is your background?
I was born in rural Finland many decades
ago. After graduating from college,
I traveled and worked in several European
countries for fun, experience and adventure.
I have no degree in sewing, cooking,
writing, publishing, or marketing, but
I learned common sense as a farmer's
daughter and this intuition has serviced
me unexpectedly well in this business.
brought you to Canada?
I got married and my husband suggested
we move either to Australia or Canada,
the two countries at that time that
easily accepted immigrants. So I chose
Canada, the climate here being similar
to Finland. And, as a child, I had admired
a Montreal skyscraper on a candy wrapper
and often dreamed of one day visiting
that city. And here I live, in Montreal,
did you start publishing books?
I stayed at home taking care of my
two children, with energy to burn and
in need of a bit of pocket money. I
made adorable outfits for my kids for
pennies out of remnants and got constant
compliments from strangers and friends
alike. I was sure that no publisher
would be even remotely interested in
my ideas so I started self-publishing
sewing books and co-founded a publishing company. I did it as revenge
for being turned down for my pattern
ideas by one magazine. I had no idea
what I was doing and thought I had invented
self-publishing. I aimed high and sent
my little book to Family Circle Magazine.
The loved it and featured it in a full-page
article. Mail orders poured in (over
20,000). Upon filling the orders, I
sent customers brochures of other books
in the works. I got enough orders to
pay for the print runs before those
new books were even written. And just
like that I was in business, involving
the whole family. Now I have nine books
and have sold close to 300,000 books
about sewing, Halloween costumes, crafts
and cooking. I have been featured in
more than 450 magazine articles, newspapers,
and books. Later, I founded, my own
company, Tikka Books (see tikkabooks.com).
I am still in shock; it's a good thing
I did not know it would turn out this
way, or I might have been terribly intimidated,
with no courage to even begin.
your latest book?
I have turned my real-life experience
into many books. When I was diagnosed
with breast cancer in 2000, that too
eventually became a book. I did not
want to write about just my own story
(who would want to read that?) or a
medical book (I am not qualified for
that, plus medical information changes
rapidly). Rather, I wanted to write
a book I wish had existed when I was
diagnosed. So I collected real-life
snippets of wisdom and tips from 125
breast cancer survivors. I was looking
for a variety of points of view, from
women who are all on the same road.
Dancing With Fear: Tips and Wisdom
from Breast Cancer Survivors is
a support group you carry with you.
important is customer feedback?
Both writing and marketing are challenging
and rewarding. Customer feedback and
official reviews are crucial and guide
me. I have more of a contact with my
readers than trade-published authors.
One said, "I would buy anything
you write!" One phoned and thanked
me for coming to Canada and giving her
permission to sew; her home economics
teachers had scolded her in high school
and said not to waste her time or money
on sewing and fabrics, so she never
dared to sew—until she discovered
my books and, at mid-life, discovered
she enjoyed sewing and was good at it.
Such comments give me enormous energy
and courage. Booklist called my Halloween
book a goldmine. Some contributors to
my breast cancer book thanked me for
a chance to write about their experience
and said it was cathartic and therapeutic.
has been your biggest disappointment?
One of my earliest books, Easy
Halloween Costumes for Children,
sold over 100,000 copies after getting
lots of publicity. So I wrote a follow
up, Illegally Easy Halloween Costumes
for Kids, in full color with exquisite
photos and color-coded patterns and
matching treat bags. The book was well
received, but I realized people do not
make costumes anymore (even the no-sew
hotglued versions in my book), since
they are so busy, and it is so tempting
to buy a made-in-China costume at the
are your plans for future books?
One book leads to another. I plan to
compile more Dancing With Fear
titles—one is a second volume
from breast cancer survivors, and one
is a similar book but with feedback
from families and friends of breast
cancer survivors. I have other ideas
but I try hard no to think of them;
it's better to devote my time and energy
to one book at a time and then concentrate
on marketing until another book demands
to be written.