Besides being an international author of four novels and a collection of short stories I’m also a Finnish and literature teacher at upper secondary school, both at national and IB system. Yet I used to be a school-hating punk rocker and a lost boy when I was young, and I’m pretty sure most of my teachers were quite sure that I would become a wretched misfit. Well: it was always one of my options but things turned out differently.
My latest novel Väärän kissan päivä (A Day of the Wrong Cat) was published in Finland a couple of months ago. It was to a great extent inspired by a rescue cat that jumped on my keyboard when I was writing its first pages. One could say that ex-stray cat jumped straight into the story.
Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is located in my home town Jyväskylä. When I was a child, this city used to be so magic, but later many of its magical places were destroyed by people who want to tear down everything old. The novel is my attempt to track down my home town’s old charm, or what there is left of it.
As in many of my literary works, Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is partly based on my dreams. Writing novels and making my readers dream my dreams is my best and only way to get rid of my haunting nightly visions…
Secret Passages in a Hillside Town is also my love letter to classic romantic movies directed by masters like Truffaut, Godard, Fellini, Antonioni (La Note is gorgeous) and Wong Kar Wai (I especially love 2046 and its soundtrack).
As a child, my favorite tv series was Sapphire and Steel. I loved its darkness. I don’t think Finnish tv ever broadcasted Doctor Who back in those days but the new Doctor Who series is one of my big present day favorites, and I can hardly wait to see the new female Doctor in action.
My godmother had red hair. Since then, I have loved red-haired women and ended up marrying one. When I saw Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan in Luther, it almost killed me. There is the same kind of dark and strong divineness in her as in Jeanne Moreau – and I have a special place in my heart for strong women who are ready to fight for their rights and take crap from no one.
I love hiking in the woods. Luckily, there are lot of woods to explore around the city of Jyväskylä where I live with my family.
I get bored and impatient very easily if I think someone or something is wasting my time.
I prefer to have conversations with intelligent women (even with those who are not red-haired…) over men because women are more often willing to talk about the deep, psychological questions of life and death.
Secret Passages in a Hillside Town by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen in published by Pushkin Press