Posted by: admin in: Litterature
Do you remember when you first decided to become a writer?
Ever since I was six years old I’ve always wanted to have as much free time to myself as possible. Being a writer was one possibility among many others I tried in order to reach that goal.
Was it an easy choice to make?
In terms of skills yes, in terms of motivation no. In the very beginning it was relatively easy, as I know that it would be impossible to earn one’s living by writing experimental fiction in Finland. So I didn’t quit my night job until many years later.
What writers did have a major influence in your work / life?
No one did. Or maybe all the lousy and incompetent Finnish authors I read before I began to write myself convinced me that I could easily do better than them, but I wouldn’t say that was a major influence. Of course I learned the tricks of my trade from foreign writers and theorists, but that was all about technique and devices coming from hundreds and hundreds of little sources.
What are the positive and negative aspects of being a writer in Finland?
Well, there are only 5.5 million Finns around, the vast majority of them firmly believing literature is very valuable and important, but only if it is not experimental.
What are the themes that you like to explore in your books?
I don’t like to reduce my writing to themes. Still, one theme that interests me is the clash between simulation and narrative. The major political, economic, administrative and military decisions affecting all or most of us are usually based on simulation, but the acted-out results of
these simulations, and the models and goals behind them, are reported, represented, explained and broadcasted back to us only in narrative forms and modes. I could easily argue this is one theme that is more suitable to be explored in networked and programmable media than in books. And that’s just another reason I don’t like to reduce my writing to themes.
How could you define your style?
I could, but I rather not. I almost did define it 15 years ago in the dust jacket of my first novel, predicting and advertising that the book will be easy to read, difficult to understand, and impossible to master.
Have you ever considered the possibility to totally change your style?
I think I’ve already done that a few times. It would have been very hard to write fiction, essays, drama, journalism and literary criticism and not change one’s style once in a while.
How do you write? Do you try to follow some strict rules or do you only write “when it comes”?
I write, or plan what and how to write, three hours a day, five days a week. The rest is free, which is the only strict rule. My almost clockwork-like average speed has been one publishable page per hour for years now, which means there’s lots of time for being lazy or taking on multiple other projects and still publish a print novel or a collection of essays once in every two years.
When you’re working on a book, what is the stage / moment that you prefer?
The publication I guess. The stages of flow during the writing process are great fun too, but they feel much better in the planning period because there you can enjoy keeping your options open and multiplying without making any binding decisions.
What books or authors have you read recently?
The last book I finished was Steven Mithen’s After the Ice, a global human history 20 000-5000 B.C. I’ve also been playing with Stuart Moulthrop’s latest web fiction, Pax http://iat.ubalt.edu/moulthrop/hypertexts/pax , quite a lot during the last week or two.
If there is one…what is your favorite book? For what reasons?
It has to be either Finnegans Wake or Book Unbound. The former is unsurpassable in its multilingual inventiveness and resistance to literary theory, and the latter, a dynamically ergodic poetry generator by John Cayley (you can download it from www.shadoof.net/in ), has considerable Buddhist charm in how it challenges the traditional print-related notions of authorship, the text, and the role of the reader.
How do you consider Internet as an author?
As I published my first web fiction six years ago and my academic research is now focused on ergodic literature and computer games I can’t avoid it. Even if that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t want to avoid the Net, as even a quick tour through its resources of kinetic poetry, hypertext fictions, MUDs and textual instruments will make you see a wide variety of new expressive possibilities inherent in networked and programmable media. Obviously, you’d also see the constraints and limitations of print literature very clearly, and maybe that’s exactly what scares some authors.
Do you think that Internet could somehow change the traditional publication process?
There’s a lot less hype about that now than, say, five years ago. The Net is and should by now be understood to be much more than just another delivery channel.
What are your actual and future projects?
I’m working on maybe six different projects now. I’m writing a print novel on media warfare to be published in 2004 or 2005, adding some final temporal settings to a dynamic digital cybertext fiction changing itself based on the analysis of its user’s reading habits, and entering into a series of collaborations with a composer friend of mine, Kimmo Kuitunen, in order to learn how to build a textual-musical instrument that will play fictions and compositions with equal ease. Of course it will take years to reach that goal. I’m also one of the editors of Game Studies www.gamestudies.org , the world’s first peer-reviewed academic journal of computer game research, and a series of Cybertext Yearbooks. And finally I’m engaged with one or two academic research projects I’ll try to finish before getting totally bored with them.