Finnish artist & photographer – Milla Koivisto

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 5th February 2016
  • Kaikubanner

    Nordophile was very excited to come across Finnish artist & photographer, Milla Koivisto. Not purely just because of her breath-taking artistic view of the Nordic landscape but also because of her natural intensity when relating back to her audience her vision. Milla Koivisto is an artist, photographer and author from Finland. Her focus is on the […]




    Nordophile was very excited to come across Finnish artist & photographer, Milla Koivisto. Not purely just because of her breath-taking artistic view of the Nordic landscape but also because of her natural intensity when relating back to her audience her vision.

    Milla Koivisto is an artist, photographer and author from Finland. Her focus is on the natural world and our connections and relationship with it. Milla studied both illustration and visual communication at the Arts University of Bournemouth. She also studied classical flute and music theatre in Finland. She works with several artistic disciplines and her interest lies in narrative structures and storytelling. She currently divides her time between Finland and the UK.

     

    Kaiku

    We were keen to understand more about the Kaiku project from this Finnish artist and find out how this would translate to peak the interest of Nordophiles, with a certain attraction to the Nordic arts, in all genres.

    Kaiku is an audio-visual project, structured around a core narrative. Set in and inspired by the Nordic landscape of the Finnish archipelago, Kaiku tells the story of a reclusive Shaman, a flute playing girl called Aino and her echo Kaiku. The protagonists of the story face the harshness and the isolation brought by the landscape and each of their lives is a manifestation of learning and surviving by the stipulations of nature. Music and sound in the natural world become ways of connecting, coping and conveying feelings in the dialogue-less story of Kaiku.

    In the Kaiku project traditional storytelling is combined with modern narrative technique. The project combines words, images, recorded sound, compositions and video. The Kaiku project will be released in a series of exhibitions, events and talks during 2015-2017.

     

    The Kaiku Series

    The first short film in the Kaiku series, ‘The Old Woman’ is an exploration of solitude through sound and image and portrays the landscape of an old woman called Aino’s soul. The film was shot during a three month stay on a treeless lighthouse island of Bengtskär in the Baltic Sea in Finland.

     

     

    The Kaiku book

    The first part of the Kaiku project is an illustrated, fictional book. Set on a small island where the winter days are short and the summer sun never sets and life must adapt to the changing seasons. A vision of two women with the same face sets a reclusive shaman on a journey from his dark forest cabin to the barren, windswept shores of a lighthouse.

    In Kaiku our relationship with nature is explored through sounds and seasons. Set over the course of a year in the isolation of a small island Kaiku  is the result of a long-running fascination with traditional narrative, folklore and the natural environment.

     

    To order the book and find out more about Milla Koivisto head over to Millakoivisto.com

    Milla talks about the origins of the Kaiku project on her site which gives us an insight into her thought process and how the idea was born.

    “A story had been brewing in my mind for some time, not leaving me alone. On the last day of December 2012 I sat down at my desk in my apartment in Brighton and started to write. I have always been writing stories, but never been mature enough to sit still long enough to finish a longer piece. Writing a book is of course more then just an endurance sport -it is about finding a story you believe in, are passionate about and know is true. For me there was only one thing I could write about. I had to write about the sea and the island I grew up on. The project became a love letter to the landscape I knew. I was brought up on a small island called Kemiönsaari in the south coast of Finland, in the Baltic Sea. At the time I started writing Kaiku I had been living in the UK for seven years. I realised how little was written or known about the Finnish culture outside Finland. It became clear to me that the story needed to be written in English, so I added this on to my challenge and started writing in my third language.

    I started to write about an island, about a Shaman, a girl called Aino and her echo Kaiku. Kaiku in Finnish is both a name and the event of a sound caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener – an echo. What I wanted to portray in the story was the interconnection with the natural world and the people. It was important for me to show the integral connection between the people and their land. It also became a story about solitude, isolation and loneliness, themes I feel are close to the Finnish people through our characteristics, the geographical location of the country and perhaps even through the dissimilarity of our language compared to most other European languages.

