Art book Glow of the North depicts a mystic Nordic saga about the inception of the seasons. A result of multiple artists’ efforts, the book combines visual and textual storytelling. Glow of the North is now available at major online bookstores. Author Inka Tolonen describes how the book was conceived and how the complex project was successfully completed.
Glow of the North is an ambitious book. Multiple artists from different fields contributed to the project. How did you get everyone on board?
It took a long time to create a vision for the book because it happened in phases . Every artist had their own motivation to participate and to contribute. I believe working on a book has been a wonderful experience for all artists and a unique opportunity to create something new. Co-operation has been remarkable between all participants.
The book is an exciting combination of visual art, costume design, make-up artistry and poetry. Which one showed the way for the whole book?
For years, the illustrator of the book, Päivi Ruuska, had passionately worked on her costume, jewelry and textile art. During those years, professional photographers had captured a large collection of images of her works. Art photographs that you can view in this book originate from those photo sessions.
In 2013, Päivi Ruuska contacted me and proposed collaboration. We decided to create an art book so that I would write a story that was based on images from her collection. It became my job to pick up the photos and create a story, but we would work on the visual concept and layout together. Our goal was to create a beautifully illustrated and narrated art book.
Images I discovered from Päivi Ruuska’s collection were enchanting, making it difficult for me to pick up the ones for the book. After I had studied the images, I let some time pass by. Then, certain pictures started to draw me towards them, and at the same time, my mind was composing a story: a modern, mystical saga from the North. That was the origin of Glow of the North.
Originally, Glow of the North was written in Finnish. How was the English translation process?
Aino Huotari and Roger Nöel Smith did a great job in translation.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the book was discovered as a souvenir from Finland. I can also envision Glow of the North on a stage of a dance theater along with music that expresses the world of fantasy.
Which books would you recommend to your readers, and what kind of books do you read yourself?
I’d like to mention my next book Haltijat (Fairies) that will be published in 2015. The book introduces the works of Finnish fairy mother and doll artist Tuija Leinonen. Many sensitive and funny true stories along with plenty of fairy images are featured in the book. Today, fairies created by Leinonen live in more than 20 countries.
In addition to art books, I like to read aphorism collections and biographies.
What are you planning to do next?
My next book, Haltijat (Fairies), will be published soon. After that, I will take a break from writing for a large book project.
I am, however, considering writing a series of fairy tales for children. I already have a collection of stories that I wrote when I studied writing. Perhaps my fairy tales will be published one day.
More information about Glow of the North here, and information on the Finnish edition, which is titled Pohjolan hehku.