Back to Speculative Fiction Writer. This week I have the pleasure of introducing a new writing friend, Katharina Gerlach.
Hi Katharina. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with me. Pull up a chair and take a seat. Don't forget to help yourself to some light refreshments. Here we go:
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing?
Not writing? As any author can tell you that's not part of the job description. Even if I'm not sitting on my keyboard or scribbling in a notebook, I'm writing. I create worlds, hold interviews with my characters, listen to their complaints (yes they do become quite real for me given enough time), plan the next few scenes and more. My kids always chide me for being so absent minded.
Oh yea, about me… I'm a studied forester from Germany with an insatiable hunger for good, fast paced stories. Since I couldn't find enough at affordable prices, I began writing and publishing my own. I even do have an agent, but German publishers are a little too scared about the eBook revolution to take on projects without a clearly defined genre (and YA is NOT a genre in Germany).
Q: If I came to visit, what would I find on your bookshelves?
My private ones? Lots and lots of mythology, fairly tales, fantasy and science fiction, crime stories and even more childrens and Young adult books. My favourites are the stories by Diana Wynne Jones (I'm trying to write as imaginative stories as she did), Astrid Lindgren (I try to make my characters as likeable as hers) and Neil Gaiman (I'm trying to create worlds as intriguing as his).
Q: If you could describe yourself using a punctuation mark, which would you be and why?
I always question everything. There's no word leading to more interesting discoveries then "Why…"
Q: What is your favourite writing quote?
O dear, there are so many good ones, I don't think I can settle on one. I've got a whole database filled with them. These are currently my favourites:
1. You cannot rewrite an empty page. (NaNoWriMo participant 2011)
2. If you follow all the instructions you will miss all the fun. (Kathrine Hebburn)
3 Anybody can make the simple complicated. Writing is making the complicated simple. (Charlie Mingus)
Q: You've published several fantasy, horror, and historical novels. Do you have a favourite genre?
Except for the horror anthology, all my stories are for young adult or middle grade readers because that's the sort of book I love reading myself (says a 45-year old who is probably insane). Still, I try to always add something that appeals to older readers too. Inside this age bracket, I'm wide open for everything my Muse sends me (that's my term for my creative side, and she likes being called that. Her name's Klio, BTW). My most favourite genre is fantasy, closely followed by SciFi and historical.
Q: Would you like to share an extract from one of your books with us?
How about something I haven't even revised yet? It's brand new from the press… screen… word processing software… whatever. You know what I mean, right? Here it is (I even changed the spelling to British):
Luna straightened as best she could with the chain leading from the shackles on her hands to the ones on her feet. She would show defiance even though her heart felt raw when she glanced at her brother. Bound with the same heavy iron chains, Mondo stumbled along by her side, staring blindly at the blue carpet with the yellow embroidery that lined the long way from the throne room’s door to the dais. Luna would have loved to take his hands to comfort him but due to the shackles that was impossible. Instead, she focused her anger on her father.
Two Royal Guards in blue and yellow uniforms dragged his limp body forward. He whined and whimpered – well, why did he have to jump off the castle’s wall? He should have known he’d break a leg or two. He should count himself lucky, Luna thought.
A guy in a flowing blue robe slammed a wonderfully carved staff on the ground. The thump reverberated through the floorboards and echoed through the big hall. “Roberto Ramirez – accused of stealing royal property.”
A squire stepped forward and presented a blue velvet cushion. On it lay a yellow rose. Luna marvelled at the craftsmanship, for this was no ordinary rose. It was cut from a single ruby. The petals had a beautiful yellow shine, and the rose’s heart glowed dark red. The lustre blazed despite the artificial light of the gas lamps on the columns that supported the hall’s roof. A single one of those roses would support a whole family for as long as they lived.
Luna understood why her father had tried to steal one. After all, the king was rumoured to have a whole box. Still, her dad was no professional thief. How could he have hoped to get away with this? He knew the laws as well as every citizen. She jutted her chin and stared defiantly at the king who was whispering with a man at his side.
Surprised by the age of the king’s advisor, he couldn’t be much older than she was, she forgot to curtsey as she had been instructed to do. She stared at the most handsome man she’d ever seen. His broad shoulders invited her to lean against them, and the slender waist needed hugging. Despite the trouble they were in, her heart ached to touch him. Pain shot through her back as the butt of a guard’s lance reminded her of her duty. She sank down until her knees touched the floor but she didn’t bow her head. Someone had to pretend the family’s honour was still worth a dime, and anyway. Lowering her head would mean she could no longer look at the king’s advisor.
“Well, culprit, is there anything you can say for your defence?” The young man beside the king didn’t look as if he was expecting an answer. Due to the king’s facial veil, Luna couldn’t see much of his features, but his hands looked soft and young. She dismissed him. Her gaze clung to the brown haired youth with the slender hips and the wide shoulders at his side. Startled, she realized the iciness in the Spokesman’s eyes. Although he made Luna hot all over, he studied her father with an expression that would have befitted a biologist analyzing a frog’s internal organs.
Q: What advice would you give to a writer wanting to publish in several genres?
Be prepared to write many more books per year than one genre writers. Financial success will take much longer if you've got to build three (or more) different brands. Most Indie authors I know write one or two series in roughly the same genre. The good ones already earn more than I do, but I'm catching up – slowly.
Q: What are you working on now?
A steampunk retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast" mixed with some romance. It's my first try at emphasizing the romance, and I find it fun, although I'll surely need to add a lot more in revision.
Since Bryanna grows up in Scotland, she is familiar with hobgoblins, selkies and kelpies from the tales of her mother country. But she is very surprised when she starts seeing these creatures one day. Is she hallucinating? Before she can ask her father's advice, he is kidnapped by a woman whose scent seems awfully familiar. Instead of calling the police, Bryanna follows the kidnapper and lands smack-dab in the middle of the adventure of her life. It's just as well she knows the old legends and myths well. The world she lands in is murderously dangerous. And even if she survives the journey, she is fated to kill her father.
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Thank you, Katharina. Through the internet and social media, I've met writers from all over the world. However, you're the first writer from Germany. It was great getting to know you and your writing. Like you, I'm always scribbling notes or daydreaming plot lines. Writing is one of those professions where you just never have a day off.
I'll be back on Friday, with two fabulous cover reveals from Stephanie Beerden and Sharon Bayliss. Until then, happy reading and writing.