go to a glorious rock’n’roll mess that the song becomes by its end. I was 10 years old and had no clue as to what they were singing and why they were making all that noise and what it was all about if anything, but it was absolutely fantastic.
My mom gave me my first Elmore Leonard, a novel called The Bandits. It is not one of Leonard’s best, but I didn’t mind, of course. (Later I learned that Leonard’s novels were crime fiction. I read them as books, as stories.) My mom gave me so many more good books. She had great taste, and, for some reason, seemed to know me quite well. And actually, instead of listing all the books she gave me, I would say that she has been that influence.
When at 18 or 19 I decided to become a writer instead of a basketball player – I still don’t know what I was thinking – I took up serious reading too. There were great discoveries along the way, one of them being Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night. I was maybe 23 years old, living in Berlin, writing my first novel-length manuscript (mercifully unpublished) and found this long, sprawling, untamed stroke of mad genius. I remember being mesmerized, astonished: so you can do this too, and this, and this… I suppose the biggest thing I got out of it was that I realized that you can do anything with a novel.
There have been hundreds of more books and films and songs, naturally, but these came to mind now. It also shows, at least to some extent, how my (writer’s) mind works. I recognize something that is “for me” and I either consciously or subconsciously file it for future reference. Even things that I won’t really remember for 35 years and then, suddenly, see as being somehow pivotal. Which leads me to believe that I should definitely be able to solve this plot problem I’m just now having…
About the book
A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late? In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.
About Antti Tuomainen
Antti Tuomainen is the award-winning author of six novels: A Killer I Wish, My Brother’s Keeper, The Healer, Dark as My Heart, The Mine and his latest – The Man Who Died. He has been called ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ by the Finnish press and his writing has garnered attention worldwide.
Antti was born in Helsinki, Finland where he lives with his wife. He is currently writing his seventh novel. He also writes short stories, magazine articles and the occasional blog post.