     

     

    From the very beginning I wanted to create a whole world around the story of Kaiku. I wanted to not only to tell a story with words but also to make it come alive with sound and images. Kaiku became a multidisciplinary project structured around a core narrative. It is a project combining words, image, sound and music and video. So far the project has taken me to three small islands in Finland. In Summer 2014 I spent a month on the island of Kökar, in the Baltic Sea in Finland, living in the old post office that was converted in to an artist residence. My purpose was to compose and collect natural sounds for the project. I returned to the island in January 2015 to further compose and collect, this time the sound world of the Nordic winter. In summer of 2015 I divided my time living in Kemiönsaari and the small lighthouse island of Bengtskär at the Baltic Sea where I filmed and recorded natural sounds.

    Kaiku is an ongoing project which will be completed in 2017. The first part of the project, is a book titled Kaiku.”

    Contact Milla here

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    Sara Blaedel – Interview

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 19th August 2015
  • Sara2

    Continuing our Nordic literature week, Nordophile has been speaking with the hugely successful Danish author, Sara Blaedel. Sara Blaedel’s interest in story, writing, and especially crime fiction was nurtured from a young age, long before Scandinavian crime fiction took the world by storm. Despite a struggle with dyslexia, books gave Sara a world in which to […]




    Continuing our Nordic literature week, Nordophile has been speaking with the hugely successful Danish author, Sara Blaedel.

    Sara Blaedel’s interest in story, writing, and especially crime fiction was nurtured from a young age, long before Scandinavian crime fiction took the world by storm.

    Despite a struggle with dyslexia, books gave Sara a world in which to escape when her introverted nature demanded an exit from the hustle and bustle of life.

    Publishing ultimately led Sara to journalism, and she covered a wide range of stories, from criminal trials to the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I. It was during this time—and while skiing in Norway—that Sara started brewing the ideas for her first novel. In 2004 Louise and Camilla were introduced in Grønt Støv (Green Dust), and Sara won the Danish Crime Academy’s debut prize.

    Sara’s writing process is intense and she swears, “I am absolutely not fun to be with. And therefore everyone is happiest if I get it over with somewhere else.” That somewhere else is a summer house with huge windows affording a panoramic view, white terrace furniture, and a gas barbecue. In this seemingly tranquil environment, Sara formulates her brutal literary murder mysteries.

     

    Sara5

    Research also plays an important role in Sara’s writing process. She believes that the imagination has its best chance to thrive within the framework of reality. “I work tirelessly to learn all I can in order to create the settings.” So most of the geographical locations that constitute Louise Rick’s universe are imported from the real world. Her apartment is Sara’s old apartment in Copenhagen, and she frequents the same cafés that Sara does.

    An essential tool Sara uses for her research and preparation is a large whiteboard she’s named her “killing wall.” The killing wall is home to sketches of the story’s development, giving Sara the visual stimulation that best ignites her creativity. Sara also relies heavily on a host of experts who offer input and feedback on her novels. “I am so fortunate to have good helpers in those areas where I really need factual knowledge—whether in the Homicide Division, Forensics or Forensic Psychology.”

    Her hard work and determination have branded her the “Queen of Crime” in Denmark.

    Today, Sara lives north of Copenhagen with her family. She has always loved animals; she still enjoys horse riding and shares her home with her cat and Golden Retriever. When she isn’t busy committing brutal murders on the page, she is an ambassador with Save the Children and serves on the jury of a documentary film competition.

     

    Sara6

     

    Interview

    Having two successful parents within acting and journalism, was there a reason that the pull to express yourself in writing rather than acting was greater?

    Actually neither occupied me to any great extent when I was a child. I was mainly interested in horses but it is clear that all the words that surrounded me in my childhood and all the drive towards artistic expression and the journalism had an influence on me. Both of my parents always told me stories. My upbringing was full of stories. Especially my mother used her imagination when making up the bedside stories that she told me. But it was only in my adult life, and through various roundabout ways that I found my own way back to storytelling and found the will to pass them on.

     

    Denmark seems to be a culture hub right now, have you always felt the support from Denmark within the arts?

