Anna-Leena Harkonen


Mari Lahti


20 Questions

What book should everyone read?

Under the North Star by Väinö Linna. It’s moving and humorous, with brilliant character portrayal and excellent dialogue.

What skill would you like to master?

The English language. I’ve forgotten quite a lot of what I’ve learned, and I speak English only when I absolutely have to. I hate small talk. I feel like I lose my personality and become an incomprehensible fool.

What are you afraid of? 

The pain that comes with aging, and being left at the mercy of others. I have made a living will, which covers all the crucial aspects, including cold white wine.

What do you splurge on? 


What have you been wrong about? 

So many things that I cannot single anything out.

Who has changed your life? 

My son.

When do you lie? 

If I don’t want to go to an event. I lie that I have already made other plans.

What word or sentence do you use too much? 

“I wanna die.” I say it when a clothes hanger falls on the floor, or when I’m depressed. Those close to me know that it means nothing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

Impatience. I’m incredibly restless. Two hours in a hair salon is too much for me. I once left when my hair was still wet. “Would you like to see what it looks like from behind?” No. There’s nothing I can do about it at this point. I just want to pay and go home.

What is your greatest achievement? 

My child—and having the courage and strength to write books.

What is your most precious possession? 

My cat. Or is that a possession?

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you choose? 

Madonna. I would like to know whether she is as cold and strong-willed as they claim.

What does always makes you wonder? 

Why some people don’t have a sense of humor. It’s a tragedy and a mystery.

What is the best decision you ever made? 

Leaving the Theater Academy in Helsinki for the theater arts program of the University of Tampere back in the 1980s. At the time, the teaching methods at the Theater Academy were so toxic that I would have lost my sanity.

What is your favorite place on earth? 

Chania on Crete.

What is your most useful routine? 

Making coffee in the morning.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Don’t let people push you around. When I was younger, I froze if someone was mean to me. Now I strike back or walk away.

What have you learned about love? 

That love doesn’t always help—in a relationship, I mean. When I was younger, I thought everything will be fine if you just love enough.

When did you last change your mind? 

Earlier today, I would have loved to have ice cream and cookies, but I made a feta sandwich instead, because it’s healthier. I deeply regret that decision.

What gives you hope? 

Laughter. In a difficult situation, nothing is as therapeutic as laughter with good friends. It carries you forward, to the next horrible situation.

By Mari Paalosalo-Jussinmäki

Published with permission from Eeva magazine

New Terrain Press 2024. All rights reserved.

This site uses AWStats to monitor visitor numbers. Cookies are not used.