The author Mirjam Lohi answers HLA’s questions.
The Secret of the Rose (2019) was the second book in the Mrs Suominen Arranges series. Could you tell us a little more about the main character? How did you come up with Mrs Suominen and how did she become a book series?
Sointu Suominen loves her family and interior design. After her second child was born she came up with the idea of not returning to her job as a psychologist at the municipal health-care centre. Instead, she educated herself to be an estate agent and started her own business. As she loves people and their problems she adopted a holistic approach in her customer service. Originally, I came to think of Sointu’s character when we were home-hunting six years ago and attended a massive number of open houses. Like Sointu, I love interior design, family life and tea drinking – and I fight my battles in order to accomplish something important with my small home based “business” (=writing). After two serious books I wanted to look at my efforts with humour, i.e. to write something hilarious and just to enjoy.
Your novels are not typical gloomy crime or detective stories. Mrs Suominen is a loveable, funny, slightly scattered character. Her husband and neighbours are also pictured as rather comical types of people. How do you see it yourself: are your books more of a cozy detective genre, or do you intend to picture characters similar to us, who are simply trying to find some excitement in their everyday routines?
I would not call these books detective stories at all, even though Mrs Suominen tries to solve “mysteries” and I must admit that Alexander McCall Smith`s Mma Ramotswe books have some influence to the original idea. Rather, Mrs Suominen Arranges series is psychological (= hopefully wise!) “mama-lit” – à la another inspirational writer, Liane Moriarty. And yes: Sointu Suominen surely tries to find excitement in her everyday routines (plus she is quite nosy).
Your books deal a lot with family life, the complexity of the relationship in a marriage, misunderstandings between partners, jealousy, even love that simply dies out for no particular reason. Why are these topics so important to you? Do you think that the society nowadays is brave enough to openly talk about things such as being unsatisfied with one’s marriage or family?
Overall, I am writing about relationships. My first novel was about mother-child and second about father-child relationships. Thus, the next to examine were love affairs and marriages. As the subject is so vast, one book would not have been enough. It had to be a series. I surely hope that the society is brave enough to talk about anything that is true and really happening.
Your novels are a real source of cheerfulness, light and positivity, the thoughts and the decisions of characters often make the reader laugh out loud – mostly because there is something very familiar and comforting in them and the way they think. Who do you think is the reader of your books?
Anybody who is able to laugh. Mrs Suominen novels are not the best choice for humourless people.
What are your plans for the near future? What can the readers expect? The Secret of the Rose ends in a mystery, so perhaps we will hear more about Mrs Suominen?
Yes, the entity calls for at least one more book. By so far I have a plan and have started to write. The working title is The Riddle of the Plummug.
Finally, a version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, used by the legendary French journalist Bernard Pivot at the end of every broadcast of his literary television talk show Apostrophes.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
Häivy! Get lost!
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Insightful books, music, discussions, lush gardens, nature, peaceful tearooms and other interiors
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
Rain on a tent.
What sound or noise do you hate?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Thank you for making people laugh!