Simo Häyhä – a real life inspiration

Earlier this year I wrote a short piece to my Finnish readers. The story about how a hero from the Winter War became an inspiration for Those Who
Follows
 might be of interest for others as well, so here it is.

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Simo Häyhä 1905 – 2002.

In 2002 I had just started out as a political reporter for the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang. That autumn I was sent to the Nordic Council meeting in Helsinki, where politicians from all the Nordic countries meet, drink cheap wine and eat finger food, while they discuss what a union between the Nordic countries should have been like. It was one of my first trips abroad as a journalist.

I do not remember much from the meetings themselves. Believe me, it was not that kind of meetings. But one memory is still vivid.

I was in a bookstore. I’ve always enjoyed the company of books. It does not really matter whether I understand the language or not. For then I have to look at the stories outside novels. Their covers. The posters in the windows, the newspaper at the sales counter and listen to the the low-key conversation between shelves. Such can say a lot about the country you are visiting. Its culture, its people, its political debates and their latest diet trends.

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He was nicknamed «Belaya Smert» by the Soviets. The White Death.

I think it was a book cover, but it might have been a newspaper. It was a picture of an elderly man wearing a black suit and with medals on his chest. His chin was crooked and his round eyes small as pennies, but with a sight clear as glass. Then I read his name. Simo Häyhä.
Back in Norway I read more about this Finish hero from the Winter War, that raged between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939 – 1940. His story fascinated me. A sober farm boy, who turned into an elite marksman, facing the massive Soviet army. The numbers vary, but most sources claim that Häyhä killed more than 500 Soviet soldiers. That makes him the deadliest sniper in history. The Soviets nicknamed him The White Death. He was injured in the final days of the war, fell into a coma and woke up when it was all over. The bullet that hit him crushed his jaw and destroyed his cheek.

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Häyhä used a Mosin-Nagant rifle of this kind. Just an iron sight, no telescopic stuff.

Many years later someone asked him how he became so good at shooting. «Practice» was his short, to the point, reply.
I decided that if I one day was going to write a novel, Simo Häyhä would find his way into it.

Staffan Häyhä, the antagonist from Those Who Follow, has a personality completely different from real life Simo Häyhä. Staffan is no hero. But he carries some of the same physical features. He has the same extreme determination which I believe is required when confronted by a superior enemy. Both are snipers. And the name, obviously. A badly disguised easter egg for those interested in military history.

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Finnish edition of Those Who Follows – Wieniläisveljeskunta.

Full frontal obscurity

In mid august, Sweden will be the eleventh country to release Those Who F0llow, under it´s Swedish name Det Hemliga Brödraskapet Från Wien(AKA Wienerbrorskapet, Gli Adepti, Követök, Wieniläisveljeskunta, Nasladowcy, Viedenske Bratstvo, Videnske Bratrstvo, Wienerbroderskabet, Viini vennaskondand and Les Adeptes.)

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bookshelf view

The Swedish release means that Those Who Follow now have been introduced to readers in more than half of the 20 countries that have bought the publishing rights – so far.

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Full frontal

So, what does Those Who Follow look like? A lot of things, obviously. Readers are different, markets are different, and what looks like a front for a crime novel in Oslo might look quite different in Warszawa, Prag or Copenhagen. As you can see from the picture to the right, there are a few similarities, though. France and Denmark have chosen a cover that I have loved from the moment I saw it. It´s the one with the staring eyes, made by the Danish designer Simon Lilholt. Finland and Slovakia are also thinking in similar ways, with a picture that captures the historic side of the novel – nazi researchers doing their terrible experiments. There is an underlaying brutality in those covers, that I believe captures an important side of the story. If you study them closely (as I have done) you will see that it is not the same picture, but they are probably from the same series. The Norwegian front (left corner, bottom) is also inspired by the parts of the novel describing racial hygiene and eugenics during the 30’s and 40’s.

So which ones do I prefer? Ha ha. Im not gonna tell. I love them all, of course, as if they were my kids. And – as with kids – some you adore from the minute you see them, some you love even more, when you get to know them.

 

A peek into Kalypso!

Finally! The dark and blood dripping tragedy continues, when the second novel in the installment about Fredrik Beier and Kafa Iqbal is released the 15th of August 2016.

That is when Kalypso is released in Norway. But Norwegian-reading crime lovers can get a sneak peek already now. See below to read the first chapters of the follow up after the international success Those Who Follow (Wienerbrorskapet).

 

 

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A scary pleasure

Czech out this cover!

Skjermbilde 2016-05-26 kl. 10.12.36I must say, there is always a degree of mixed anxiety and pleasure each time I see a new cover for Those Who Follow. A book’s front is like the front page of a newspaper. No matter what’s inside, the cover is what turns you on. Or off.

Vídeňské Bratrstvo turns me on!

It was released by my publisher Host in the Czech Republic during the last days of May, and I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I was presented with the front already before Christmas, and just loved it. The illustration has an almost three-dimensional feel to it, and the colours sets a mood that I really believe describe what’s going on on the pages to follow.

And speaking of which. The visual expression from the cover is brought into the novel itself (se below). You can check it out here.

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Le jour est arrivé!

Cette semaine, finalement, verra le lancement de « Les Adept » en version française.

Cgau0EOW4AIxOs4Je suis extrêmement fier et bien curieux de savoir comment le grand public français – si savant – va recevoir mon livre, l’inspecteur Fredrik Beier et son collègue Kafa Iqbal.

 Certains ont déjà eu l’occasion de lire et passer en revue le livre. Je vous invite à prendre parti de leurs impressions sur leurs blogs: Ma’Pirate et Hannibal Lectrice.

Sur Babelio.com vous trouverez plus de commentaires et opinions.

 Un grand merci à mon éditeur Robert Laffont, qui présente le livre dans sa collection «La Bête Noire».

Le design de cet édition est créé par le designer danois Simon Lilholt. Trop cool, à mon avis!

 

Gli Adepti!

First of all – happy new year!

Six months have passed, since our last post.italia

But I haven’t been resting. Instead I have been working on the second part of the story, about Fredrik Beier, Kafa Iqbal and the other characters from Those Who Follow.

Or Gli Adepti as will be the Italian title, when it comes out in Italy, as the first of many countries this year. So let me share with you the Italian cover. I am both very happy and very proud of it, my Italian Publishing House Einaudi have done a great job.

I am looking forward to share more news with you, in the months to come.