Friday, September 9, 2022

Q&A with Antti Tuomainen

Photo by Ville Juurikkala



Antti Tuomainen is the author of the new novel The Rabbit Factor. His other books include The Man Who Died. He is based in Helsinki, Finland.


Q: What inspired you to write The Rabbit Factor, and how did you create your characters Henri and Laura?


A: I’ve written several dark comedies before this and they’ve all sprung from personal observations. In The Man Who Died I wanted to write a warmly funny dark crime story about death. In Little Siberia I wanted to write about faith and disbelief. 


The Rabbit Factor came about from a question I asked myself one evening when I was walking home from my office. What if there still was someone who insisted that the world should make sense and that everything should be logical? A bit later, insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen was born.


Laura came to be through two different avenues. I wanted Henri to meet someone who is his complete opposite and I wanted him to fall in love because love is something that he (nor any one of us, probably) can’t put in rational or logical terms, let alone mathematical ones.


Also, I love art, especially painting, and I wanted to use that in this book. So Laura became an artist (with a past) who ultimately makes Henri want to learn new things.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, in part, “Tuomainen neatly skewers the ‘positive team synergies’ of today’s corporate world as his hero, armed with the rabbit’s broken ear, sets out to solve ‘a perfect equation’ of love and money. Full of refreshing wit and wisdom, this comic departure from the usual Scandi noir is a treat.” What do you think of that description?


A: I’m grateful, to be honest. It’s wonderful when a book is understood the way I intended. 


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Both, actually. I tend to write a short synopsis, around three to four pages, before I start writing a book. So, I roughly know where I begin, and some of the things that happen, and where I end.


However, I must say that things always, always change while writing. Sometimes the changes are big, sometimes smaller. And sometimes I only know after writing the entire story how it should be written. I’ve scrapped almost entire manuscripts: in one instance, I only kept the prologue, and rewrote everything else. (It was worth it.)


And there are always surprises: something you thought would be good just doesn’t work, then something much better than planned appears. Also, I’ve learned that I have to write to know what I really need to write. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope it gives something to think about and warms the heart while being a suspenseful, entertaining, fun read. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m just now finishing up The Rabbit Factor trilogy. The Beaver Theory is the name of the novel and will be published here in Finland in October. In English, in the US, the next book in the trilogy is The Moose Paradox, and I’ve just gone through the proofs.


I’m also writing things for television. It’s still a bit of a secret so I can’t say what it is, but I can say that I’m quite busy with it. 


Q:  Anything else we should know?


A: I’m happy to say that The Rabbit Factor feature film project is making great progress in Hollywood. Steve Carell has been attached to play the lead, with Amazon Studios and Mandeville Films producing, and with the script being written as we speak. Very exciting times.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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