Sunday 21 July 2019

Dreams made real

A vivid dream was the starting point for Coolaney-based Finnish author Pamela Harju who tells Sorcha Crowley about self-publishing her English language debut novel

Finnish native Pamela Harju has recently published her debut English language novel, 'The Truth about Tomorrow', exclusive to Amazon.

The 35-year-old software licensing specialist is based in Coolaney and has managed to combine her day job with a career in writing.

She works two days a week in Galway and returns to Coolaney where she lives with her partner Francis - "a lovely Sligoman," she laughs.

"The book is about three young siblings who lose their parents in a car accident," Pamela tells The Sligo Champion.

The main character Kyle French was in the crash and Pamela centred the plot around how he and his siblings move on from that.

The interesting twist features a clairvoyant mother - when Kyle alone survives, the question haunts him, did she know it was going to happen? Through his grief and survivor's guilt, Kyle looks for answers and tries to heal with his remaining family.

The inspiration for the novel will have most wannabe writers racing to bed tonight: "It actually came to me in a dream. It was all inclusive," she says in perfect English.

"I woke up with all the characters ready. I just had to add some structure and plot to it," she says.

"I worked it around my coffee breaks, in the evenings and at weekends until I had it finished," she says.

It took her two years to write the book and she finished the first draft three years ago. Like many first time authors, Pamela put it to one side for a few years until she had the courage to publish it.

It's story about the choice of either running away from your problems or making the right decisions to carry on and an emotional journey about coming of age and moving on even as your world collapses around you.

Pamela's tale will appeal to readers who like strong characters, a distinctly Irish setting and a hint of the supernatural.

So how did a multi-lingual Scandinavian discover Coolaney?

As a young free and single twentysomething, Pamela came through Sligo on her travels and the place impressed her.

"I had been to Sligo on my holidays. When I returned to Finland, I didn't have a permanent job, had no commitments so Sligo was easy for me to move to," she says.

So she packed up and moved from her home town of Pietarsaari to Coolaney where she now lives with Francis.

Did she want to write for long?

"Always. Ever since I can remember I've wanted to write. It was always there," she says.

She wrote small novels in her teenage years which she says "got me in the habit of writing a full length novel."

She has written romance, mystery, fantasy and contemporary fiction. Her writing is character focused, and her ideas often stem from a character that Pamela then builds her story around.

She wrote a Finnish novel last year ('Etäisesti sinun') but admitted English has become her first language of choice now.

"If I was to write in Finnish now I'd find it harder," she says.

"Everything is in English around me. I'd find it very hard to write in Finnish now.

The landscape of Sligo has played its own role in the inspiration behind the book.

"It definitely did. The landscape and the scenery in Ireland is just stunning. The mountains and the sea. I love the peace and quiet of the countryside.

"The people are great characters in the little towns and villages here. They're definitely very inspiring," she smiles.

Pamela chose the self-publishing route after completing a self-publishing course once her novel was written.

"It's pretty easy. The course helped me through all the technical stuff. With the help from the online course It was very easy to navigate the tricky stuff.

Pamela's 'The Truth About Tomorrow' is available as an e-book on Kindle and other devices and also available in paperback on Amazon.

Sligo Champion