Author Sofi Oksanen shares with Olga Smirnova how she begins a new novel. Olga witnesses how Sofi painstakingly gathers details for the lives of her characters, from choosing the colour of their nail varnish, to the perfumes they prefer, and the difference in the smell of Estonian and Soviet women. Olga visits Sofi’s writing studio in a bohemian quarter of Helsinki where they both listen to the silence which is so important for Sofi to write. We discover why sometimes kneading dough and chopping carrots or onions can help the process. Having an Estonian heritage, Sofi is fascinated by Soviet history. The theme of war in Ukraine is never far from Olga's conversations with Sofi as they discuss how it impacts upon the writing process.

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