As Red As Blood
Salla Simukka's Snow White Trilogy (or Lumikki as it translates and is published in Finnish) made history even before its final instalment was published in Finland. Tammi, the trilogy's Finnish publisher, released the first book, As Red as Blood, in February 2013, and book two, As White as Snow, in August 2013. Within the space of these six months, translation rights for the series had been sold to an impressive 40 territories in fiercely contested auctions. Meanwhile, the third instalment, As Black as Ebony, is scheduled for a spring 2014 release in her homeland.
Already an established and award-winning Finnish author (her first book was published over a decade ago at 21 years old) Simukka has undeniably fashioned a considerable entry point into the global market for herself with the telling of this traditional coming-of-age portrayal set to a gripping thriller-style plot. The dark and unforgiving Nordic winter also plays a major role in Simukka's story. Scenes describing blood seeping into immaculate expanses of snow and unforgiving low temperatures create a hauntingly beautiful world for Snow White to inhabit while capturing Finland's locations, culture and environment for an audience unfamiliar with its magnificence.
In shopping the Snow White trilogy abroad, Simukka's rights agent pitched the main character of Lumikki (which, unlike Snow White in English, is not unheard of as a first name in Finland) as 'Lisbeth Salander for a young adult audience".
And judging by the torrent of international interest and the rapid success of the trilogy thus far, it's extremely likely that this teenage -Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo' and her talented author will put Finland on the global YA Literary Map.
Salla Simukka was born in 1981 in Tampere, Finland. Winner of the 2013 Topelius prize (Finland's oldest prize in recognition of the best Finnish book for children and young people), she is an author of young adult fiction, a television screenwriter as well as a translator and author of juvenile fiction. Salla also works as a literary critic for several Finnish newspapers and is the associate editor at a literary publication for young people, LUKUFIILS. She now lives in Tampere with her husband and enjoys baking and running in her spare time.
As Red As Blood
The Five Mile Press
Author: Salla Simukka
Interview with Salla Simukka
Question: What inspired the idea of the Snow White Trilogy?
Salla Simukka: Actually it was the title. Or all the three titles. I first began thinking about writing a crime novel for young adults and then it hit me: As Red as Blood would be a perfect title for such a novel. After that I instantly knew that I would also have to have a book called As White as Snow and a third one called As Black as Ebony.
So the titles came first and then I wanted to use fairytale elements also. It was clear for me from the very beginning that I wouldn't be rewriting the story of Snow White or adding anything supernatural into the novel. But what I did want to do was to play a little game with the reader: Use bits and pieces the reader would recognize from the fairytale. Play with the common knowledge. Take advantage of the associations.
And let's face it: most fairytales are quite dark. Snow White is no exception. It is a story about fear and growing up and attempted murder and death. I think it is more of a crime story than a love story. I also believe that fairytales were the YA literature of their time. They deal with the same issues YA literature deals with today: becoming an adult, choosing your path, standing up against cruelness of the world, falling in love, finding your place, death and sorrow.
I was of course also intrigued about the possibility to use strong colours: red, white and black. They appear in many forms in the trilogy.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Salla Simukka: No, not really. I almost never use real people when I create my characters. They become the real people for me.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Salla Simukka: I believe that my way of writing is such. I like to write about many things and issues at the same time and have several layers in my books. That is also something I enjoy as a reader. Mostly it happens so that I have one or two main issues and the other ones come along the process, but nevertheless I see them as important as the main themes.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Salla Simukka: My inspirations comes from everywhere at the same time. I don't separate real life from fiction or art when it comes to inspiration. I think that the first, little idea for a book is like a magnet that pulls towards it everything that is needed: news, movies, songs, conversations, pictures, thoughts...
Question: The best thing about books is . . .
Salla Simukka: ... that they are magical in a way: every connections between a book and a reader is unique and at the best times they can achieve together something bigger.
Interview by Brooke Hunter