My theme: writing and the business of writing
“Karelia: a region of NE Europe, formerly Finland but annexed in several stages by the former Soviet Union.”
|Picture from Paradox|
In Finnish history, Karelia is a contentious issue. It’s not mentioned in the above quote, (from Collins dictionary 2003) but Finland still has a region called Karelia. Many Karelian Finns also consider the area now belonging to Russia as their rightful homeland, because during the 2nd World War many people lost their land and property during bitter battles fought between Finns and Russians.
What has Karelia got to do with writing?
For a writer, historically dramatic events and regions are important, and you ignore them at your peril. Even if your book is set in modern times, there are always characters whose lives, or whose relatives’ lives, have been affected by a historical event. This is true especially for Finland, whose short history has seen many wars and tragedies.
In my latest spy novel, The Red King of Helsinki, the main protagonist’s Karelian family lost their home in the Winter War. This tragedy has repercussions when Pia’s mother Maija decides to study the Russian language in the 1950’s.
Even though I don’t have any close family connections with Karelia, I’ve always been fascinated by the Karelian people and its history, which has so coloured Finnish life. I guess that’s why Karelian characters often seep into my fiction.