Anna-Leena Harkonen emerged on the literary scene with her debut novel, How to Kill a Bull, at the age of 18. A year earlier, she had starred in a major feature film in her native Finland after the director spotted her at a youth theater event.
Harkonen had dreamed of becoming an author and actress from a young age, but the huge success of her literary debut introduced her to something that she was not prepared for: the circus called celebrity.
Celebrity brings new realities to your life—realities that seem absurd but are very true. People telling you how much your books have helped them is wonderful, but what do you do when someone sticks their cell phone a couple of inches from your face in the church at Christmas and starts recording?
When people standing next to you talk about you as if you weren’t there, or when they whisper and point at you with a vindictively scornful expression, you can always turn away, walk away, or even sprint away.
But what do you do when someone attacks you verbally and very vocally in a public place? Should you keep your mouth shut, or should you try to come up with a witty and equally inappropriate comeback—and read about it in the tabloids the next day?
What do you do when someone keeps writing you letters for years, thinking that you are in a relationship with them—and then appears at your door?
Constant self-consciousness is a pain. Everything I do is instantly reflected by people’s imaginary reactions in my head. What would they think if they knew? They must never know! What do they think of me? Why are they staring at me? Why are they not staring at me?
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