    I have always felt an incredible support from my Danish readers, booksellers, people in publishing and journalists. In Denmark, luckily a lot of books are read, and support for writers both directly and indirectly is really good through public libraries etc.

     

    Nordic noir is a genre, which has become synonymous with the Nordics. You started writing crime novels before this explosion, what was your motivation to go down the crime route?

    An uncontrollable curiosity combined with a lively and murderous imagination made it natural for me to start writing crime fiction.

     

    What can we expect from your latest offering “The Forgotten Girls”?

    Hopefully an entertaining and touching although scary story that will engage the reader and make the reader feel that my characters make for good company.

     

    You’ve just come back from ThrillerFest in New York, can you tell us a bit about your experience there?

    It is always wonderful to meet your colleagues and people from the business. An event like this helps to widen your own horizon, because it is so exciting to hear about other people’s way of approaching writing, to hear what they think and to learn from their experiences.

     

    The Forgotten Girls

    We are very excited by the latest release “The Forgotten Girl’s” which has once again seen Sara Blaedel explode onto the crime fiction scene, regardless if it is Nordic Noir, crime sells, we know that but it takes a good writer to keep the reader committed to the end of the book. And this Danish literary artist does just that, time and time again.

    “In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed”.

     

    forgtottengirls

    Photos credited to: Steen Brogaard

    Sarablaedel.com

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    Finnish author – Markus Ahonen

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 15th July 2015
  • Markus1_mv

    Nordophile spoke with the Finnish author – Markus Ahonen about his success with Nordic noir and children’s books and found out how his passion for writing allows him to cross two of the most opposite genres, with ease. Markus was born in 1972 in Helsinki, Finland and grew up in Martinlaakso, a suburb of Vantaa, known as […]




    Nordophile spoke with the Finnish author – Markus Ahonen about his success with Nordic noir and children’s books and found out how his passion for writing allows him to cross two of the most opposite genres, with ease.

    Markus was born in 1972 in Helsinki, Finland and grew up in Martinlaakso, a suburb of Vantaa, known as the childhood residence of famous Formula One drivers Mika Häkkinen, Mika Salo and Kimi Räikkönen and heavy metal band Amorphis.

    Markus1_mv

    After spending a year as an exchange student in Upstate New York and studying Communications and Finnish Literature in Turku, he has worked extensively as Editor and Editor-in-chief in local newspapers, as TV Script Writer for Finnish versions of game show Weakest Link and the Finnish modified version from shows Never Mind the Buzzcocks and They Think It’s All Over as well as writing TV sketch comedy.

    After moving to Ireland in 2006, Markus has worked as a flying foreign correspondent having reported to newspapers and magazines from several dozen countries around Europe and elsewhere.
    His first crime novel Meduusa (Medusa) was awarded with third prize in Kouvola Crime Literature Festival 10th anniversary novel contest in 2006. The second crime-themed novel Palava sydän (Burning Heart) was published in 2008. Short story collection My Hometown Named Love was published as an e-book in English in March 2012 and in Finnish as Kotipaikkani on rakkaus in October the same year. The updated new versions of Meduusa and Palava sydän were published as e-books in Finnish in late 2012.

    Markus widened his literary career by publishing a story collection for children Karkaileva bussi ja kaiken maailman ihmeelliset vempeleet (Runaway Bus and All Other Marvelous Gadgets) as an e-book and the story collection for children and adults, Haikarasaaren vauvasatama ja muita tarinoita (Heron Island Baby Harbour and other stories) both in November 2012.
    In late 2012 and early 2013, Meduusa reached continuously the #1 spot in iTunes Finland e-book top100 chart.
    Meduusa and Palava sydän have both reached the #1 spot in iTunes Finland Mysteries and Thrillers top10 chart often holding #1 and #2 spots at the same time together.
    Meduusa was chosen to Apple iBookstore Best of 2012 catalog Top Fiction category in December 2012 and again year later into their Best of 2013 catalog. This time in the category: Most sold: Fiction. It is one of the most sold e-books ever in Apple iTunes Finland. Medusa was published in English as an e-book in August, 2013.
    In March 2013, Karkaileva bussi ja kaiken maailman ihmeelliset vempeleet reached #1 in iTunes Finland Children’s literature chart.

