Name Markus Ahonen
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Finland, from the city of Vantaa just outside of Helsinki. I grew up in Martinlaakso suburb, where Formula One drivers Mika Häkkinen, Mika Salo and Kimi Räikkönen lived in their youth and heavy metal band Amorphis comes from.
I have lived in Malahide, North County Dublin in Ireland for nine years.
A little about your self ie your education Family life etc
I studied Communications in college and Finnish Literature in the University of Turku in Finland. I have worked as a Freelance Journalist, Editor, Editor-in-Chief, TV Script Writer and since 2006 as a flying correspondent around Europe and outside (including Middle East) based in Ireland.
I’ve written three crime-themed Isaksson series novels Medusa, Palava sydän (Burning Heart) and Jäljet (Tracks), short story collection My Hometown Named Love and two children’s collections Karkaileva bussi ja kaiken maailman ihmeelliset vempeleet (Runaway Bus and All Other Marvelous Gadgets) and Haikarasaaren vauvasatama ja muita tarinoita (Heron Island Baby Harbour and other stories).
I’m a single dad and live with my teenage son. Life is full of creativity, different forms of art and culture to be consumed, exercise, soccer, general knowledge to catch.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m writing a novel I’ve been working on on and off for over 3,5 years. While I’m letting it simmer, I just recently started another novel that I’ve been thinking of for years. It just recently ‘clicked’ and became clear after a tragic real life event happened to someone I knew. The writing is moving well.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I liked writing already as a child and remember having a writing flow at age 7. 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.
The big influence for me already at that time was 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.
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.
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.
I started working as a journalist already during my studies and ended up in career cycle working in editorial management around the turn of the millennium. Around that time I started writing scripts for television.
I had written some shorter texts and sketches over the years, but only started writing my first full-length prose scripts after the turn of the millennium. My seventh script, crime novel Medusa, was finally published in 2006 in Finland.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I probably was a writer already when I did journalism, but I could call myself as a real writer or author only after having a book published. Still, after the first novel I felt like a rookie. Using a word ‘author’ or ‘writer’ still sometimes seems odd or funny.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was loosely inspired by a combination of my own experiences of the atmosphere in the surroundings I grew up, things happening to people I knew, a serious assault I as a random passer-by ended up witnessing in the late 1990’s, things I saw when working as a security guard during my uni times as well as the bad atmosphere in in some places I had observed for a long time. One night in mid-November 2005 it clicked. I wrote it in only two months.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
The language has changed a bit. Medusa is bit more plain and faster than two other Isaksson novels. In Burning Heart and Tracks I’ve tried to put more meat on characters’ bones, create more versatile language and create humane, but realistic atmosphere. I’ve also written a short story collection My Hometown Named Love and two collections for children. MHNL has been thanked for its psychological atmosphere through first person narrative.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Medusa popped in my mind in the middle of the night. Coincidentally it fit well with some parts in Greek mythology. Publisher thought Burning Heart fit better than the not-so-attractive work title Test Animal Park. Tracks was there from the beginning, giving a chance to different interpretations, physical and mental. I felt My Hometown Named Love gathered it all together in the important title story and its content. Two other collection names gathered the stories some way together under a certain theme.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d like people to stop and think. Think with your own brains. Don’t go with the crowds, especially in bad things. Hopefully that short or longer stop will clarify something. Especially for younger people, but could be useful for adults also. There are different angles to life. Not just yours.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Surroundings are realistic. I tend to use places I know or have been to. I’ve also done trips with a camera to document the places before writing. I once had my sister and her friend prepare me a report about certain places in Helsinki when I was in Ireland.
Certain events could be realistic. Some of my books have had events that became hauntingly true after the novels were published.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Characters could have parts of me, my friends, people I know or knew or then ficticious. Or any combination of them in any percentage. Sometimes fictional characters take over and start to live their own life.
There are real life events and strong feelings depicted in some stories and novels.
In Burning Heart, there’s a depiction of a Helsinki main police station bomb explosion in the summer of 1995. How protagonist detective Isaksson had experienced it himself in his past in his shared student apartment nearby. That was how I had felt about that same event in the same place in real life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Harjunpää series by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu (To Steal Her Love being the best), Kaksi kaupunkia (Two Cities) by Harri Sirola, Raymond Carver’s prose poems, Tummien perhosten koti (The Home of the Dark Butterflies) by Leena Lander, Juna San Pellegrinoon (Train to San Pellegrino) by Jukka Pakkanen, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren.
