Nora Surojegin is an illustrator, children’s author and a graphic designer. She lives in Kirkkonummi, between the sea and the forest, where she creates worlds with images and words, gets inspired by the forest trolls and potters around in her secret garden. In her work she wants to mix the strange with the incredible and create art that makes you stop. Her books have been translated into ten languages.
Ilona Ahti is an award-winning tv- and film scriptwriter, who has lived on nearly all continents and currently adventures Tansania together with her family. She’s known especially for being the other writer for the film Girl Picture, which was successful at the Sundance festival and was the Finnish submission for the 95th Academy Awards.
Pinja Meretoja is a Finnish children’s picturebook author and an illustrator, living and working in Helsinki. She draws inspiration from themes of environment, cultural history and equality. Meretoja graduated from Universidad de Palermo (Buenos Aires, Argentina) with a degree in Illustration Designer, and since that she has been working on a field of illustration.
Pinja Meretoja has published two children’s picture books at Tammi (2021and 2022) and is now working on her third book – a graphic novel for adults. Her new book Travels in Time was shortlisted for the most Beautiful Books of the Year Award 2022. She loves music, cats, 80’s He-man characters and comics.
Kaisa Paasto spent her childhood in the north of Finland and now lives in Espoo with her husband, two children, bunnies and a shih tzu. Kaisa has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature and has previously worked as translator, content specialist and entrepreneur. Apart from the Anni books she has published a domestic thriller for adults by Storytel Original.
Kai Vaalio is an illustrator, comic artist, and a bit of a cosmopolitan as well. He’s written and illustrated underground comic books for adults about his travels in South-East Asia and Latin America — the latter even won Mondo magazine’s Travel book of the year award back in 2014. Recently he’s ventured into the world of illustrating children’s books mainly with Arttu Unkari’s Dadman Series. Together they’ve made four books about this goofy detective and his clever little posse. The Dadman Series has received Storytel Awards and Runeberg Junior 2023 award nominations. Vaalio’s been on and off in the graphic industry since 2005 when he graduated as a graphic designer from Lahti College of Arts and Crafts. In 2018 he got his bachelor’s degree from Lahti University of Applied Sciences.
Arttu Unkari is a teacher from Helsinki and a Master of Education (University of Helsinki, 2015) who majored in ethics and philosophy. He combines his educational background and experience as a teacher in his books – his stories are anarchist and zany, but at the same time the humour often revolves around profound and intriguing concepts such as honesty, obedience, and morality in ways that speak to children in their own language. His books are enjoyed by adults as well because they contain layers that open up differently to readers of all ages. This is one of the reasons Dadman is such a great series for the whole family.
As an author Unkari is a Runeberg prize nominee 2023 for the third instalment of the Dadman series: Dadman and the Horrible Hypnosis (Isämies ja hyytävä hypnoosi, Otava 2022). The Runeberg Prize is a literary prize awarded by the newspaper Uusimaa, the City of Porvoo, the Finnish Writers’ Union, the Finnish Critics’ Association and the Finland’s-Swedish Writer’s Association. The prize was established in 1986 and it is awarded annually in Porvoo on 5th February, the day when Finland celebrates their national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Three of his books (Dadman and the Exploding poop, Dadman and the Evil Little Brother, and Dadman and the Horrible Hypnosis) have been nominated for best children’s audiobook in the 2020, 2021, and 2023 Finnish Storytel awards. He’s also participated in making a Finnish language schoolbook (Loikka 3, Otava 2022).
Unkari is a sought after inspirational speaker in his home country. He’s visited schools all over Finland advocating for the importance of reading.
Eri Shimatsuka is a Helsinki based Japanese designer and a writer.
Her designs are inspired from Nordic nature and fragments of everyday life. She designs for different brands in Japan and Finland such as Marimekko and Lapuan Kankurit.
She has written many books about Finnish design and everyday life.
‘Kettu ja hiljaisuus’ with Reetta Niemelä (2022) is her first illustrated picture book.
Reetta Niemelä is an award-winning children’s author. She has written poetry collections, picture books, nonfiction, study material and many beloved book series for children. For her work, she’s been awarded e.g. Kaarina Helakisa Award and for her nonfiction the Tietopöllö award. Niemelä’s fantasy novel Black Moon Inn, illustrated by Katri Kirkkopelto, won the Arvid Lydecken Award, was nominated for Finlandia Junior and was selected as the audience favourite.
Topics related to nature and especially animals are recurring themes in Niemelä’s work. She wants to focus on how literature and language can give a voice to the silent ones.
