10 Questions: Katja Pantzar


  1. Is there a breakfast item without which you cannot start the day?

Fruit muesli topped with lingonberries.

  1. Your newest book, Finding Sisu: In Search of Courage, Strength and Happiness the Finnish Way, has attracted wide publicity around the globe. Why do you think people are so interested in it?

I think that people around the world are really interested in Finland, as it ranks high in so many international quality of life comparisons – recently nabbing top spot in the 2018 World Happiness Report, for example – and because there are so many unique qualities here such as a safe capital city surrounded by the sea and lots of nature. Add to that the country’s much-lauded education system, a rich design and innovation heritage (to mention but a few elements), and there’s a real thirst for information about Finland and the Finnish lifestyle.

  1. When did you last show some true Finnish sisu yourself?

Good question! Last week I flew to New York for the launch of the American edition of my book and did 16 satellite radio interviews back to back – jet-lagged and on a few hours of sleep.

  1. What has been the most fascinating topic to write about during your career?

Other people’s stories – I’m endlessly curious about what makes people tick, how they overcome challenges, what makes them happy, and what makes them thrive.

  1. Who has been your most influential role model?

My eight-year-old son, who inspires me just about every day.

  1. You have been raised in Canada, with periods in New Zealand and the UK. What role does your Finnish heritage play in your life?

It has instilled in me a Nordic practicality of trying to live simply and sensibly – and with sisu.

  1. Where do you go to write?

I have a desk in a shared workspace with some other writers and journalists in the Kallio neighbourhood of Helsinki.

  1. What sole item would take with you to a deserted island?

A good book!

  1. What makes you lose track of time?

Being in nature at a remote cottage in the Finnish countryside.

  1. What is next on your to-do list?

The proposal for my next book.


*This article was originally published in August 2018.


Photo: Katja Tähjä

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