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James  Thompson
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Author of the Month > March - James Thompson

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message 1: by Dee, the Insanity Check (last edited Mar 01, 2012 06:07PM) (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments So which of Jim's books are you guys going to read this month?

Inspector Vaara series
Snow Angels
Lucifer's Tears
Helsinki White (due out March 15)


message 2: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Snow Angels ... I've put it off much longer than I intended to. Will be starting it as soon as I finish a couple of short books I'm currently reading.


message 3: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Helsinki white..it should be on my kindle when I wake up the moning of the 15th


message 4: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments lol naomi!!

i'm so fustrated that I can't take the 16th off as a mental health day liked planned...because my other 2 co-workers are out of the office that day - so not cool!


message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Torkelson I just started Snow Angels. This will be my first by JT and I'm looking forward to it. It's also been a couple months since I've done a group read, so also looking forward to some good discussion. Cheers!


message 6: by MARILYN (new)

MARILYN (MARILYNJ) | 80 comments Naomi wrote: "Helsinki white..it should be on my kindle when I wake up the moning of the 15th"

Mine too Naomi.


message 7: by Pam (new)

Pam I too will have Helsinki White on my kindle March 15. I can't wait to get started...


message 8: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I'm aiming for all 3-I have Snow Angels which I've started & Lucifer's Tears which I'll read next. Then I'll buy Helsinki White. For a long month, this March should be good book-wise.


message 9: by Tom (new)

Tom Torkelson Wow, I'm exhausted! I plowed through Snow Angels in a couple days and had a great time. This just might rate as my favorite NN book to date.
Am I wrong in thinking that the book was written in English? I don't know anything about the author, and don't see mention of a translator. Sometimes translation can get in the way of enjoying a story, as I've noticed in a few Nordic books (Karin Fossum comes to mind), but was certainly not the case with this one.
I also appreciated that the author didn't feel the urge to use place names excessively, as can also be the case in Nordic books.
It's early in the month to get into spoilers, so I'll just say for now that I was completely taken by surprise in the final chapters. Very crafty ending! I think I'm going to start in on Lucifer's Tears,as I see that Helsinki White is coming up as a group read in another book club of mine later in the month...


message 10: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Jim actually comes from Kentucky so it would be interesting to see how he answers this question.

I agree with you, Tom..I think Snow Angels is my favorite to date, as well. I can't wait for Helsinki White. I am trying to get caught up on my books so that I can read it on the 15th when it is on my kindle!


message 11: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments James said he writes two versions for his books; one for the Finns (where he doesn't have to explain what the Finnish peculiarities like maternity benefit packages or rosolli are), and one for English + all the other audiences. The good side is ... well, the Finns don't have to read the stuff they know and isn't exotic to them, and for everyone else, the books are easy to enjoy even if they have no clue about Finland or anything Finnish before reading the book. That's just one of the things I loved in Snow Angels, and something that puts him aside of the other Finnish authors, who usually seem to write just for the other Finns.

Some other Nordic books work well translated, as there aren't that many exotic things in them, or what's exotic is still not something that would get on your way. Or e.g. Harry Hole's Norway is exotic, but the Norway doesn't breathe into everything and everywhere. But Finnish crime (and other) books usually just don't work that way. They are usually written only for the Finnish audiences, end result being that if you read one of those books translated (e.g. Harjunpää's Stone Murders - a horrible translation work in English by the way), the characters don't make much sense as they lack the context. The habits and none of the other peculiarities are not explained, there's no map (everyone in Finland can place at least the main 'burbs on the map in Helsinki, so there's no need)... there's no reason for them to explain why it's such normal for a Finn to want to spend their Friday or Saturday evening going to a sauna with his family, why some holidays are supposed to be dedicated for getting pig drunk, etc. Just like if there was an American detective, there would be no need to tell why he tips 20 % or why he doesn't go to see a doctor for a headache when his health insurance doesn't cover that. They are just small daily things that are there, that everyone sees, and there's no need for explaining those - unless or until you make a version of the book for the different audiences. If it's an exotic culture or place, then yes, it is helpful when some of those differences are explained. So you don't have to live in Finland for 15 years before reading a book in order to understand why some of the characters do or say (or don't do or don't say) the things they do.