Janne Malinen (born 1981) has worked for a long time in communication and as a freelance journalist. He has graduated from University of Helsinki in 2010 with the major in literature. In 2022, he was selected as Communication Consultant of the Year in Finland. The Secrets of the Sanatorium: Seven Lily-of-the-Valleys is Malinen’s debut book and the first book of the series.
Åsa Lucander is a director and designer, working in illustration and animation both in the UK as well as Scandinavia.
Originally from Finland, she moved to London in 2001 where she was introduced to animation while studying illustration. After graduating she joined the animation studio 12foot6 where she stayed until 2014.
In 2015 she joined Aardman Animations in Bristol, where she is now based.
With multi-faceted strengths in storytelling, design and animation she loves exploring various creative styles, be it in 2d, stop motion or CGI. Åsa has a passion for hand rendered drawings and explores many different textures and mediums in all areas of her work. She loves mixing humour with melancholy and thrills in bringing characters of every shape and form to life with compelling scripts and inventive visions. She nimbly blends music, authentic dialogue, film segments, hand drawn characters and dolls in innovative ways.
Åsa has directed multiple shorts, including her award-winning film Lost Property, as well as many heart-warming commercial films for clients including Blue Peter, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Project Every- one and Childline, and a VR documentary film for BBC. Most recently she directed the music video for Coldplay’s track Daddy that has won numerous awards.
Mari Kujanpää has studied forestry and library studies. During the days she works as a library manager in the Oripää library, and during the evenings she writes. She has authored multiple children’s novels, and her work Minä and Muro, dealing with school bullying, won the Finlandia Children’s & YA Prize in 2009. A play based on the novel was performed in the Finnish National Theatre 2013-2014.
Kujanpää enjoys the challenge of writing about topics often perceived as challenging in the lives of children, such as loneliness, bullying, and a grandparent’s memory disorder. In her best dreams, she spreads her arms and flies over ancient forests. In her nightmares, she is a teenager again and walks the gloomy corridors of secondary school.
Katri Kirkkopelto is an award-winning artist, illustrator, and art teacher. She has illustrated multiple popular picture books and schoolbooks, and her children’s books have also been seen on the theatre stage.
In 2009 Kirkkopelto received the Kylli Koski award, and her works have been nominated for Finlandia Junior in 2016, 2020, and 2022 (Black Moon Inn, with Riitta Niemelä). In 2021 she won the Arvid Lydecken Award together with the writer Reetta Niemelä for Black Moon Inn.Kirkkopelto’s illustrations have been exhibited in Finland and also abroad, e.g. in the biennale in Bratislava.
Ted Forsström is a Finnish-Swedish media personality living in Ostrobothnia. He has worked as a comedian, actor, radio host and author, often as part of the duo Ted & Kaj. Today he works with children’s programs on Svenska Yle and talks once a week in Finland’s biggest Swedish podcast, Ted & Kaj, together with Kaj Korkea-aho.
The ‘Fun Learning’ program is created by an incredible team of people led by Sanna Lukander, the Fun Academy CEO and a textbook publishing veteran. The team includes illustrators, graphic designers, children’s writers, Finnish teachers, and topical experts who create these fun adventures and stories. There is even a panel of children who form a focus group to make sure they get their say on everything concerning the Kip Crew! The book characters have been designed in cooperation with children in Finland and Spain.
Fun Academy, an official member of Education Finland (educationfinland.fi), is an early education company that provides pedagogical solutions based on the unique ‘Fun Learning’ approach.
The aim is to bring the best early education to every child on the planet. The solutions are developed for truly international application and can be adapted to complement other curricula.
Riina Kaarla is a passionate author-illustrator and a creative dynamo, whose internationally published books are especially beloved for their true-to-life and vivid characters.
Sami Kaarla has worked as a professional writer-illustrator for more than a decade. He has written and illustrated dozens of internationally renowned books. He writes and illustrates the YA Nordic Horror series, the Pet Friends and Pet Agents series, and Moomin books based on Tove Jansson’s beloved characters, with his wife, Riina. Still, he finds time for his four sons, four cats, and three dogs who inspire him every day.
Anders Vacklin is a prize-winning drama writer, also publishing fiction and non-fiction. He is also a creative writing teacher and script consultant who has helped hundreds of writers tell their stories. Anders writes the YA Nordic Horror series and Pet Friends series with Riina and Sami Kaarla.
