Back to America


The decision to write my first thriller novel was born in the United States. It was hardly a coincidence. My neighbor, who worked in a demanding government job, was writing a book at nights. My tennis buddy, who designed rockets for Elon Musk, ran a frozen yogurt bar on the side. The American workaholic attitude grew on me, and I thought that I too could have two jobs at the same time.

My first ideas (which eventually grew into a book called Roihu) were a young woman burning in a tree and a clash of social classes. I came up with them as I looked out into our front yard and pondered the worrying trends in the US.

However, I set my first two books mostly in Finland. It was fun to find suitable buildings, tunnels and towers in Helsinki to serve as settings for a fast-paced story.

In my third novel Kotka (The Eagle), I return to the U.S. capital Washington D.C. and its suburbs.

The first and most important reason for the change of setting can be found in the political situation in the United States, which I follow closely. Particularly concerning from the perspective of Finland and Europe is the growing isolationism, where the U.S. is turning inward and questioning its responsibility for global security. This setup worked well as a starting point for a new Leo Koski story – and furthermore, after the events of the previous book, Leo had a good reason to shake the dust of Helsinki off his shoes.

I also wanted to do something fresh. Over the course of two books, the characters in my stories had already explored many of Helsinki's mystical locations and political hot spots. I wanted to offer something new and that meant a change of location. Washington provides a perfect setting for a large scale thriller.

The project also offered a good reason to return to Washington. Last summer, I traveled with my family to our old home turf. During the day, we familiarized ourselves together with the locations featured in my upcoming book. At night, I drove around the city alone. This time I didn't get to visit the White House, but it's a familiar place to me from my past life.

From a commercial standpoint, it may not have been wise to set my new book abroad. Finnish readers often prefer stories that take place in Finland. Literary agents like to sell Nordic exoticism abroad, and for foreign publishers, it's often an unfamiliar idea to buy a Finnish author's work that nonetheless takes place somewhere else.

But this was the book I had to write. I think the enthusiasm transmitted well onto the book's pages. If I were asked which of my books I'd like to recommend to a new reader, I would absolutely suggest The Eagle.

Kotka (The Eagle) is published in Finland 25.4.2024.