message 12: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Hi Tom, and thanks. High praise indeed. I have an unusual, maybe unique system. I write a book in English, which is the international version, then a Finn translates it for the Finnish market. I assist in the translation process. In fact, I'm trading emails this morning with the translator. He's checking my opinions on phrasing. The two versions differ slightly. Info we feel international readers want/need, but Finnish readers don't need--a simple example is what is in and how to make a particular dish--is edited out, as it's common knowledge and boring for Finns to read. I think it's a very good system all around, as my written Finnnish isn't good enough to write a book, but my reading more than adequate to participate in translation, so I have control over both final products. Also, writing the manuscript in English is better for almost everyone, as almost no one, other than Finns, can read Finnish, and my other approx dozen publishers worldwide can work from the original English, rather than make a translation of a translation (Finnish--English--target language).


message 13: by Ellie (last edited Mar 09, 2012 02:17AM) (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Thanks for sharing your process-it's fascinating . Your books are the best-I can't wait to get Helsinki White!


message 14: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Thanks for all the info ... very interesting. I've started Snow Angels and finding it excellent. Told my hubby he has to read it!!


message 15: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments In defense of other Finnish authors: very few have contracts outside of Finland, so there's no reason for them to write with the non-Finnish reader in mind. Of those that do have international contracts, just handing a book over for translation is common practice, so they're just following a norm. I concocted my system, but like I said, if it's not unique, at least very unusual. It's also risky. I'm paying translators out of my own pocket, and they ain't cheap, so if a book performed poorly here in Finland, it would be financially painful. I don't think too many authors are willing to take that risk, and I don't blame them.


message 16: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments James wrote: "In defense of other Finnish authors: very few have contracts outside of Finland, so there's no reason for them to write with the non-Finnish reader in mind. Of those that do have international cont..."

I should have included that a Finnish author would likely have a more difficult time creating two different versions of a book than me, one for the international audience. They wouldn't need help only with the translation--many have very good English language skills and translate it themselves if they wished--but have to find a translator who could act as a kind of cultural consultant and suggest what kind of exposition should be included to make a novel more accessible and interesting to foreigners. That's a tall order.


message 17: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments James wrote: "In defense of other Finnish authors: very few have contracts outside of Finland, so there's no reason for them to write with the non-Finnish reader in mind. Of those that do have international cont..."

So, Jim...let's say an author like Liza Marklund has books that have not been translated (which is driving me crazy) it is up to the author and not the publishing house to pay to have them translated?? That sounds so crazy to me.


message 18: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments No, it's unheard of. Or at least I've never heard of anyone besides myself doing it. I wanted things done a certain way and it was my idea. The short version: In my contract negotiations, I got things done the way I wanted them, and also a larger advance and higher royalties. In return, by taking it upon myself to deliver the Finnish manuscript and absorb the cost, I defrayed some of the risk for the publisher.


message 19: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanjoseph) | 25 comments How exciting to "converse" with the author, Jim! I enjoyed your first two books and am looking forward to March 16!


message 20: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Alright, Jim...then I have a question that really irks me...why are publishers all over the place with translating series. They are HORRIBLE with Anders Roslund


message 21: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Naomi wrote: "Alright, Jim...then I have a question that really irks me...why are publishers all over the place with translating series. They are HORRIBLE with Anders Roslund"

They're not all horrible. Some gems exist out there. But the overall poor quality is because the pay for literary translation is low, so many people who studied it at the university with the dream of becoming literary translators found out they can't make a living and moved into higher paying fields, like legal translation. Sometimes, literary translations are even bid out, so low bid gets the job. Even cheap translations are a major expense for a publisher in launching a book, especially by a debut author, as they don't know if they can recoup their investment. So often, it's either a choice of a cheap translation with no quality guarantee or not publishing the book at all.


message 22: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments New blog: Helsinki White: Will I be assassinated?
http://www.jamesthompsonauthor.com/bl...


message 23: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Ridiculous, Jim...

