with Paula Puolakka
Q1: When did you start writing? Your biggest influences?
Paula: I typed my first letter when I was six. My mother threw the paper away since the lines “didn’t make any sense.” The letter was for my grandmother.
As a kid and a teen, I kept a diary, but my first “professional rants” were reader’s opinions. I was 12 when I started this type of correspondence. A movie analysis in Disney’s Uncle Scrooge magazine was the first tiny – but serious – publication of mine.
My biggest influences: Mr. Wittgenstein and Mr. Kaczynski.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t want to be an author! I was forced to become a writer and a poet because new technological devices were introduced to the field of Horticulture in 2006 and 2007. The new methods were against my values, so I decided to pursue another career. In 2008, in Finland, it was still possible to create a handwritten paper or a manuscript and send it forward via snail mail. I applied to study History of Science and Ideas, and I got the highest exam-based scores in my group. It took me only four years to earn my Master’s status. However, when I graduated and was ready to work as a writer, the work field had experienced a pivotal change: most of the Finnish papers had been turned into e-papers. Everything was about computers and the internet. Many long-term journalists were laid off. It was impossible for a newcomer to find a steady job in Finland!
However, even though I was trapped – again – and technology was an issue for me, I decided to try and find remote writing gigs. I was instantly welcomed by the Jewish Community, and I wrote a few freelance articles for their magazine. Then, I was given a publishing deal by MTP in the UK. I made a year-long deal with them, and I wrote three short novels. I also made a deal with a Finnish publisher, Mediapinta, and they published two books of my Beat poetry to celebrate Finland’s 100 years of independence. I also started receiving lightweight writing prizes from the USA, Finland, and Israel. The first hardcore honorable mention I received was from an essay contest held by The Finnish Reserve Officers’ Federation.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?
Paula: My Lord.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Paula: I was born in Oulu (the better side of Tuira,) but I spent my whole childhood in Sipoo and Helsinki. I was a teenager when my mother decided that our family should move to Oulu. I was forced to leave everything behind. My years in Oulu were full of pain, sadness, and hopeless situations.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Paula: The academic article I wrote for the science and university magazine Hybris (Tampere University, Finland) in 2020. Also, I love the short story I submitted to the writing contest held by Arts Quarter Books (UK) in 2019. The title was “The Texas Yippie.” It didn’t win the competition, but the chief editor was so impressed that he handpicked the story to be a part of the competition anthology, “Words Catch Fire.”
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Paula: I listen to music, and I sleep.
Q7: What is a favorite line from a writing of yours or others?
Paula: John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)
Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy?
Paula: I enjoy listening to the German and British military marches, Beethoven, Mozart, Roger Miller, Dave Tarras’ klezmer music, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Steven Curtis Chapman, John Frusciante/Trickfinger, The Poppy Family, Paul McCartney/the Wings, Justin Bieber, Jerry Lee Lewis, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Beastie Boys, Alan Jackson, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Black Light Burns, Adam Sandler, the old Finnish, British and American pop sensations (Kristian, etc.,) the tunes from the American musicals, old tv shows, and movies, and so on.
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Paula: You will understand the irony when you check out the answer to Q4: I’m the representative of the City of Oulu. I will handle the task until early 2022 (or that’s what they told me!) To me, it’s a face-to-face promo and a Team Ted thingy, but I’m also on Instagram. (Another tech trap…) I’m telling people random stories about Oulu but also sharing my experiences in Helsinki. What happens after this adventure is over? I don’t know. I have sent my poems, stories, and articles to various places. I’m waiting for the results, but I’m also in search of new challenges and adventures.
Bio: Paula Puolakka (1982) is a Beat poet, writer, and MA (History of Science and Ideas.) In 2017, CAIN, The Garden of Eden, and ADAM were published by Michael Terence Publishing (UK.) In 2017, Näkymättömän naisen isku was published by Mediapinta (Tampere, Finland.) In 2018, TESTAMENTTI: joutsenlaulu turhuuden turuilta was published. Puolakka has landed first and second in various writing competitions and challenges. She has also been given honorable mentions. In late 2021 and early 2022, Puolakka is the representative of the City of Oulu.
To read and learn more:
Profile on Spillwords Press: https://spillwords.com/author/paulapuolakka/