A graphic designer from Finland, Enni now lives in New Zealand and has self-published two novels. Read on to find out more about her books, writing in English as a second language, her tips on self-publishing and more.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in mid-southern Finland, but we moved around the country quite a bit during my childhood. When I was 16, I moved to a special high school for the arts.
I married very young and we spent two years renovating a house in Karkkila, over an hour’s drive from Helsinki. We burned out and didn’t want to see that house ever again.
What brought you to New Zealand?
We needed a fresh start. I was working days and my husband was working nights, so we hardly saw each other. We wanted to give our relationship one more try, and we thought maybe we could make it work if we changed everything.
We’d been watching The Lord of the Rings, so we chose New Zealand. In 2006, we sold our house and everything in it and moved across the world.
We’ve now been married over 20 years and have an 8-year-old and one young one.
What’s your career background?
I did a four-year degree in graphic design and started work in that field. It was my ticket out of Finland, as it’s a profession I could take with me. It was easy enough to find work in Auckland and weirdly easy to get permanent residency. I told immigration that I had a job and I needed residency, and it came through in three weeks. There must have been an angel working in immigration.
How did you get into writing?
Growing up, my dream job was to be an author. I always loved writing, and I produced my first book at 11. We had an old computer, an Amstrad. In the days before the convenience of using a mouse, I had to learn the key commands to open, save and print documents. That was how I wrote my story.
The book was an adventure with short chapters set on the coast of Norway, featuring our dolls. My sister, who was three years younger than I, was my biggest fan. She was always waiting for the next chapters. I made her the hero while my character was the sucker who always got in trouble.
What genre do you write now?
It’s probably romantic comedy, although that’s not really a genre on Amazon. I struggle with the terminology, but it has lots of flavours – elements of romance and chick lit, as well as women’s fiction themes, such as a character striving to find her birth father.
Your penname is Enni Amanda, is there a reason for this?
People struggle with my last name, Tuomisalo, so I use Amanda, my middle name. It was also my grandmother’s name.
Can you please share the blurb for A Tiny House on Wheels?
Ready to start fresh, 36-year-old Nina packs her bags and heads for the New Zealand countryside. Equipped with only a tiny house and a not-so-green thumb, life in the bush isn’t quite what she expected — but the cute farmer on the plot next door might brighten her outlook!
After his father’s death, Jay is used to a solitary life and he’s more comfortable with the veggies than with people. But who needs social skills? In the backside of Raglan, nothing ever happens. Until a cute, Finnish blonde moves into the neighbouring lot, in a ridiculous tiny house. Can Jay work out his issues and take a chance on the most exotic thing that’s ever walked into his life?
Can you please share the blurb for Coffee on Waihi Beach?
After uprooting her life in Finland, Ingrid travels to New Zealand to track down her long-lost father. The last thing on her mind is romance – until she lands a job at a local café and meets gorgeous barista Declan. Ingrid’s holiday n dreamy Waihi Beach heats up!
A law student from a wealthy family, Declan attracts women without even trying. To ease his guilt over a past incident, he offers to help his awkward friend Kurt win the girl for once, the cute traveller Ingrid – a girl with secrets, and a penchant for getting in trouble. Declan can be a good friend and let this one go. Or can he?
How did you come to write a novel?
For the longest time, I thought I could never publish anything in English, because it’s not my first language. I spent about 10 years writing screenplays because I was studying film and I thought screenplays were a safe space and that viewers wouldn’t judge me for my writing. I stayed in that lane and made some short films and wrote a pilot for a series.
At last, I was prompted by my life situation – I really wanted another baby, but my husband didn’t. We wrestled with that for a few years, so I thought I might as well focus my energy on something else and create a book baby. Then I fell pregnant. I knew I wouldn’t have time for anything else when the baby arrived, so I put a deadline on myself of Christmas 2018.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I didn’t have high aspirations to begin with. I only wanted to get my book out there, to share it with a few people. I knew nothing about self-publishing, but I googled and found Smashwords and decided to publish through them. I had a few beta-readers (test readers who give feedback on an unpublished work) and worked up my courage. I did my own book covers.
Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It’s a long journey and I am constantly learning more.
Do you design book covers for others?
Yes, cover design is another passion I developed as I got more into writing. I love illustrated covers. I’m sure I could do others, but I enjoy the unlimited imagination in illustrations. Photographs are more defined – you can edit them, but there’s less freedom.
Do you have any advice for authors considering self-publishing?
I wish I’d written at least two books before I started. If you keep testing and learning – more beta-readers and more rounds of edits – you get a decent product. There’s no need to rush it.
At the beginning, it’s easy to spend too much on marketing. I only spend what I make from book sales. I’ve been lucky enough to land a couple of BookBub featured deals – a company which sends emails to millions of readers. They only take free or discounted books, but one promotion can bring you hundreds or even thousands of new readers. It works better if you have a longer backlist.
It’s also good to have something free to give out, so I’m working on a novella to publish at Christmas time.
Most of all, writers need to know that they don’t have to please everyone. Out of the millions of readers out there, you only need to find your one thousand true fans. It’s very satisfying to build relationships with the readers who enjoy your books. I find it one of the most beautiful things about self-publishing.
I’d also love to encourage anybody who wants to write with English as a second language. If your native tongue doesn’t have a big enough market, or if you don’t feel comfortable writing in it, write in English. Sometimes there are advantages: you don’t make the same mistakes and you don’t sound the same. You come to writing from a different sense, you just need an editor who understands you and who can fix the weird things you do.
I’m editing my third book, Nest or Invest, which is inspired by the property market. There’s a massive divide between the haves and have nots in real estate. We still haven’t bought a house in New Zealand. We’re sitting on a deposit, but now prices are going up and we’re stuck in limbo, wondering what to do.
When writing romance, I always fall in love with the male lead. This time, I wanted to see if I could fall in love with a property developer, someone I wouldn’t necessarily care for in real life. So, it’s been interesting.
The novel can be read as a standalone, but it’s part of a duet, which means I’m working on the sequel at the same time. This is a new exercise for my brain. Nest or Invest is coming out in January and is available for pre-order on Amazon.