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18 Jun

Between dogs and rock music, let’s hear what this native Finn has to say. Meet Pamela Harju…


JR: Tell us about yourself, and how would you describe yourself?

PH: My name is Pamela Harju. I was born and bred in Finland but have lived in Ireland since 2002. I’m a free spirit, independent and passionate and enjoy solitude – some would say too much. Apart from writing, the great loves in my life are dogs and rock music; I have no musical talent myself, but I’m a huge fan!


JR: When did you first realise you want to be a writer? Who spotted that talent and what was the first thing you do knowing that?

PH: I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Before I even learned to read, I’d browse through children’s picture books and come up with my own story to match the pictures. As soon as I was able to string words together, I was always writing something. In secondary school, I remember bringing all the girls in my class to tears with a short story about a young girl’s dog being run over by a drunk driver. I guess at that point I realised I was able to evoke emotion in others with my writing.


JR: Do you have any formal education in creative writing? Do you think formal education in writing is necessary?

PH: I completed a full-time, nine-month course in writing after I completed my business studies, thinking that I wanted to get into journalism. I quickly realised that journalism was not for me, but it fuelled my passion for fiction writing. I wouldn’t say formal education is necessary, and I don’t think I consciously use what I have learned when I write, but subconsciously, I’m sure it helps me with structure and plotting.


JR: Are you a full-time author? Do you have other activities as main source of income? How do you organise your schedule and time in writing a book?

PH: Unfortunately, writing is something I must squeeze into my daily schedule along with a full-time job – at least so far! I have a bill-paying job in software licensing which allows me to finance my writing and self-publishing. It’s hard to find the time to write, but I have learned to make the most of the time I have. I work from home three days a week, and I write on my breaks on those days. Evenings and weekends are another good time to write unless I have something else on. I train and compete in dog agility and often travel to see bands, so those passions sometimes eat into my writing time, but I need to live life in order to have something to write about!


JR: What made you decide to start writing something? What or who influences you?

PH: Music is a huge influence to my writing, so often an idea comes from a song or a lyric. I also have vivid dreams, and many of my stories start from dreams, such as my debut novel, The Truth about Tomorrow. Often a character pops into my head first, and the rest of the story follows from there.


JR: How long do you normally finish writing a book? What is the hardest part in the process?

PH: Depending on the length of the story, I usually spend a year or two on the first draft. I am getting quicker as I have become better at fitting writing time into my days and also not waiting until I feel inspired. The hardest part for me is to keep my interest in the story I’m working on while other ideas pop into my mind. This is another reason why I am trying to learn to write faster; to finish the first draft while I’m still excited about the idea.


JR: Give your thoughts about traditional publishing Vs. self-publishing?

PH: Before I stumbled upon Mark Dawson’s excellent self-publishing course on a Facebook ad, I was going to try to get my debut novel published traditionally. The course completely changed my view, and I love the independence of self-publishing! I have to put more money into the project initially, but any money I make comes back to me, and I don’t have to share my earnings with publishers and agents. It’s hard work, but it’s also very rewarding.


The Truth about TomorrowJR: How many books have you written (published and non-published)?

PH: I self-published a novel in Finland in early 2016, and I am working on re-releasing that soon, including a paperback version. The Truth about Tomorrow is my English language debut. I wrote another two novels when I was a teenager, and I have another three in different stages of the process that will be released at some point in the not too distant future.


JR: Any other works in progress?

PH: I hop across genres all the time. I have finished a first draft of a fantasy novel that I need to return to and re-work before it can be released. I am currently working on a mystery novel, which is almost finished, and a romance novella that is increasingly starting to look like a full-length novel…


JR: What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?

PH: Keep writing! Write, write, write and write, and in between, read and watch TV. Anything with a story in it will teach you something; even if it’s how not to do it!


JR: How can readers discover more about you and your works?

PH: On my website, pamelaharju.com, on Twitter using @pamelaharju and on Facebook at www.facebook/pamelaharju. I’m always delighted to hear from my readers!


pamela harju