    Medusaengl

    By the end of 2013, Apple iTunes Finland selected Markus and his works into their Bestselling Authors category. The category consists of 14 authors, of whom 9 are non-Finns and 5 Finns. Authors in addition to Markus in the category are: Jo Nesbø, Reijo Mäki, Nora Roberts, Miika Nousiainen, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Cassandra Clare, Liza Marklund, Donna Leon, Eve Hietamies, Patricia Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Anna-Leena Härkönen.

    Jäljet (Tracks), the third novel in crime-themed Isaksson series was published as an e-book in Finnish in April 2014.

    Markus has been a member of Irish Writers’ Union since 2012.

    Markus, a film, book, music, exercise and general knowledge enthusiast, lives in Malahide, County Dublin, Ireland with his son.

    Karkaileva Bussi

     

    Interview

    Was it a conscious decision to become an author or have you always written, so it was a natural progression?

    I liked writing already as a child and remember having a writing flow at age 7. Somewhere around age 13 or 14, I realised I was observing people, how they behave, what kind of personalities they are. Even the passers-by or people sitting in the buses. I started writing these observations as texts inside my head. So I think it was partially constructed inside of me. Also because it apparently has run in the family. My late Dad wrote, as did my Grandpa, his sister, my Greatgrandpa…
    I was also probably just another shy boy, who was concentrating more in communicating through writing. One addition to that was that at the time I felt the surroundings I grew up were somewhat rough. Writing, and the silent aim in it I told no one about, were that the better I will some day get in writing, the more I will have something of my own. Something that couldn’t be taken away from me in those rough surroundings.
    Still, I ended up studying other things first in college, but I soon realised I couldn’t escape what was in my heart. I switched to study communications, then continued with literature studies in university. While doing a career in journalism, I started writing book scripts. It was time. Also after seeing all kinds of people’s lives while working as a security guard during my years in uni. It all prepared me for this work.

     

    Which authors do you think have genuinely inspired you?

    The big influence for me already at very young was Finnish author Matti Yrjänä Joensuu and his writings. His Harjunpää detective series with its unique, touching language and humane way to depict life realistically were a big inspiration to me. Still are.

    Inside the crime genre, I’ve also been a big fan of Swedish writers Sjöwall-Wahlöö and their Beck series. When wanting to read a superb, smart crime novel, I go back to the fourth Beck novel, The Laughing Policeman. Another great example of inspiring structure for a crime novel is Swedish Håkan Nesser’s Hour of the Wolf. Truly inspiring.

    Outside the genre for other writings, authors such as Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, Harri Sirola, Jukka Pakkanen, Leena Lander, Mark Twain and Astrid Lindgren have inspired me very much.

     

    You have been successful in Nordic Noir to Children’s books, do you get a different satisfaction from writing each genre?

    Yes, I do. I read various genres of books and the same goes with writing. If the inspiration comes, it doesn’t always circulate around crimes and murders. Though at some point one TV producer looked through my script ideas and concluded: ”scripts don’t always have to include a murder”. So some kind of an attraction to the crime genre has always been there. But I get inspired well by other forms of art like movies and music or books. When watching The Thief of Bagdad (the 1940 version), I’d love to write a great fantasy story for children. Or when I watch one of my favourite films Cinema Paradiso, I do get inspired writing a melancholic love story. Also a variety of music does bring pictures in the head, bringing it to the need to write in different genres.
    Surely life in itself brings inspirational content with its reality to get the creative machine working to whatever genre it may be. I’m also a big fan of short stories myself. I’d love to write more of them. Great form of writing. Satisfaction from writing comes fast.

     

    Can you tell us a bit about the #1 best seller – Medusa and its protagonist Markku Isaksson.

