KATI HIEKKAPELTO: THE HUMMINGBIRD IS ABOUT RACISM, IMMIGRATION AND HONOR
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Kati Hiekkapelto showed her talent in the last few years. She became a famous writer in her home country of Finland. Her novel The Hummingbird was released on English by Arcadia Books on December 23 2014. As you know Land of Books loves to present foreign language authors, so we are sure you will learn a lot more about Kati after you read the following lines.
– Kati, Give us some insight about The Hummingbird?
– Young girl is found dead from the remote jogging path with an Aztec amulet in her pocket, shot by a shotgun, straight to head. At the same time another young girl, Kurdish, calls 911 because she is afraid that her dad is going to kill her.
Anna Fekete starts a new job as a crime investigator after being several years in uniform. The beginning is not easy for her. The cases, she has investigate, are hard, she has to face racist and misogynist attitudes from her colleagues, especially her partner Esko Niemi is a difficult and nasty person. Anna´s past begins to haunt her. She suffers from severe sleeping problems and panic attacks. When more bodies with amulets in their pockets are found, it seems obvious that there is a serial killer out there.
For me The Hummingbird is a book about racism, immigration and honor related violence. For readers I wanted it to be an exciting crime story with strong characters where you can find, if you want, deeper layers and something more to think about than just “who is the murderer”.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– It was just an idea at first. I wanted to write a crime novel where the protagonist has an immigrant background.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Perhaps to believe that I can do it. Writing is lonely work and back then I had no editor, nobody to read the text. I lost my self-confidence many times.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is she close to someone from your real life?
– Anna Fekete is 30 years old police woman. She is ethnic Hungarian from ex-Yugoslavia and she has lived in Finland since she was 9. She escaped the Yugoslavian wars with her mother and older brother to Finland. She is, or at least she seems to be, well adjusted to the Finnish society, she speaks fluent Finnish, she has education and work, but anyway she feels that she does not belong anywhere properly. She feels herself alien.
Anna is not an example woman. She smokes too much and drinks beer, she has one night stands instead of regular relationship, she may look strong but there is lots of vulnerability in her. Sometimes she can be annoyingly uncertain about herself.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I wrote The Hummingbird about year and a half. The publisher contacted me within few weeks after I had sent the manuscript, which was amazing. A year after that the book was in my hands and in the shops and libraries.
– Do you have others literary works?
– I write column to one newspaper and lyrics for my punk band (I´m the singer). I´ve done short stories and now I work on a theater play.
– Who are you?
– Middle aged feminist punker pheasant.
– What are your writing habits?
– I mainly write from late morning till afternoon. Every day, if it’s possible. No matter if I feel inspired or not.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– I am! The Hummingbird was 17th sold book in Finland the year it came out, 2013, and the sequel The Defenseless was 10th last year. This is absolutely astonishing for such a beginner as I am!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I wish that good books would talk to themselves. But there is so huge amount of books on the market that some promotion has to be done. I take part to many kinds of literary events, give interviews, do some Twitter shit (which I don´t like much) etc. I also have to say no sometimes. Main thing is to be able to write. If I would go everywhere they ask me, I wouldn´t have time for writing anymore. No promotion or publicity is worth that!
– When we will see your next novel?
– The sequel The Defenseless is coming out in English in September 2015. The third Anna Fekete novel will come out here in Finland in spring 2016.
– You’ve got a rifle in your hands at your official web page. What is the symbol of that picture?
– It is a shotgun, not a rifle. Well, I don´t see it as a symbol of anything. I hunt with my guns (I have two). It is a simple tool for me. A tool to get fresh and natural food. (I hate meat industry!) But combined with a wedding dress a shotgun makes a powerful image. Everybody is allowed to make his own interpretation. I do some performance art in my wedding dress.
– What may you tell about the island of Hailuoto, the place that you are living in?
– It´s relatively large island in Bothnic Gulf but only with 1000 regular inhabitants. We have all basic services and ferry connection to mainland. Pine forests, sandy soil, swamps and sea are the main landscapes. Forests are full of berries, mushroom and game. I love to go to the nature and be part of it. We have an active artist community here and so a lot of stuff together.
Feel welcome to The Bättre Folk music and literary festival next summer!
– Do you have some daily job or you are just writing?
– Not anymore. I used to work as a special needs teacher, but it was impossible to do two demanding jobs at the same time. I wanted to write. I had to quit teaching. But I´m happy that I have an interesting profession. I can always go back if I get too hungry 🙂
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– I have absolutely no imagination for this one now. Pfff. I wish I could make a really intelligent question and give an astonishing answer, so what are you cooking today? If there is perch available, perch will it be.
Take a look at her book