I go back to them again and again.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have two books at the moment on my desk: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen and the recent Finlandia Prize winner They Know Not What They Do by Jussi Valtonen.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Right now I’m reading all Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s books one by one after reading some years ago. The Rabbit Back Literature Society was published in English recently.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
There are so many projects waiting to be written. Two projects that have some semi-autobiographical elements, but are still fictional works. Sometimes one project takes over and passes another one.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Right now I feel different forms of social media and some great people in there are giving valuable, motivating feedback. Also friends and colleagues, who are supportive. All readers in general as well as book bloggers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. Probably it’s not the easiest, but surely gives life and work enormous content and motivation. Although it is necessary to obtain some other educational/work background, if you’re only starting. Gives security. I still do journalism. Good combination also to stay in touch with real life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Apart from accidentally (again) predicting something tragic happening, this time to someone I knew, as a book I can’t tell. Readers could maybe answer that better. Although the reviews have been generally very good.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I remember stories popping in my head at age 7. It had probably something to do with being read a lot of fairytales and stories when I was a child and brought to theatre to see children’s plays. This all stimulated imagination.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m writing at the moment in Finnish. Also, in talking about upcoming writings in more detail or sharing, I have become slightly superstitious.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
In bigger, more versatile scripts it can be challenging to keep it all together. The structure, if the time line is long, such as 40 years and if there are many characters.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
The late Matti Yrjänä Joensuu. He created a realistic atmosphere, unique style language and humane depiction of world and people, even the bad ones. In all the pessimism his books are very touching.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
When published in Finland, I have done traveling to different cities to give media interviews. Less lately for various reasons. Social media has shrunk the world.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For original print books the publisher has decided upon the Finnish designers. For e-books Piia Leino from Finland for My Hometown Named Love and Tatiana Vila from El Salvador for others.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Medusa was written fast, efficiently, probably with less trickering with language. Some of the ones after have had more tricky situations such as keeping the drama together, cutting the too slow parts. Bigger and harder problems and jams have only come up with the books that are yet to be published. In bigger works I tend to need more simmering breaks to get parts to click.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
You learn something every time. The routine, hoping not to write too excessive language, trying to make certain plot paths clear to the end.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, write. Try to come up with your own thing or voice, whatever it may be. Absorb the world and its inspiring content. Not just books. Them too.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Enjoy the books. Give feedback, ask questions. It’s nice to hear, if something has made you think and stays in your mind. What is it? What touched you?
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I can’t remember exactly. There were so many of them in my childhood home. Anything from Mark Twain’s works to Astrid Lindgren or story collections and fairytales. One early story I remember was about Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple trees around American content.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: Smartly imaginative, maybe even odd or mad dark humour. Use of sarcasm and irony in right places. Language games. Corny jokes.
Cry: In addition to certain things in life, well-built movies or books. Characters experiencing things you can adapt to. Not rom-coms, but rather realistic stories, which don’t necessarily end well.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
My Dad. He died 20 years ago, only when I was taking my first steps as a journalist. He had worked in the other end of the same industry and did some creative writing himself, as did his father, his aunt, his grandfather… We’d have a lot to talk about now. I’d also introduce him to his grandson and my niece and nephew he never got to meet.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Haven’t thought about it, but could be: This is the hidden entrance to hazardous waste disposal unit. This text will destroy itself after reading in 20 seconds.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I’m into movies, listen to a variety of music, I go to the gym, do runs, really long walks, follow soccer, play occasionally some (I recently coached kids’ soccer for two years). I do a lot of reading, not necessarily just books. It could be browsing archives and articles on internet about music or movie trivia, crime cases, past sports, olympics, history, different cultures and countries.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore, Dead Man’s Shoes by Shane Meadows, The Thief of Bagdad (1940 version), Four Friends by Arthur Penn, Seven Pounds by Gabriele Muccino (the script), City of Hope by John Sayles, Leon by Luc Besson. I watch nearly any movies directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jim Sheridan or Krzysztof Kieślowski. My all-time favourite TV show is Cracker (with Robbie Coltrane), especially the episode To Be a Somebody.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
Foods: Mexican, Greek, certain Finnish foods such as smoked salmon and casseroles. Middle-Eastern/Dutch shoarma.
Colors: Red, black.
Music: Alternative, classical, Finnish/classic rock, certain heavy metal, talented singer-songwriters in rock/folk.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I could be like a child and wish for anything, such as becoming an astronaut, I’d wish to become a screen writer, movie director or a composer. Something creative, working more in the background, not on stage.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website is:
I’m active on social media on Facebook author page and Twitter:
and sometimes write blog posts. I might revive this again:
Amazon Page http://www.amazon.com/Markus-Ahonen/e/B007JCA9X0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1428005935&sr=1-2-ent