I started writing the book that eventually became Searching for Satu in 1986, just a few years after the period in which it’s set. Five years later it had grown into a 250,000 word monster entitled Ten Days in May, which proved unpublishable. So in the early 90s I detached the last 40% of this magnum opus to create the first formulation of Satu, which went through innumerable rewrites before being published by Citron Press in June 1999.
People often ask me what the word Satu means, questioning the wisdom of having an unfamiliar word in the title. I’ve toyed with several other titles over the years (The Veil, The Return of Ricky Finn…) but I always returned to Satu. Partly that’s because you discover its meaning when you read the book; but mostly it’s because I like the irritant factor of an alliteration that forces people to think about it. A little bit of WTF sticks in the mind.
Any author worth their salt mixes fiction and reality so inextricably that not even they can quite remember where one ends and the other begins. I had wonderful times in Finland in the early 1980s; and what I experienced was woven into the plot of the book and reworked so many times that I’m no longer sure what was false memory, what was invention and what was real. And I love it that way. My father was also an unwitting contributor, when his family research revealed a closer genetic link between two of our relatives than anyone could explain. That discovery fired my imagination and drove Ricky Finn on his search for the dark secrets of his family’s past.
The Citron Edition
Nowadays I know a lot about the failure rate among innovative, high-tech businesses. One of the commonest causes is being ahead of your time: trying to make a viable business out of a technology for which the world is not yet ready. Another is an inadequate distribution strategy. Citron Press suffered from both and I guess many other Citron authors share my mixed feelings about the whole experiment. Citron were pioneers of print-on-demand technology and they prepared the way for those who followed. If Amazon had existed back then, maybe it could have worked: but online retailing had not yet become a viable route to market. They were aiming to be pioneers of eBooks, too: but the tech bubble burst just as eBooks were beginning to take off. I was left with a book that had been starting to get some great coverage in the media but which was no longer available to buy.
Yet as any West Coast tech entrepreneur will tell you, failure is a necessary building block on the road to success. Without Citron, we would probably not have IngramSpark; and eBooks have boomed with Kindle and others. The whole world of hybrid, independent publishing, of which Citron were harbingers, has blossomed in ways we could barely have imagined at the end of the last century.
The New Edition
The independent publishing revolution has given Searching for Satu a new lease of life, making it possible to issue a revised, streamlined edition that takes on board all the feedback I received from readers first time around. It has never been a more exciting time to be an author of new and different fiction; or to have a new product to sell into a world where both author and reader have so much choice and so many options. If you have been searching for something that will transport you to a different world and entrance you, then I hope you find it in Satu.
PS: if you can’t find the paperback version on Amazon, simply click on my name under the title of the Kindle eBook version and it will take you to a page where you can see and order the paperback.