A.R.S. Horkka is a very private person and feels unwelcomed in social situations. This author doesn’t give interviews, refusing to step into the public spotlight. Horkka is a human being without a face, skin color, or gender. Part of the Nordic Horror series lure and ‘lore’ is that its author is just a “story,” among other stories.
A.R.S. Horkka is also a pseudonym for wife-and-husband author-illustrator duo Riina and Sami Kaarla and author Anders Vacklin. They are Team Horkka, and this team is on fire. Because – Season 2 is coming!
The authors are already planning seven new Nordic Horror novels.
Riina and Sami Kaarla have worked for over a decade as an author-illustrator duo. They have written and illustrated dozens of internationally sold Moomin books based on characters created by Tove Jansson. Their latest children’s novel series, “Pet Agents” has also been an international success. Its rights are now sold to six countries.
Anders Vacklin is a prize-winning screenwriter, dramaturge, script doctor, creative writing teacher, and author of several non-fiction books on scriptwriting. He has written stage plays, musicals, and even a Virtual Reality game. Anders has also co-authored a YA novel-trilogy based on a script for a short film, a success at PAGE, BlueCat, and ScreenCraft screenwriting competitions.
Satu Varjonen has worked as a freelance editor for 17 years, during which she’s written e.g. for most Finnish women’s magazines. When it comes to storytelling, it is children’s literature that gets her heart beating. Who Nose? in the Thelma the Tenacious Witch series is her debut.
Elina Pitkäkangas is an author from Nokia, Finland, and an active advocate of YA literature. She has studied creative writing and did her master’s degree in the University of Helsinki majoring in literature. Her works seamlessly combine elements of fantasy, social criticism and moral questions. Pitkäkangas has written five novels and produces book-related videos to TikTok and Instagram on her channel @elinapitkakangas.
Hannele Lampela’s lovable works have been praised above all for their rich humor and ability to truly show the world from a child’s perspective. She has the ability to enchant her readers, and that is why both children and adults love her stories. Lampela’s works have been dramatized for example by the Finnish National Theater, Kuopio City Theater and YLE’s radio plays. She has been awarded the prestigious Kaarina Helakisa Prize for her work and she has been nominated for Runeberg Junior award in 2019 and for Storytel Award, and Arvid Lydecken Award in 2020.
In addition to her fictional works, Lampela has written and created a world of stories for the next national ABC book of Finnish schools. First graders across the country will learn to read through Hannele’s texts. Lampela lives in a small wooden house in the middle of apple trees with her family, and spends her days not only writing, but also pampering herself and others on a regular basis.
Meri Luttinen is an award-winning Finnish debut writer from Tampere. Her debut Stormseye won the Topelius prize and was nominated for both Kuvastaja Award and Finlandia Prize for Children’s & YA literature in 2020.
She has a Master’s degree in Finnish language and literature and has worked teaching Finnish and creating study materials. Luttinen is fascinated by everyday life in different eras and wants to transport readers to other worlds with her texts.
Veera Salmi (1976) is a writer who lives in Helsinki. Prior to her career as a writer she worked for 15 years as a kindergarten teacher. The real starting point for her career as a writer was given by the children in the kindergarten, who said they no longer wanted to hear the same old stories that take place somewhere in the countryside. They wanted to hear stories about the city, the kind of place where they themselves lived. So she started writing such stories. First she wrote urban stories for children, then for adults and now for young adults as well. Veera Salmi is a bestselling author of over 20 books.
A Beautiful Day to Die is her brand new, urban young adults’ novel – even though the characters also leave the city. When Salmi wrote the book she travelled around Helsinki by metro, and listened to the teenagers and young adults, making notes about the rich, innovative and international language they used.
Petri Tamminen is a Finnish author best known for his laconic humor and short stories, and 6 novels. How to greet an alien is his first book for children. Tamminen often writes about shame and shyness, and he isn’t afraid to use his own life as an example.
Satu Kettunen won 2015 Rudolf Koivu award for her debut picture book “Otso Aarnisen salaperäinen seikkailu”. Her second book, Yökirja (together with Inka Nousiainen) was nominated for the Nordic Council Children’s Literature Prize in 2017. Satu illustrates children’s books and magazines, and she also creates art installations, exhibitions and street art.
Heidi Viherjuuri is a teacher, children’s writer and a blogger, who lives in Germany. She grew up in a small village in the Finnish countryside – just like Hilja.
Aino Louhi (s. 1981) in an artist whose large range of works include paintings and installations, as well as children’s book illustrations and comic-zines. Imaginary Girl is her first long graphic novel.
