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Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. She wrote her first stories at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes. The main characters in these early tales were elephants, elves and little girls, so she's moved on a little from that. Kati worked as a local private detective between 1979 and 1982, and solved many serious crimes committed by her neighbours. By the age of twelve she had read all Agatha Christie's novels, and was sure that her mother is going to poison her. In 1984 she had a bad hairdresser experience and became a punker. She's been punker, environmental and human rights activist since then.Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyvaskyla. The subject of her final thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools. She went on to work as a special-needs teacher for immigrant children. Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books Kolibri (The Hummingbird) was published in Finland by Otava in 2013 and Suojattomat (The Defenceless) in 2014. To date, they have been translated into seven languages. The Hummingbird was shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK in 2015 and The Defenceless won the prize for the best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year 2014. The Defenceless was also one of the top ten bestselling books in Finland last year, across all genres. She lives and writes in her 200-year-old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis. Writing seems fairly easy, after all that.
Below is a Q&A with this author:
1. What was the inspiration for The Exiled?
Anna's hometown in Serbia, Magyarkanizsa; I was drawn to the Roma minority situation and an opportunity to explore Anna’s own troubled past.
2. You move from Finland to Serbia for this novel, yet the setting remains as atmospheric and vivid described as its predecessors. Do you know the country well?
I don’t know the whole country well, but the Hungarian parts in North Serbia I do. I lived in Magyarkanizsa for a year and visit there annually.
3. Once again the refugee crisis is a theme. Is this something that is close to your heart?
Refugees and migration has been close to my heart for over 20 years due to my studies at university, my work as a special needs teacher, and my personal life, too. I started writing about refugees long before the most recent crisis, and it seems fitting to continue, particularly as Anna was effectively a refugee herself when she moved to Finland.
4. You experienced the crisis first hand while you were researching the book. Can you describe what you saw, and what you felt?
I went three times to Serbia to do research for the book. The first was a year before the crisis, the second only couple days after the Hungarian-Serbian border was closed and wired, when Hungarian police had shot refugees with tear gas (I was able to get in through a little checkpoint 20 km east from the main crossing point) and most of the refugees had left towards the Croatian border. So I effectively saw the 'aftermath'. But I got first hand information and insights into how it was and felt when all those people began to appear. It was very interesting, but most of all shocking and sad.
5. Anna’s own family is implicated in a travesty of justice, making this story more personal, and we learn much more about her character. Why did you choose this storyline?
I knew I wanted to write more about Anna's past when I finished my first book, The Hummingbird. It felt more like a necessity to me than something I had chosen to do, and it provides some interesting insights in Anna as a character and, of course, her motivations.
6. The pace of this book is more languorous, yet the nail-biting tension is maintained throughout. How hard was it to achieve this?
I wanted to write a book that was a bit 'slower' than my previous two. In fact, I want each book to differ a little bit in pace, atmosphere, structure, etc. It makes writing more interesting. This time I decided that because Anna was having a summer vacation, I wanted the text reflect (among many other things) – the hot, relaxed Balkan summer days. How hard it was to keep a tension? Hmm. Writing is always hard.
7. Do you plot your books or do you let the story develop as you write?
For me, a story develops best while writing.
8. Tell us about your writing day.
Wake up, coffee, out for a walk or a run, shower, and then my desk. I work for couple hours, take a break, do some stretching and then I have lunch. Then it’s back to my desk for a couple more hours of work.
This would be ideal for me; however, the truth is that social media, emails and other work (columns, etc.) take sometimes too much time. Because of translations I have to travel quite a lot, too. It is amazing to have these opportunities, but it can be stressful too. I can’t write in airplanes and hotel rooms and it takes quite a time to get back to writing after hectic journeys. But I’m not complaining! If deadline is near I work couple more hours in the evening. And at night.
9. Has your international success come as a surprise?
Yes it has! Totally! I wrote my first book for me, to prove to myself that I could do it. Everything since has been an unexpected revelation.
10. What’s next?
Anna Fekete number four. I will say no more…
A compelling, assured and gutsy crime thriller set in Serbia among the refugee crisis. Anna returns to the borders of Hungary and Serbia for a holiday, there she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous investigation with chilling links to her own family. Kati Hiekkapelto allows information to wait, just out of sight, and then releases it to swirl, linger and provoke. Each new surprise ensured my opinion of Anna altered as I read, my attention was ensnared further, and I became completely absorbed by this tension filled read. With red herrings slipping through the story line, and an absolutely fascinating location, ‘The Exiled’ is a gripping and stimulating read. ~ Liz Robinson
When an old man is run over and killed by a Hungarian au pair, Finnish police investigator Anna Fekete soon realizes that there is more than meets the eye ... and a lot more at stake. The international, bestselling Anna Fekete series continues... ***Shortlisted for the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year*** ***Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel*** ***Winner of the Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year*** 'Tough and powerful crime fiction' Publishers Weekly 'Dark-souled but clear-eyed, Kati Hiekkapelto's edgy, powerful novels grip your throat and squeeze your heart. Addictive' A J Finn, author of The Woman in the Window 'A gut-punch of a book' Metro ------------------------ When an old man is found dead on the road - seemingly run over by a Hungarian au pair - police investigator Anna Fekete is certain that there is more to the incident than meets the eye. As she begins to unravel an increasingly complex case, she's led on a deadly trail where illegal immigration, drugs and, ultimately, murder threaten not only her beliefs, but her life. Anna's partner Esko is entrenched in a separate but equally dangerous investigation into the activities of an immigrant gang, where deportation orders and raids cause increasing tension and result in desperate measures by gang members - and the police themselves. Then a bloody knife is found in the snow, and the two cases come together in ways that no one could have predicted. As pressure mounts, it becomes clear that having the law on their side may not be enough for Anna and Esko. Chilling, disturbing and terrifyingly believable, The Defenceless is an extraordinary, vivid and gripping thriller by one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction. ------------------------ 'Finnish Kati Hiekkapelto deserves her growing reputation as her individual writing identity is subtly unlike that of her colleagues' Barry Forshaw, Financial Times 'There is something fresh and slightly subversive about Hiekkapelto's writing in The Defenceless. there is something of that restless energy here, a nod to anti-authoritarian and countercultural ideas that makes the novel stand out from the pack' Doug Johnstone, The Big Issue 'A taut and provocative thriller with a raging social conscience ... cements Kati Hiekkapelto's position as one of Scandi-noir's most exciting and important new voices' Eva Dolan 'Compelling, assured and gutsy ... a gripping and stimulating read' LoveReading 'An edgy and insightful chiller with a raw and brooding narrative. Skilfully plotted and beautifully written, Hiekkapelto has given us an excellent and suspenseful crime novel' Craig Robertson 'A beautifully written and many-layered mystery novel that illuminates the dangers of prejudice, while still providing a major thrill ride' Mystery Scene Magazine 'A writer willing to take risks with her work' Sarah Ward 'Seriously good! The taut elegance of the writing brilliantly contrasts the grit of the subject matter. Kati Hiekkapelto is the real deal' Anya Lipska
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