Helsinki Book Fair was held this year from 27th to 30th October. I visited it on Saturday and had a great time!
I spent around five hours at the fair, my time almost evenly split between free roaming and listening to interviews. I didn’t buy anything for myself this time (except for some candy) but I got a few Christmas presents for other people.
The first interview I listened to was with several children and teen’s authors who had been nominated for a Nordic literature award (Marry Ailonieida Somby, Sanna Tahvanainen, Jenny Lucander, Tomi Kontio, Elina Warsta and Bolatta Silis-Høegh). I only caught the last half an hour or so, but it was interesting to hear about their thoughts on what’s important for children’s books and if there are any similarities and/or differences between Nordic countries. They all agreed that nature is a fairly common theme and that the differences are mostly in the details.
After that I roamed around for a few hours and ate a sandwich to keep me going for the rest of the day. Very exciting, so moving on.
Next I listened to the end of an interview with Siri Pettersen, the author of the Norwegian series Ravneringene (eng: Ravenrings) that consists of Odinsbarn (Odin’s Child), Råta (Decay) and Evna (Might). She talked about her childhood in northern Norway where there was little else to do that play RPGs and the like — which ultimately led to her becoming a writer. She also talked about how in her series there is magic but no one ever refers to it as magic. It simply is. I haven’t read these books but they sound great, so I’ll definitely get them at some point.
Once the interview was done, the stage was taken over by a panel that discussed the journey of a manuscript into a published book. The time slot was fairly short, only 30 minutes, so it barely scratched the surface but it was still interesting. The panelists were from different positions in different Finnish publishing houses (Johanna Laitinen from S&S, Satu-Maria Rastas from Tammi, Jenni Noponen from Gummerus, and Nona Ratia from Otava) and everyone shared some knowledge of their area of expertise. For example when do they start marketing new books and how early on the illustrated gets to know the book. In case you were wondering, the answer to both is very early!
Next I jumped from writing and reading into something quite different: charisma. The short presentation talked about what charisma is and how people observe it, and also how to appear more charismatic. The speaker, Lorenz Backman, also mentioned how much people are influenced by what they see instead of what they know. For example he mentioned a study according to which pain medication helped more if it was given by a doctor in a white lab coat with a stethoscope than if the doctor was in “civilian” clothing. Don’t know which studies these were and how reliable they are, but it was nevertheless interesting to listen to.
I was supposed to listen to a panel about intuition next but after listening to it for a few minutes, I decided it wasn’t for me and moved on to listen to the ending of a presentation about space. I didn’t catch much of it but Hannu Karttunen talked about why we might not have found life in space yet and how people might be expecting something too advanced in any case. He also mentioned the SETI@home program in which ordinary people can “lend” their computers to help filter the data gathered from space.
The final interview I listened to didn’t go exactly as planned either. It was supposed to be about a book called Tapiiri sohvapöydän alla (Tapir under the coffee table) so the interviewee was to be the author, Sesse Koivisto. Unfortunately he couldn’t attend and they interviewed Sanna Hellström, the managing director of Korkeasaari Zoo, instead. It was still a fun panel and both Sanna and the interviewer clearly knew the book well. The book tells some of the wild, crazy and furry adventures that Sesse had while he lived near the zoo and helped take care of the animals. Tigers, wolves, tapirs and raccoons are only an example of the animals that got to live with him. Apparently you should never let a raccoon into your house. Sanna did mention that these days animals from the zoo are never given to a human to care for, except in the most unusual of circumstances.
With that, I called it a day!
Did you by any chance attend Helsinki Book Fair 2016? If yes, what was your favorite part? If not, have you been to any other books fairs recently or are you planning on attending some in the future?