Anmerkung für meine deutschen Leser:
Dieser Artikel erscheint zuerst in englischer Sprache und demnächst in deutscher. Ich bitte die Leser, die sich nicht so mit der englischen Sprache auseinandersetzen möchten um ein wenig Geduld.
Now the talented author answered some questions I sent him.
If you want to get to know Stefan Kiesbye a little bit – please enjoy the following Q&A 🙂
thank you so much for taking part in my Q&A. I know its a busy time for you with your normal work and with promoting „The Staked Plains“ just before its release at the end of November. Hopefully this little Q&A comes in quite nice to take your mind off the stress and to relax a little bit.
Here are the questions:
1. You were born and raised in Germany. Do you still miss the country sometimes or is it just special people you miss? What is your loveliest memory of living in this country?
Once in a while, some image or memory will pop out and then I feel the urge to go back and visit. The Christmas markets, hours spent with friends in coffee shops. I do miss two friends from my time in Berlin, and I don’t see them often enough. My loveliest memory might be spring in Berlin. The city was never more beautiful than in April and May. Life seemed to return.
2. When was the last time you visited Germany – or any other part of Europe? (If so, what did you like the most while staying here?)
I visited Germany in 2011, but I stayed in Lisbon this past summer. I love the cheap food and wine, but most of all I love how much time people seem to have to talk to friends and neighbors. And so much life is going on in the streets. Of course, big cities are always somewhat hectic and fast-paced, but still, there always seems to be enough time to have a coffee and a pastry, enough time for a chat.
3. How is living in California different from living in Germany at the Baltic Sea? I am sure the weather is much nicer than here 🙂 What is – through your eyes – the biggest difference between living in Germany and living in America?
Yes, the weather is lovely year round. For me, the biggest difference between the countries is the American openness to change. The father of one of my students recently received his doctorate in psychology, and he’s 55. If you feel dissatisfied with your career, nobody will hold it against you if you start a new one. That flexibility is lovely. Unfortunately, the social safety net is not very firm. Small mistakes can turn catastrophic.
4. Being a teacher for Creative Writing at Sonoma State University – what was the most impressive thing a student of you wrote recently?
There are a number of stories that were impressive, but one sticks out for its disturbing atmosphere (which is beautifully rendered). A woman suspects that her husband might have been involved in the shooting death of a young couple that spent the night camping at the beach. Their life together seems over, but how do you act on your suspicions? How do you make that break? The mixture of fear, distrust, and utter sadness is mesmerizing.
5. Your latest novel „The Staked Plains“ is about a medium who seems to have more powers than she thought and about a time and place when people are trying to get through hard times. That’s just the short version of what really goes on in the book.
* What are your thoughts about the main character of the book, Jenny?
* Did you have a clear vision of her when you started writing the book – or did her character evolve during writing?
* What is the reason behind your choice of Saddle Road Press as the publishing company?
Jenny was relatively complete as a character when I started the book, but it was still surprising to see what she was capable of. I love her not because she’s doing noble deeds, but because she knows that what she’s doing is terrible and decides anyway to allow herself these transgressions. She realizes early on that her decisions are bad, and yet, she continues on her path because she wants to see what will happen. She wants things and people with great urgency.
Novellas, while they have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance here, are a mainstream editor’s nightmare. Apparently, large publishers can’t recoup the money they spend on novellas. But independent publishers work differently, and for them, these short works of fiction are viable. I love working with Saddle Road Press because they design and produce each of their books meticulously. They also allowed me to have some input in the production process. I saw every page before it went to press.
6. I recently reread your novel „Your house is on fire, your children all gone“ in German language. There it is called „Hemmersmoor“. This was also a reading recommendation by a person I really admire.
Do you have a person in your life who you trust with recommendations about what to read?
Why – do you think – is it important to have such people (may it be friends, family or just people you admire) in your life?
Are you „this person“ in someone else’s life?
Currently I don’t have anyone who provides me with reading recommendations, which is a pity. But students will often tell me about their reading adventures, and I keep a list of books I need to order.
There are a number of people I admire, and the most important ones were able to give advice during times I felt stuck. Often they were teachers. Dagmar von Thomas, my acting teacher in Berlin, helped me through some particularly rough times. Irving Feldman, my first creative writing teacher, was the most perceptive reader imaginable, and helped me not getting lost.
I try to be as “there” as I can, but you never know what people take away from encounters with you. You can only be the person you are, and that’s hard work.
7. Just talking about recommendations of books to read – do you have a special book (or books) you would like to recommend to the readers of my blog?
8. As my blog is also about other media than books I would like to ask you a little bit about your other interests. What – besides reading and writing and your family – is the thing that’s interesting to you? Do you enjoy watching movies or series – or are you the nature guy who loves to go hiking and taking pictures – or is it something different from the „normal“ activities?
I wish my activities were different, but they are pretty ordinary. I do enjoy TV a lot more these days than movies. Series like The Fall (with Gillian Anderson), Broadchurch, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men, I’ve been watching with great devotion. And I’m in love with British crime dramas, from Lewis to Inspector Linley and DCI Banks.
I’m not a big nature guy, but my wife and I have three very large dogs, and they need a lot of exercise. So we get our share of runs and walks, and it’s nice to take them to the beach.
9. I know this question may sound weird, but I think the answer is interesting.
As you maybe know I like taking photographs of animals. If you could be an animal for a day – which one would you be – and why?
I’d love to be my dog Kurt, a German shepherd/bloodhound mix. He’s the most positive and ferocious being I know. He’s always “there.” He’s always going at full speed, he’s relentless. He won’t let you slip away and escape.
10. Quick Answer Round: Please just answer with the thought that comes to your mind first. Thank you!
* Favorite Meal: Pizza from Koronet at the corner of Broadway and 110th Street in NYC
* Are you a morning person or an evening person? Evening
* Favorite Color: Green
* Best time in your life so far? Coffee with my wife Sanaz.
* Biggest influence regarding your writing work? Brothers Grimm and Ernest Hemingway.
* What do you miss the most while living in California? Being able to whine and complain convincingly.
* Biggest wish for the rest of your life? Coffee with Sanaz.
* Favorite Music/ Song you ever heard? Autechre, “VLetrmx21”
* Music that you can relax to? French Chansons, Fado
* Which TV-Series do you like watching these days? I’m hoping for the return of Kenneth Branagh’s Wallander.
* Favorite TV-Series when you were a child? Star Trek
* Do you have any positive quote that comes to mind? “[Life] is hopeless, but not serious.” Billy Wilder
Thank you again so much for taking part in this. I will definitely tell you when the article with this Q&A will be online at my blog.
One last question: Do you have a new book in mind or in the works?
I’ve made it a habit never to talk about ongoing projects. I just can’t do it
Greetings from Leipzig
Thats for now the original english version of the interview. I will definitely translate it and give you the german version to read. But as I am reading the few last pages of a very interesting novel this will take time – please bare with me and be patient until some time next week. Thanks
Das war zunächst die englischsprachige Variante des Interviews. Ich werde euch definitiv auch die deutsche Übersetzung zu lesen geben. Allerdings lese ich gerade die letzten Seiten eines sehr interessanten Romans und deshalb bitte ich um ein wenig Geduld – bis irgendwann nächste Woche. Danke