However..love the hat!!


message 24: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments James, I think you should make a downloadable map of Helsinki with all the relevant places to your inspector Vaara books. As someone who lived there ages ago, I'd know where to look for e.g. Hilpeä Hauki, but it might be fun for any noir tourist to see where all those places are, without them having to make a map from scratch. So that way the Vaara fans could download and print (or make a phone app for it?) the map, then do a diy walk tour around when they visit Helsinki.


message 25: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Anna wrote: "James, I think you should make a downloadable map of Helsinki with all the relevant places to your inspector Vaara books. As someone who lived there ages ago, I'd know where to look for e.g. Hilpeä..."

Sounds fun. I'll try to think of someone to help me who knows how to look slick. My US editor thought a pronounciation guide would be helpful. I thought that was a good idea too. It's amusing but hurts my ears when foreigners guess at them.


message 26: by Pam (new)

Pam Alice Hoffman did a glossary of words on her website for The Dovekeepers. I must confess that I looked at it, but did not use it during or after reading the book.


message 27: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Pam wrote: "Alice Hoffman did a glossary of words on her website for The Dovekeepers. I must confess that I looked at it, but did not use it during or after reading the book."

Written or audio glossary? I was thinking audio. I wouldn't use the written one either. Too much work.


message 28: by Pam (new)

Pam It is a written glossary, Jim.


message 29: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments occasionally i'll use a written glossary - more so if i'm reading paperback rather than on my kindle because it is easier to find the stuff...and then only if I can't figure out in a common-sensicle kind of way what they are saying


message 30: by Nidia (new)

Nidia (ninio) | 57 comments I like the idea of having an app. with map and all.
Mankell has one: In the Footsteps of Wallander and it's pretty cool.


message 31: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments I use dictionary.com's iPhone/iPad app when I find some weird words in books. But in 99 % of the cases it's some weird words in UK translated books. Like 'boiler suit' in one of the Nesbø ones... (then again, an American girl I recommended Mankell to told me she was wondering what 'lorry' was, so I guess some books would benefit from having a UK to US dictionary or vice versa).

If the book has however words that are from another language, and have to be there for making sense for the story, it's nice if there is somewhere a small dictionary, just in case.
(Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union drove me crazy for the abuse of yiddish terms, and I didn't realize there was the dictionary in the end. That would be a good or a bad example - either way, if there are lots of weird words in some other language, if the reader can't recognize them it's irritating. And if the reader recognizes them but they are misspelled, that'll annoy too...)

I'm kind of blind to seeing Finnish terms, and I think they are well explained in the Vaara books, but it probably wouldn't be such a bad idea to have some dictionary too. Like the words that have been introduced or been useful in the books so far, or that would be nice to know for a Vaara fan doing their 3 day trip to Helsinki, like how to order a beer and thank you and so on.


message 32: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Thank you, Susan! Naomi, I think it's just hit and miss with translations. Like I said, the pay is low, and different books in a series may have different translators, so the feel across books may be different, maybe quite far from the author's intention. Unlike the case with me, translators can't just call up the author and ask his/her opinion. And, in my case, I can't read many of the languages my works have been tranlated into, like Turkish, and have no idea if the translation is good or not. It's one of those things where you just cross your fingers and hope for the best.


message 33: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Well, one needs to keep a sense of the ridiculous. Doesn't pay to take life too seriously. My web admin clued me in about web hits and blog titles. I experimented by titling one: Rabid Jackals Attack Cleric. Yep, it bumped up hits.


message 34: by Anna, the Enabler (new)

Anna (aetm) | 192 comments That's what good headlines tend to do. :)
Plus it's valid for books and movies too - I admit I've never had interest for a bunch of books or movies unfairly just based on their title. And I've hated a few for failing to keep the expectations of a really good book/movie their name gave clues for (like The Facts Behind The Helsinki Roccamatios - the title was the best thing of the book).


message 35: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments James wrote: "Thank you, Susan! Naomi, I think it's just hit and miss with translations. Like I said, the pay is low, and different books in a series may have different translators, so the feel across books may ..."

I guess it is just sad to me because I can't get into alot of the characters/authors that I really enjoy, such as Sundkvist by Anders Roslund, I can't get as into because I know that things have occurred in other books not translated that have had things occur to them or are touched upon in later books in the series...it is just really, really frustrating!

