What if the only way forward is to go back? One way to find out is to pick a copy of my first novel, Someday Jennifer, published by HarperCollins Canada and out in August 2019 in English, followed by a Finnish version in September 2019, and a Swedish translation right after that.
➡️ Order your copy here.
➡️ Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
➡️ Follow Jennifer, Peter and the rest of the characters, and go back in time on the book’s Instragram account @somedayjenniferbook.
Peter is stuck. The promise of his youth has petered out into a comfortable but lonely adulthood: his career is flat, his friendships exist only on Facebook, and his romantic life is well past its expiry date.
But one night, spurred on by a viewing of Back to the Future after one too many drinks, he has an idea—that he will just go back. Back to the moment when his path stretched out ahead of him; when happiness was an everyday feeling, and not something to be chased. Back to when his worst problem was which pair of acid-washed jeans to wear; to when the perfect girl sat next to him in English class. Back to 1986.
Fired up by his new mission, Peter packs up his life, turns off his cellphone, and moves back into his teenage bedroom. He lets his hair grow long, stuffs himself into those same acid-washed jeans and resolutely ignores everything about the world that didn’t exist in the mid-eighties. Throwing himself into the project of restoring his small town’s old movie theatre, he hides his true objective from everyone—to get a second chance with the first (and only true) love of his life: that perfect girl beside him in English class, Jennifer.
But time travel is never without its complications, especially when everyone else around you remains in the present. When even his perfect 1986 starts to show its cracks, Peter is finally forced to answer the question, can you every truly go back?
Go straight back to the ’80s with the help of this Someday Jennifer playlist. Pull up your leg warmers and enjoy the flowing mullets for – guaranteed – three hours and five minutes. Frankie say RELAX!
Where we’re going, we don’t need … roads. Crank up the volume all the way to 88 and transport yourself to Hill Valley!
Q: Is Someday Jennifer a true story?
A: I don’t think so. I’m married to Jessica.
Q: Is it autobiographical?
A: Well, it wasn’t a huge leap for me to get into the shoes of a middle-aged man in a mid-life crisis even if I’ve never done what Peter does in the book. I have seen Back to the Future a few dozen times and I would love to own a movie theatre. While I did do the dance, I never knew Jennifer or anybody like her. And don’t we all sometimes wonder what might have happened had we taken door number 2?
Q: So who are you?
A. For my CV, click here. That’s not the whole story, obviously. I was born and raised in Helsinki, Finland but I now live in Sollentuna, Sweden with my wife, two kids and Luffe, our one-year-old goldendoodle.
It’s sort of funny that I have been a freelance writer for fifteen years because I never planned it that way. I have a business degree from Helsinki Business School and I originally wanted to be either in advertising or a hockey player agent! Then I moved to Stockholm to work with custom publishing and was asked to write. My pieces got longer and I became a writer.
I even managed to combine hockey with my work and I’ve covered World Championships and Olympics, and big games in Europe and the NHL since 2003.
When I got the idea for this book, I decided to give writing a novel a serious shot. And here we are: Someday Jennifer came out in English in August, while the Swedish and Finnish editions will be published by HarperCollins Nordic in September.
Q: And this is your debut novel?
That’s right. I have written several hockey books, and most recently translated and edited Teemu Selanne’s biography. But Someday Jennifer is my debut novel and it’s very exciting.
Q: How did you get the idea for the story?
A. It came to me on a dark and stormy night as I was walking home from the gym listening to my “The Only Playlist You’ll Ever Need” playlist, and suddenly the main character started to speak to me.
Q: What did he say?
A: He said that he had had enough and he’d go back in time. And that he had figured out a way to do it, too.
Q: Then what happened?
A: I went home and started to write. In secret. I didn’t tell anyone that I was working on a novel, not even my wife. I used the Seinfeld method of setting a daily word goal for myself and making sure I hit it. Every day I drew a big black cross in my desk calendar and made sure never to break the chain. I didn’t and a few months later I had my first draft ready. And then I told Jessica who is my first reader for everything.
Q: Why Back to the Future?
A: [Author gasping for air, speechless]
Q: Seriously, why does Back to the Future play such a big part in the story? Why not Trading Places or E.T.?
A: It’s a wonderful movie, probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. And the theme of time travel was a perfect match, as was the fact that Peter would invite Christopher Lloyd to the premiere of Atlas. It was also an easy choice for me in that I didn’t even choose it. There is no Someday Jennifer without Back to the Future.
Q: Was it an easy choice to set the story in the 1980s?
A: Well, it’s actually set in 2016, but Peter is a time traveler and he wants to return to the 1980s. That choice was an easy one since I was a teenager in the 1980s and my experiences of living through that era have certainly left their stamp on me.
Q: Someday Jennifer is a feel-good book in the tradition of rom-com movies. Was that your plan?
A: It is a feel-good book, for sure, because that’s what I set out to write. I wanted to write a story in which the problems wouldn’t be about life and death, and a story with a happy end. I wanted to read a book that gave me hope and didn’t deal with horrors of life.
One of the lessons the main character learns as he struggles his way through the story is that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything, and if that sounds familiar to you, it’s what “Doc” Brown tells Marty McFly in Back to the Future. But what Peter has never really understood is that you have to put in the effort.
You will smile while reading Someday Jennifer. Guaranteed.
Q: The book is very cinematic. Who will play Peter and Jennifer in the movie?
A: [Laughs]. Martin Freeman and Lea Thompson.
A: No. There’s no movie.
Q: How much research did you do for the book?
A: I tell people that I did my research by living through the 1980s but now that I think back, I realize how much additional research I did, digging up details about the music and the movies of the time. I spent hours in the library reading newspapers from the 1980s, imagining what it would be like to go back and read about world events for the second time, as if living in the past, and already knowing how they would fold.
Q: I would love to visit Kumpunotko. Is it in Finland?
A: It is and it isn’t. You can’t find it in Google Maps because it doesn’t really exist – Kumpunotko is simply a translation of Hill Valley – but at the same time, it’s every small town in Finland. They all have a market square, a bank, a movie theatre (well, most of them do), stores along the main street, and like Peter’s father, some people seem to know everybody.
Q: What are the Top 10 songs to write to?
A: What a great question, you’re obviously a clever person. Well, I channeled my inner Kim – to those who haven’t read Someday Jennifer, he’s a record store owner character and also, please read the book – and after a two-hour back and forth with him, here’s the list.
1. Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
2. Live Every Moment by REO Speedwagon
3. We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
4. Night by Bruce Springsteen
5. Don’t Leave Me This Way by the Communards
6. Hysteria by Def Leppard
7. I Surrender by Rainbow
8. Song for Whoever by Beautiful South
9. Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners
10. Flashdance … what a feeling by Irene Cara