I was born in late spring, almost summer. I have never believed in astrology—but by all accounts, I’m a typical Gemini. Both my personality and my literary work are characterized by certain dualisms.
My body of work can be divided into two as follows.
BOOKS WRITTEN before and after significant or life-changing events:
- • Kallio. I was born and grew up in Kallio, a traditional working-class district of Helsinki of factories, other industrial establishments, and apartments for workers. Kallio has since developed into a trendy neighborhood for students and creative professionals in particular.
I wrote my first novel in Kallio. It took me seven years to complete the book, and I ran out of money many times during that time. The final version of my debut novel, Sonia O. Was Here, was written in three different apartments, as our rental homes were sold from under my boyfriend and me.
The book came out in 1981. With the money I earned from the book, I bought my first apartment, which was located close to my childhood home. I moved from Kallio to the countryside in 1984.
- • Children. I have two daughters. I had my firstborn in 1989.
- • Mother’s death. My mother passed away in 1992. I wrote about her death and the last years of her life in Skin, which will be published in English in early 2022.
- • Translations. The first translation of my works came out in 1992. My books have since been translated into more than 20 languages.
- • Greece. I have lived part of the year on Crete since 1993.
- • Therapy studies. Becoming a therapist was originally my plan B: for a while, it seemed that my first book would never be published, and I wanted to help others with their crushed dreams.
When I was in my fifties, I happened to see an advertisement about a four-year training program at the University of Helsinki. I made an intuitive decision: I applied and didn’t tell a soul. I graduated as a therapist in 2015.
- • HSP. In 2014, my interest piqued, I attended a university lecture about being a highly sensitive person. Listening to that lecture, many pieces of my life suddenly began to make sense and fell into place: I realized I’m a highly sensitive person.
I was writing a book at the time, but I had to take a break from that manuscript because I felt an urge to write about being a highly sensitive person. A lifetime of experiences, feelings, and memories poured out of me. The overriding feeling was great relief.
That book, My Life as a Deer, will come out in English in 2023.
BASED ON STYLE and content, my body of work—prose, poetry, and nonfiction—is characterized by dualisms in the following ways:
- • Use of fact and fiction, combining autobiographical aspects with fictional material.
- • Polemics and poetics: a desire to create both social thought and aesthetic experiences.
- • Combining conscious writing with subconscious flows of material; experimenting with various writing techniques.
- • Otherness and likeness: conscious gender provocation on the one hand; a desire to join the canon of “good literature,” to become part of the establishment, on the other hand. This also involves literary idols, literary mothers and fathers who complement one another.
- • Private and public, combining intimate aspects with universal material.
- • Pathos and humor, intuition and intellect.
- • Flesh and spirit: themes related to physicality in my works and sensuality in my language and writing on the one hand; content and a style of writing connected to logical thinking, research, and reflection on the other hand.
- • The ideal of professional writing; defiance and resolve, a passion to question the conventions of being a writer.
- • An academic approach and freedom. I’m a university graduate, and my body of work involves many academic features and techniques. As a writer, I feel that I’m a researcher of literature who also seeks to break through boundaries and challenge conventional ideas of writing and literature.