Getting ready to start HW!!!


message 36: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Yeah, it's frustrating for writers too. So many factors go into foreign book sales, and any of them can ruin a book, translation being one of them. Even book store placement can kill a book. I'm lucky because Putnam has a great sales force, but readers in other countries, many times, have told me they couldn't find a book, had to go the staff to help locate it. People are lazy, hate that extra step. If it's on a table with other titles by writers in the same genre, readers just grab it up and it also increases impulse sales. And just about every country has their own promotion methods. It can all be overwhelming. I try to think about it as little as possible to avoid nervous breakdown.


message 37: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Naomi wrote: "Helsinki white..it should be on my kindle when I wake up the moning of the 15th"

Hi Naomi, was HW on your Kindle this morning?


message 38: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Yep..and the bill for it!! ;)


message 39: by Pam (new)

Pam Helsinki White magically appeared on my Kindle this morning, too. I will be starting it later today. YIPEE and YAHOOOOOO


message 40: by Nidia (new)

Nidia (ninio) | 57 comments I pre-ordered a copy from iBooks and was in my iPad last night a couple of hours before midnight! ;)


message 41: by MARILYN (new)

MARILYN (MARILYNJ) | 80 comments Naomi wrote: "Yep..and the bill for it!! ;)"

Mine too.


message 42: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments that makes total sense to me - I probably never would have picked up snow angels if I hadn't been looking at the new hardcover releases in the library one day and literally didn't have anything that needed to be read (for other challenges, school etc)...which meant I never would have touched base with Naomi - when we both cursed the same girl out for LT spoilers...and so on and so forth

James wrote: "Yeah, it's frustrating for writers too. So many factors go into foreign book sales, and any of them can ruin a book, translation being one of them. Even book store placement can kill a book. I'm lu..."


message 43: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments Boy, Dee...you should have seen one that some dimbo put on Amazon..boy was I ticked. Needless to say, I made a comment!


message 44: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) It makes me almost afraid to read reviews. Some people just don't think.


message 45: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments She basically summarized the book. She didn't go into full spoiler land, but like the woman Dee and I "commented" on..she was right there.

BTW..holy cow, Jim..you really did go dark, didn't ya?!?!


message 46: by Ken (new)

Ken Fredette (klfredette) I can't help myself. I did it. :)


message 47: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Actually, I love dimbo reviews--except they hit me in the wallet. I should start collecting them.

Yeah, I went dark. You should see the couple of scenes I took out. I usually do if my agent or editor requests it, because they don't unless they get stunned and stop in their tracks, get pulled out of the story. For some reason, it was the only book I was capable of writing at the time. I think a lot of it was I couldn't stand the hypocrisy any more. Finland lauded as some kind of Mecca while facing the same set of problems as exist in the U.S., which is more or less reviled by much of the world for its idiotic politics and draconian policies, when, as the most powerful nation on the planet, it should be the world's exemplar. And also, I write noir. It's in my blood. What's a guy supposed to do?


message 48: by Dee, the Insanity Check (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 652 comments would you consider posting those outtakes on your website? or not allowed?


message 49: by Naomi, the Sanity Check (new)

Naomi (nblackburn) | 932 comments James wrote: "Actually, I love dimbo reviews--except they hit me in the wallet. I should start collecting them.

Yeah, I went dark. You should see the couple of scenes I took out. I usually do if my agent or edi..."


See, they tick me off to no end. When I get a book from an author I love, I like to unwrap it. I don't need someone who thinks they are a NY Times book reviewer and then some, or thinks that it is their job to analyze it, laying out the book for me. What did you think of the book and if it isn't in the jacket, you have no business putting it in a review!


message 50: by James (new)

James Thompson (jamesthompson) | 228 comments Naomi wrote: "James wrote: "Actually, I love dimbo reviews--except they hit me in the wallet. I should start collecting them.

Yeah, I went dark. You should see the couple of scenes I took out. I usually do if m..."


Spoilers upset me the most, just ruin the book. A synopsis is many people's idea of a review, both hobbyists and professionals. Here in Finland, it's the accepted style. I'm often left uncertain about whether a reviewer liked a book or not, as a synopsis is the whole damned review! As a result, I rarely read Finnish reviews.


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