MILA TERÄS has written several books for children, young adults and adults, and been nominated for the prestigious Finlandia Junior and Topelius prizes. She often incorporates fantasy and historical elements into her realistic work.
Mila Teräs has been nominated for several prizes, like for the prestigious Topelius Prize in 2006 & 2013, and for the Anni Polva Prize in 2013. She was shortlisted for IBBY honors list 2007, and her and Karoliina Pertamo’s previous collaborations were nominated for the most renowned children’s literary prize in Finland, the Finlandia Prize, in 2014 and 2015.
Two books from Mila Teräs’ middle-grade Telma series have been translated into German. She has written for kids, youngsters and adults.
ELINA HIRVONEN is an author of adults’ and children’s prose, a journalist and documentary filmmaker. She has written four highly acclaimed adults’ novels that are at the same time tragic and beautiful. She is also known for her picture book series Princess Rascal, and she is currently writing a middle-grade trilogy – the first book of the series, Julia & P.A.L. will be published in fall 2020.
She has received Kalevi Jäntti Prize, and Nuori Aleksis Prize and has been nominated for Finlandia Prize and Debut Prize.
Anders Vacklin is a prize-winning screenwriter, dramaturge, script doctor, and author of several manuals on scriptwriting.
Aki Parhamaa is studying creative writing at the University of Jyväskylä, and writing a Finnish superhero movie.
Beta is the duo’s first novel, based on a script for a short film called Suited Reality, a success at PAGE International, International BlueCat, and ScreenCraft screenwriting competitions.
Anne Leinonen (b.1973) is a multiple-award winning, key author, tutor and editor of Finnish science fiction and fantasy. Her most recent publication is the first volume of a YA urban fantasy duology, Bookwitch (Kirjanoita), which will be followed by Witchbook (Noitakirja) in 2018.
Leinonen’s short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies, earning her several Atorox awards (voted for by fans). Her science fiction novels, Viivamaalari and Ilottomien ihmisten kylä were published to positive reviews, as well as a trilogy, Routasisarukset, written in collaboration with Eija Lappalainen, In addition to writing YA and adult fiction, she has now started to work on audio and television dramas.
Anne Leinonen moves fluidly between science fiction and fantasy. Her texts deal with themes of otherness and unfamiliarity, as well as conflicts between the community and the individual. Nature plays an important part in her work, as a vehicle for the story, the stage of action and on a symbolic level. Leinonen’s prose is taut, with no superficial descriptions. Instead, she takes her readers right in to the middle of events and the lives of her characters. Her use of language shows talent and uniqueness, favouring experimentation with different styles and often works on several pieces at the same time. She is especially renowned for her collaborations with other writers.
Leena Parkkinen has authored three prize-winning adults’ novels set in 20th century Europe, often about people living at the margins society. Her skillful use of detail is often imbued with an element of suspense. She has also written two children’s story books.
Parkkinen has received numerous literary awards, such as Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for the best debut (2009), Academic Bookshop’s Bestselling Debut Prize (2009), Laila Hirvisaari Award (2010) and the Kalevi Jäntti Prize (2013), in addition to being nominated for the Tulenkantaja Export Prize 2017. Her works have been translated into seven languages to date.
Magdalena Hai is a lover of cross genre fiction and all things strange, and her fiction often combines elements of sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Besides writing Hai teaches writing and is an active member and editor in the publishing co-operative Osuuskumma.
Riikka Jäntti, a 2003 graduate of Helsinki’s School of Art and Design, now part of Aalto University, is a Helsinki-based illustrator and author who has created art for both nonfiction and fairy tale books for children. Her first children’s book was published in 2005. Jäntti is best known for the adorable Little Mouse series that has been sold to 13 territories, including Australia, Nepal, and China !
In her illustrations she uses pen and ink as well as watercolor and gouache. In 2009 Jäntti won the first ever Tieto-Lauri, an award for children’s and juvenile non-fiction, for her illustrations in Viidakkotanssi (Jungle Dance). The book was written by Markku Löytönen about the explorer Rafael Karsten in Ecuador.
Author photo by Veikko Somerpuro.
Ville Hytönen (b. 1982) is a poet, children’s book writer, bookshop owner, columnist and publishing director at Savukeidas Publishing, which he founded at the age of 19. He lives in Tallinn, Estonia. Hytönen’s poems have been translated into 16 languages. In 2010 he received the Sammon Tekijät Award for new thinking, creativity and innovation. Awarded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the prize is worth 50,000 euros.
