QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: As a bilingual person, what is the language you dream in?
A: This is an interesting topic. My dream
language depends on how long I stay in a country, there is always a
transition phase. The process of switching from one language to another
usually sets in after 2 weeks and takes about 1 week. Currently, I
dream mostly in English.
Q: You are speaking two languages, has this changed you?
A: Yes profoundly, because language is so important to me.
Q: What do you think about poetry translations?
A: There is no clear-cut answer. Some poems can
be translated without loss of meaning, content or rhythm. Others cannot
be translated at all. And then there are some that can be translated
into one language (eg English), but not into another (eg Italian).
Q: How did you become a writer?
A: By writing. I’ve written since I was a
child. As a kid, I thought that writers were the most terrific people
on this planet (a part of me still believes that). I always wanted to
be a writer!
Q: When do you write?
A: Mostly on weekends and in my lunch breaks.
Once a year, if I am lucky, a muse comes by, kisses me for 5 minutes -
and vanishes. This is a very unreliable business, so I don’t hold
my breath for it to happen. Instead, I seek a quiet spot at lunch and
then work while I’m eating - crumbling all over my papers and
leaving coffee stains (yes, I know it is not the Zen way of producing
art). At times, my writing process can be messy and imperfect, I'm
struggling to accept that.
Q: What do you think about mentors or teachers?
A: Mentors can be very important for
development. I am lucky to have great mentors, like the Editors Mark
Macleod, Peter Bishop, Petrima Thomas, Shelley Kenigsberg (at Byron Bay Festival and interview with Shelley Kenigsberg on ABC Radio National Bookshow). They all had a tremendous influence on
my writing. Every mentor
teaches you different skills that stay with you. The opportunity to
work with a professional on your text is one of the biggest gifts to a
Q: Do you think early morning is the best time to write?
A: I know it would sound good to say 'Yes', but
for me the answer is a definite 'No'. In my life, it's a bad time for
any activity that is more complex than brushing my teeth. Starting
before sunrise doesn't improve my writing. Early mornings are good for
sleeping or listening to the birds. Also, the deepest, darkest night
time is bad for writing, too many floating ghosts. Mid-mornings are a
great time, so are late afternoons.
Q: You work in Information Technology, isn’t that a bit odd for a writer?
A: No. In my opinion, writers need contact to
real life and interactions with all kinds of people. The IT environment
is exciting. Most people are smart, some are extraordinarily creative
and focused, and I enjoy their company.
Q: What are your favourite books?
A: Difficult question, as I love many books and
genres. To name just a few and in no particular order: John
Crowley’s "Little Big". Matt Ruff’s "Fool on the Hill. Jan
Willem van de Wetering’s, Der leere Spiegel" ("The Empty
Mirror"). Jerome D. Salinger’s "Franny & Zooey". Epictetus
"The Discourse". Dschuang Dsi’s "Das wahre Buch" vom westlichen
Blütenland (Zhuangzi). Lao Tse’s "Tao Te King" ("The Tao Te
Ching"). Jean-Paul Sartre’s "Das Spiel ist aus" ("The Game is
Up"). Strange and amazing books like Boris Vian’s "Der Schaum der
Tage" ("Foam of the Daze"). Luke Rhinehart’s "The Dice Man".
Malcolm Knox’ "Summerland".
Books can carry you. Years ago, during a rough patch in my life, Eugene
O’Neill's "A Long Day’s Journey into Night" and Fyodor
Dostoevsky’s "The Idiot" were very important to me. I admire Ray
Bradbury for his writing, he creates sheer beauty. I enjoy reading
Leigh Redhead's crime fiction ("Cherry Pie" her latest book in
the trilogy has just come out), and Katherine Howell ("Frantic"). I stay up all night to read Minette
thrillers (even though I’m usually wasted the next day). I love
Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" or JK Rowling's "Harry
I found Anne Sebold’s "The Lovely Bones"; Uwe Timm’s book
"Rot"; Reinhard Schlink’s "Der Vorleser" ("The Reader") very
impressive! And last but not least, I enjoy reading the work of Kim
Caraher, Susan Wills, and Alice Nelson.
Q: Some of your texts are dark, why?
A: Many things in this world are very dark too.
Why? I don’t know, but I do know that literature can help to deal
with that fact (not everybody has people, who can offer help). I try to
give back what I received over years from reading the right books at
the right time.
Q: What is your mission?
A: To write well. To write truthfully – even in fiction.
Q: Why do you think books are important, since there is film?
A: I like films and television, they have plenty of great effects.
However books will always do one thing better: allowing for an inner
dialogue to take place. They foster thinking. Only in a book is the
reader the creator of the whole world - this is not the case while watching a film.
Reading is a powerful process: we create what we read. Books give us creation and freedom.
They are filled with great thoughts that will stay in our mind, some we'll
remember forever. That’s why I love books.
Films don't provide that. So far, I hardly ever
a movie saying: ‘Great thoughts!’ Films are
mind-controlling, overpowering environments. In a best-case scenario, a
film is a guided tour through someone else’s head, it can be fun.
In a worst-case scenario, a film is a manipulative, freaky interaction
that messes with your brain and emotions. That’s the dark side
of this medium.
Q: What do you think about writers’ block?
A: It exists. It is an individual condition, since different writers have different personality structures.
Writers’ block is not the inability to write. It is the ability
to develop thoughts that lead to actions of self-sabotage. These
thoughts must be neutralised for the block to disappear.
Q: What do you think about rewrites?
A: Editing my own work is a tough job,
because I'm impatient by nature, and editing is an endurance sport.
You have to be absolutely Zen to rewrite a 300-page manuscript for
the nth time, yet in
my case this walk through the desert produces surprises. For
example, during the 11th draft, I discovered that I needed to shift the
whole story into a different direction.
Luckily, I write in modules (the same way that some
programmers write computer applications), so I was able to take some
modules/chapters out and 'plug' them into a different spot, tweak them
and write some new chapters to fill the gaps.
No doubt, editing is hard work, and I'm deeply grateful and appreciative of editors.
Q: What is your next project?
A: Since it is still in my workshop, I will
say only this: it’s a novel. It has a beginning, it has an end.
tend to be quite tight-lipped about my projects before they
reach maturity. Talking about a project can interfere with the