A few quick thoughts post-Finncon. First of all, speculative fiction is alive and well in Finland. Every panel I attended had good turn-out, and there was a lot of energy, despite some pretty stupid things being said by a few presenters. Prediction: if you tell people they won’t succeed and won’t make any money doing what they love, they won’t. Mika Waltari, Johanna Sinisalo, and Sofi Oksanen didn’t succeed and make money until they did, writing things that blew away not only the domestic audience, but also international readers. The comments from the keynote speakers, particularly Richard Morgan, were excellent, doing the opposite of what I described above: he not only gave concrete tips on successful writing, he was also generally encouraging of new authors.
Panel on Finnish Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comic Books:
While at Finncon I participated in a panel on literary exports with Irma Hirsjärvi, Toni Jerrman and Cheryl Morgan, moderated by Maria Säntti. My main message was that speculative fiction is not marginal literature in the English-speaking world, especially the United States, and that there is room for foreign authors who play the game.
What is the game? To get published, you write a great book that will have international appeal, prepare a query letter, synopsis, and sample translation in English, and send them to lots and lots of people you have access to through the contacts (or an agent) are constantly making because you’ve overcome your shyness for the sake of selling your book.
And for goodness sakes, use qualified native translators and editors. It matters.
Shameless self-promotion is encouraged! (It’s called advertising)
Some reaction to the panel (in Finnish).
Speculative Fiction Translation Seminar
Prior to Finncon, Burning Bridge Literary Agency hosted a translation seminar focused on speculative fiction and comics taught by yours truly and attended by Claire Saint-Germain (France), Kristian London (US), Alexandra Stang (Germany), Mattias Huss (Sweden), and Ave Leek (Estonia), all up-and-coming literary translators. The seminar was a great success–special thanks to the organizers, Maria Säntti, Terhi Hannula, and Annukka Vähäsöyrinki, as well as our special guests, cartoonist Joonas Lehtimäki and sci-fi author M.G. Soikkeli. Also Petteri Oja of Zum Teufel Press and the Turku Sarjakuvakauppa (“comic shop”) for letting us invade his shop on short notice.