Wonky Donkey (Hipinäaasi apinahiisi, Tammi 2013), which Hytönen created together with illustrator Matti Pikkujämsä, was nominated for the prestigious 2013 Finlandia Junior Prize that honours the year’s best children’s book. Wonky Donkey was also named one of 2013’s three most beautiful Finnish children’s books by the Finnish Book Art Committee.
Hannele Huovi (born 1949) is an acclaimed Finnish author who wrote her first children’s radio play while studying for her university degree. In addition to being known as a versatile creator of children’s and juvenile literature, she also writes poetry and prose for adults.
Huovi has received several awards and nominations for her work; among these is the Topelius Prize for the best Finnish youth novel in 2002 (for The Feather Chain), a Finlandia Junior nomination in 2011 (for The Giant Girl and her Tiny Friend), and a nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
During her career Hannele Huovi has collaborated with a variety of illustrators and artists, namely with Kristiina Louhi (Jättityttö ja Pirhonen) and Jukka Lemmetty (Urpo ja Turpo). Hannele Huovi is also an accomplished translator into the Finnish language, having translated more than 50 children’s books.
Mintie Das (b. 1976) was born in India and raised in the U.S., but has traveled around the globe. She resides in Helsinki, Finland. She has 15 years of experience in corporate PR and marketing, and she has also worked as an editor. Her first book, Storm Sisters: The Sinking World, produced in collaboration with Rovio Books, has drawn international attention. In February of 2015 it was one of only 11 entries selected for Books at Berlinale, an annual event that introduces film producers to new literary works with strong potential for the big screen.
Markku Karpio worked as a kindergarten teacher for 12 years before becoming a full-time writer in 1996, one year after the publication of his debut novel Headlamp (Otsalamppu, Otava 1995). Karpio has authored both YA and adult novels and numerous short stories, columns and articles, as well as a four-part television series. His novel Storm Warning (Myrskyvaroitus, Otava 2008) was nominated for the Topelius Prize, an award that recognizes the year’s best Finnish book for children and young people.
Karpio has also been nominated twice for the Kirjava Kettu (“Colourful Fox”) prize, in 2009 (for Storm Warning) and 2014 (for My Father is an Astronaut), and twice for the LukuVarkaus Prize. In 2005 he was given the Pertsa and Kilu prize for his impressive contribution to Finnish youth literature. He lives in Utö, a small island in the Baltic Sea.
Anssi Keränen, an author and illustrator, has a master’s degree in graphic design from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now part of Aalto University), and has provided graphic design services for some of Finland’s largest corporations. He has also worked as an illustrator for Finnish magazines since 1999. Keränen is known for his humorous style that is at once classic and innovative. In Captain Cody and the Secrets of the Sea (Tammi 2015), Keränen tells an eco-positive story from a fresh and relatable angle.
Tomi Kontio is one of the most esteemed and acclaimed poets of his generation. His debut collection of poetry Under the Ballroom Sky, which came out in 1993, received the J.H. Erkko Prize, as well as the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for the best recently published debut in 1999. Kontio’s poetry has been translated into many different languages, for example English, Spanish, Polish, Swedish, German, Czech, Hungarian, and Estonian. Tomi Kontio has been nominated for the Runeberg Prize first for The Indecent (1994), a collection of short stories, and then for his novel Deep Inside (1995).
He has published outstanding children’s books, of which the first, Daddy Grew Wings in the Spring, won the Finlandia Junior Prize for 2000. His first book for pre-school children, The Cow with a Trap Door in Her Side, came out in 2006. Illustrator Camilla Pentti received the Rudolf Koivu Prize for the book. Kontio has also written columns and song lyrics. He lives in Helsinki, and has five children.
Katja Krekelä is a Tampere-based author known for her lyrical and imaginative stories mixing adventure and fairy tale. Her debut novel Romisko (2011) has been translated into Danish and Swedish. Wild Castle (Tammi 2015), her middle-grade fantasy adventure, explores a simultaneously creepy and delightful world in which nothing is as it seems.
Matthew Laurence has been a writer and game designer for more than eight years. He is consistently delighted that he actually gets paid to make games. His career has taken him from Orlando to San Francisco, Helsinki and Munich. In addition to playing games of all kinds, Matthew writes and cooks, travels with his wife whenever (and wherever) possible, and maintains an unhealthy relationship with Netflix.
The Freya YA series is produced in collaboration with Kaiken Publishing, an affiliate company of Rovio Entertainment. It continues and builds on Rovio’s publishing programs while also developing new stories, worlds and characters.