James Thompson’s path to publication was an unusual one. It began in a pub with a conversation about literature. Thompson didn’t know he was chatting with a managing editor for WSOY, Northern Europe’s largest publisher. The talk resulted in a request for a manuscript and initiated a series of firsts in the history of Finnish commercial fiction.
Within weeks of the submission, Thompson had a three book deal with WSOY. No Finnish debut commercial fiction writer had received a multi-book deal prior to publication before. That deal garnered record breaking advances in Finland for a debut author. Thompson was branded as a domestic Finnish author, another first. It had never happened to a foreign author before, and hasn’t since. After the publication of five novels, and co-authoring an educational book, teaching English to Finnish learners, Thompson is a well-established fixture in the Finnish literary scene. His contributions to Finnish literature are exemplified by multiple and sizable grants from the prestigious arts foundations, WSOY:n Kirjallisuussäätiö and Kirjailijoiden ja Kääntäjien Kirjastoapurahalautakunta.
Thompson was discovered a second time, unrelated to the first, when a major U.S. literary agent heard of him and requested a novel. Four days after Thompson emailed it, the agent took him on, and within weeks, had made deals for him in the U.S. and half a dozen other countries.
That novel, Snow Angels, the first in the Inspector Vaara series, was released in the U.S. by Putnam and marked his entrance into the international crime fiction scene. Booklist named it one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010, and it was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. His second Vaara novel, Lucifer’s Tears, released in March, 2011, earned starred reviews from every major industry review publication, and was named one the best novels of the year by Kirkus. The third in the series, Helsinki White, was released to critical acclaim in 2012. The fourth in the series, Helsinki Blood, will be published in March, 2013.
With his first internationally published novel, Snow Angels, James Thompson proved himself Finland’s best and most popular representative in the rise of Nordic noir. He remains Finland’s bestselling international crime writer. Thompson is also a noted essayist and reviewer. He writes for various websites, including International Crime Writers Reality Check, which draws on average 40,000 unique visitors per week, and writes reviews for The New York Journal of Books. He is now entering the realm of screenwriting, as international film rights for the first three books in the Inspector Vaara series have been optioned.
American by birth, Thompson, age forty-eight, has lived in Finland for fifteen years. He resides in Helsinki with his Finnish wife. He has a Master’s degree in English Philology from The University of Helsinki, where he also studied Finnish, in which he is fluent. He has studied six languages. Thompson is represented by Penn Whaling of Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. His U.S. publisher is G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and at present his works are distributed by a dozen publishers worldwide. In the past, Thompson has worked as a bartender, bouncer, construction worker, and soldier.