Emmi Elina Itäranta (born 1976 in Tampere, Finland, where she also grew up) is a writer, whose first novel the CliFi “Teemestarin kirja” (literal translation: The Tea Master’s Book; english language version “Memory of Water”) was published in Finland by Teos in 2012.
In 2011 her Finnish version of the novel, “Teemestarin kirja” won the Teos Publisher SF contest and received a publishing contract.
“Teemestarin kirja” (literal translation: The Tea Master’s Book)
“Teemestarin kirja” was also awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Literary Prize for young authors in 2012, the Young Aleksis Kivi Prize in 2013 and was nominated for the Tähtivaeltaja Award in 2013, an annual prize for science fiction work released in Finland.
“The book was rejected by a dozen or so agents in the UK and several publishers in Finland before it got a publishing contract through winning a sci-fi and fantasy writing contest organised by the Finnish publishing house Teos. I finished the first full draft in August 2010, and got the phone call about the win in July 2011. In hindsight, it was a relatively quick process — after all, it can take years to find a publisher — but at the time it seemed to take forever. Eleven months is a long time to have doubts about your work and wonder if anyone will ever like it enough to take the risk of investing in it.” – Emmi Itäranta, in an interview with Lotta, a Fenno-Swedish freelancer in London.
Emmi Itäranta studied theater and drama at the University of Tampere, holds an MA in Drama from the University of Tampere. In 2007, she reached the British Kent University (UK) to study creative writing, she holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent, UK, where she began writing her debut novel “Teemestarin kirja” under the title “Memory of Water“.
“I had to write in English initially, because I was submitting the early chapters as coursework for my university degree in the UK. However, I soon discovered that it was quite useful to get feedback from my Finnish writing group, so I ended up writing each chapter in parallel in English and Finnish. It’s a slow process, but I find that the result is better, more polished, than when I’m only writing in one language. It’s a way of forcing myself to be very thorough and it helps me put some distance between myself and the text.” – Emmi Itäranta, in an interview with Lotta, a Fenno-Swedish freelancer in London.
Emmi Itäranta wrote the full text in both Finnish and English, and an excerpt of the novel appeared in the Canterbury Laureate Anthology “On the Line” in 2010.
Itäranta’s professional background includes stints as a columnist, theatre critic, dramaturge, scriptwriter and press officer. She lives in Canterbury, UK, and has recently entered the strange world of writing full time.
Originally, Finnish author Emmi Itäranta didn’t plan to write her first novel in English and Finnish simultaneously, but at the time, she was doing an MA in creative writing in the U.K. But she also wanted to get feedback from her Finnish writing group. The result is the dystopian fable “Memory of Water“, set in a future Finland many years after climate change has rewritten the globe and the competition for resources—in particular, water—is a dire, daily struggle.
“Memory of Water “ :
“Young adult SF novel, the author’s first novel, about a 17-year-old girl in a global warming future in which China occupies Europe and wars are waged over water.”
“I didn’t set out to write a post-apocalyptic novel,” admits Itäranta. “I started out with the main image of a young woman in a future world, preparing tea with the little water that remained. Because it already contained the main character, it contained the world, and the image just grew. It just sort of came naturally. Because the sea levels had risen, the landscape would change. Japan would become virtually uninhabitable and people would have to leave and find a place to live.” So, in that scenario, “a family of Japanese tea masters” would end up in Finland.
However, “I have thought about possibly returning to the world of Memory of Water,” Itäranta says. “When I first finished it, I thought immediately about writing the sequel. For the time being, I was done writing the world and I wasn’t sure that I had anything more to say about it. It may not happen, but I haven’t ruled it out entirely.”
The english language version is being launched by the American publisher HarperCollins in the U.S. (10th of May 2014), UK (8th of May 2014) and Australia.
Rights to “Memory of Water” have been sold in 14 territories to date : Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Estonia, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, Brazil, Turkey, arab countries, etc.
Congratulations, Emmi, that’s a real achievement for the Finnish and European Science Fiction !