Olli Toivanen's
How to hijack elevators


I write all kinds of stuff because I'm easily bored.

Scribbling

I write funny stuff, mostly; or at least I think it is funny.

I try to write realistic stuff, too; this tends to be not very realistic. (A recent example: “Should I write a sort of a thriller that takes place in the Finnish countryside? Should I put a death cult, murderous hicks, and cows with writing on them in it? Why yes I should.”)

I wrote a novel every November from 2006 to 2013. The 2010–2013 ones were in English, the earlier ones in Finnish. They're all unpublished. They were of… varying quality; in some the wheels fell off midway through. (In Feynman's words, “there's plenty of room at the bottom!”)

I write fan fiction, too; who doesn't? (Er, Ranma ½ and Harry Potter and Marvel… no no, no samples.)

I used to blog a lot, too; the blog's name was Masks of Eris. These days I comment on Reddit, mostly writing amusing nonsense.

Novels I've actually written

All are in the range of 50–60k words unless otherwise stated. This means “short”.

Five in Finnish (2006–2010)

  1. Päivä yliopistolla [A Day at the University] (2006)

    A day passes at your standard university, in a humorous fashion, and the actions of a wide variety of universitypeople are observed. Towards the end, there's even something like a plot, though it involves magic and the undead.

  2. Yliopiston loppu [The End of A University] (2007)

    In 2050, a university has closed down, and a few of the ex-students wonder why. That is, after a lot of plot-irrelevant futuristic handwaving, a plot-irrevelevant Southeast Asian revolution, and a lot of hoopla about a creepy pseudo-Moomin children's book character.

  3. Illuminatus '08 / Tyhjän kortin uhrit [The Victims of A Blank Card] (2008)

    A Satanist girl investigates the bloody aftermath of a conspiracy theorist commune in Helsinki. There's also smallpox, and an actual real overarching plot!

    As for “Illuminatus”: at the time I thought it would be really good to write a modern version of the Illuminatus! trilogy, with all the weird conspiracy theories people have come up with since the 1970s. This book didn't have that scope and, uh, given how too many people believe such things these days the idea does not seem so entertaining anymore.

  4. HANAKO [HANAKO HANAKO] (2009)

    In a step towards fantasy, the author's own university is the second-biggest in Finland. Also ghosts exist but science has, so far, been unsuccessful in establishing any other facts about them. So far. But in the seemingly unconnected meanwhile, a graduate student's day starts with finding a human skull in his office desk's drawers, continues with the department head saying “Oh, one more of those. Follow me.”, and soon involves mathematicians walking in a circle, and in black robes, droning prayers to the spirits of Banach and Euler.

    There's a plot, but unfortunately I change to a different, more exciting plot halfway through.

  5. Maan alla [Underground] (2010)

    A universityperson (hey, write what you know!) moves to the countryside to save money between grants. Unfortunately she moves next to a clan of very unfriendly hicks, and into a house whose last occupants just… you know… went away. Possibly… you know… underground.

Four in English (so far) (2011–2014)

  1. I God Problems (2011)

    A regular guy wakes up sleeping on a fresh reproduction of the Shroud of Turin, totters to the toilet, and gets wine instead of water shooting from the faucets. It appears he is a god now, with a lowercase “g”, or at least a jesus. Unfortunately as a secular Finnish student person he has no theology, and given the multicultural nature of society, he's not the only new demigod in town.

    I hate this title but I haven't come up with a better one yet. Written, but the ending sucks and blows; I have some inklings of a better one.

  2. Call of the Void (2012)

    Two foreigners end up in a remote Finnish village, and get involved in a case of several people who've disappeared. Then several people reappear who really shouldn't. Soon bears appear and things get worse.

    Have a taste of the first 25 pages (pdf link).

    I wrote it; the ending was weak. I've half-written a stronger ending, and I really like the rest.

  3. Ice Milk (2013)

    A brother gets to go to Switzerland on an odd job, fixing vintage electrical devices in a purposefully-period retirement village. He gets into investigating a mysterious, and also period, murder case. In the meanwhile, back in Finland, his sister thinks his brother is not a good guy.

    Have a taste of this one too, for about thirty pages (pdf link).

    A confused mess of an epistolary novel, because a novel in letters gets weird when the characters don't write that much. Thus descriptions of increasingly contrived surveillance footage and the inevitable “from an unknown recorder”. Also, it doesn't help that the plot past the midpoint is “then these bits come together as something really cool and scary”. Fell apart at the end but could be rescued with heavy rewriting.

  4. CYOA1k / untitled (2014)

    A Choose-Your-Own-Paths (agh, the proper term in copyrighted) book, describing a normal mathematician's normal day at a normal mathematical conference. All “normal”:s can easily vanish if you make the wrong/right choices. At 80k words, and about 2/3 done, maybe. (You never know when a simple dead-end choice blooms into a few thousand words of a Lovecraft pastiche.)

From this it might be gathered that I suck in writing endings.

Well, at least endings.

After that, the wheels fell off: these were all November products of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month: you got 30 days to get past 50k words! After 2014 I had a series of years where my November was just too busy. Without that time limit I've started plenty of others but haven't finished them.