    Medusa tells a story about several, hazy, staged-like murders, which are committed in a short time in Helsinki region in Finland. In their last days, victims have ended up in the middle of strange events. As if someone had wanted to rip them from their last pieces of sanity.
    It goes back to Helsinki and also the surroundings I grew up in Vantaa. Somehow depicting the rough atmosphere in the past and also today’s tougher work life and pressures in the society, including violent behaviour, bullying, toughening work life, strained relations, mental illnesses… Senior Crime Constable Markku Isaksson, who has recently moved back from a small town to the rough suburb he grew up, is investigating a perfect murder game.
    Isaksson is a humane thinker, who has not given up his humanity because of his rough past when young and other obstacles in his life such as being a caretaker of his dying father in his young adulthood. He tries to understand the often sad circumstances leading to crimes for some weaker, very much pressured people. At the same time he can’t stand those people, who just use others as stepping stones. Going through rough childhood in a concrete suburb has not made him numb with feelings. Just the opposite, as he has fought heavily not to become cynical or become a bully himself. Therefore he is more receptive to different feelings, such as his hunger for love, all the way that he is somehow vulnerable with it. During the Isaksson series, he eventually falls madly in love with his level-headed, humane and intelligent female colleague Nina Markkanen, his apparent female counterpart.

    Because of Isaksson’s past, and quiet resilient nature, he tends to walk things over in his long walks. He often stays up overnight with his papers and board drawings. Just to see the connections in investigations connect in his mind when the sun rises in the morning.

     

    What can readers expect from you over the next year and will Jäljet be available in English?

    Among other scripts I’ve been working on for a longer while, I’m right now concentrating on finishing the next Isaksson novel. I’ve played a script lottery. After deciding upon two partially written Isaksson scripts to finish, just the other one starting flowing smoothly. So I switched to that one. Natural selection, I believe. There are some partially written and several planned ones in the series. Hoping to get the first version well finished in the coming months.
    Hoping that in addition to the English e-version of Medusa, also Isaksson #2 Palava sydän (Burning Heart) and Isaksson #3 Jäljet (Tracks) and the follow-ups would some time get published in English. I get constantly queries from readers about these. But it’s not always up to me. I’m open to talks. We’ll see.

     

    You have lived in Ireland since 2006, what do you miss most about Finland?

    Family and friends and the magical summer. Luckily I get to go there once or twice a year to meet them. Usually for a bit longer time during the summer.
    When the summer in Finland is good, there’s nothing like it in the world. The nature with all its scents. Lakes, sea… Finns being cheerful after unwrapping themselves after the dark and harsh winter.
    The summer nights with the midnight sun. It’s magical when you get up at 3am and see the sun coming up slowly behind the horizon already. The short dark moment of the night in the south is over.
    Although, I do get inspired also by the September evening autumn air. When still in Finland, that pushed the button for the creative machine. Usually with a slight tone of melancholy, when the summer is over.

    Markusireland.wix.com

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    Yrsa Sigurðardóttir wins Best Scandicrime novel 2015

  • Sarah Surgey
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  • 23rd May 2015
  • yrsa-sigurdardottir-sitting-at-a-table

    Back in November 2014 I interviewed Yrsa Sigurðardóttir for Nordic Style Mag. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is a successful Nordic Noir author from Iceland, who a nordophile should definitely make space for on their bookshelf. I found this Nordic crime writer had a brilliant sense of humour, which was the complete opposite to her award winning dark […]




    Back in November 2014 I interviewed Yrsa Sigurðardóttir for Nordic Style Mag. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is a successful Nordic Noir author from Iceland, who a nordophile should definitely make space for on their bookshelf.

    I found this Nordic crime writer had a brilliant sense of humour, which was the complete opposite to her award winning dark Icelandic crime novels.

    yrsa-sigurdardottir-sitting-at-a-table

    My hunch on how her success was going to grow into 2015 was right, as she has just been awarded the very prestigious Petrona Award 2015 for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. This was presented to her at the Bristol CrimeFest ceremony.

    The award was for her crime novel Brakið (Silence of the Sea) and was presented to her by legend Nordic crime writer Maj Sjöwall.

    See my interview below with Nordicstylemag which is a magazine any Nordophile should check out. It incorporates all the Nordic countries and showcases their fashion designers, street style and culture…..and a few book reviews.

     

    http://www.nordicstylemag.com/2014/11/yrsa-sigurdardottir-icelands-literary-queen/

    photo; Salomonssonagency

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