There are many reasons for self-publishing. A lot of publishing is based on trends, sales and publicity. I love many traditionally published works, but I’ve always been drawn to the unique, quirky and original. I’ve found that in the small presses and in self-publishing endeavors.
One recent find was the work of Marko Kitti, a Finnish writer who now resides in England. He’d published four books in Finnish, but decided to write one in English after someone challenged him and said that his English wasn’t good enough.
The result is Jesper Jinx, a middle grade chapter books series. Jesper is the most unlucky boy in all of Puffington Hill. He’s constantly having his tricks backfire on him. And he doesn’t quite know how to stop himself from trying more.
Kitti decided to self-publish, not sure his quirky work would find an audience. But he’s found enough of one that he’s now got 4 books in the series, and they are translated into many different languages.
There’s a lot of playfulness in Kitti’s work, including the voice he’s chosen to tell the stories. Jesper, a real boy he says, approached him, The Scribbler, a bored writer who hasn’t found anything to write about in the quiet of Puffington Hill. Jesper says:
“You must promise not to tell anyone. If my mum and dad find out, they will have me grounded for the rest of my life….You will write a book about my amazing true stories, but you will never get my permission to publish it. Got it?”
We are sworn to secrecy about reading these stories. The Scribbler writes what Jesper says, but then cats, squirrels, and other characters get their say-so, adding details and humor to the stories.
This has proven to be a good book for a certain 10 year old reluctant reader I know. We’re reading it together on my Ipad Kindle. The idea of reading is much more palatable to him on screen than on paper, since he’s always behind in his homework and he associates books with work. With this series, he’s reading ahead on his own.
The different voices in the stories have given us a way of talking about how stories are told. We also get to discuss the difference between American and British English. Then we get to talk about different cultures. My young friend is enchanted by the idea that a boy who has a lot of “failures” can also be the subject of a book, and find a sense of pride even when he gets many things wrong.
We’ve read Jesper Jinx and Jesper Jinx and The Sneezing Season and are looking forward to the rest of the series.
If you’d like to learn more about the Jesper Jinx series, here’s the website for the books.
Marko Kitti also has a blog you can read here.