In short: I edit, translate and write in both the German and (mostly) English language. Genres I cover in my novels are historical fiction (romance, adventure, family epics), fantasy (Nordic mythology, elves and Vikings and all in between) and, so far, one contemporary thriller. The short stories are either contemporary or historical (for me that means Viking Age) romance/erotica with focus on tasteful style and emotional depth. One of my beta-readers insists it’s “literary erotica”. I don’t care for genres, so I’ll just nod as if I knew what that implies 😉
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I don’t care for pigeonholing. But still, definitions are necessary guidelines. So:
What defines you? Is it your family, studies, occupation, history? I found that some of these things change. I have only recently begun to call myself a writer, but have I not always been one?
Looking back, I think I have. I wrote my own stories from the time I could line up coherent words. I remember one of my first stories was about a little magician who wanted to help his friends. I still got that draft. I also illustrated the story, with sketches and colourful, detailed paintings. Today, I think that every reader has to create his own images. I now use drawings to help myself visualise the arrangement of houses in a dwelling, its inhabitants, a point in the plot, a setting, natural surroundings, etc.
So I define myself as being a writer, editor and illustrator/painter. I love painting in oil.
I studied English linguistics, German linguistics and Geography (geomorphology) & passed my M.A. with distinction, and the reason I mention it here is that I am very proud of that and very ambitious and competitive. I worked so hard, especially towards the end, that the day I handed in my thesis was just unbelievably satisfying! (I analysed US Presidential speeches concerning the 2003 Iraq war, lexical semantics and rhetoric)
The parts of my studies I loved most were: the humour of my English tutors, Irish authors, the German spelling reform, and climatology and natural disasters. Volcanoes and mud-slides.
I spent half a year living in Dublin, Ireland, and have been back almost every year. There is something about its rugged nature, the Irish humour, the quirky language Hiberno-English, and sound of their accents that’s got me hooked long-term. If you ever listened to an Irishman speak, or laugh, you’ll understand ;-). I worked with Prof. Terry Dolan on his “Dictionary of Hiberno-English”, you can find it here, it is considered a classic and every new edition is quickly sold out …
I’m not going to say mum-of-two, because that carries the air of housewifely, creating the wrong stereotype pictures in your heads, like that of a stressed out, tired, irritable woman bouncing a toddler on each knee while trying to still think straight and type words for a book.
Well, I am often quite stressed and tired and irritable, depending on the quality of last night’s sleep. And nothing has changed my life and myself more than my two angels. But the rest of the picture? Nothing of all that. When I work, they are in good hands. They can spark something in me, they changed me and my way of thinking, but they are not what defines my job.
I just about managed to free myself and peel out the other sides of me again, those that lay hidden and buried under all those overwhelming 24/7 tasks and big emotions that make the rhythm of family life. So yes, being a mum defines me as it does every parent, but it is also the one thing that I need to push far away while writing, to detach myself and refocus on what else I have inside me. In order to create, I need peace of mind.
I am also not going to stress that most of the time I live in Germany, in the Western part bordering on the Netherlands and Belgium, near Charlemagne’s Aachen, which means I live right in the heart of Europe. I like that part a lot. I do not like the “German“ part, in case it evokes pictures and prejudices about “Wurst”, beer, “Lederhosen”, World-War II & stiffness of mind and hips. All of that – apart from German organisational talents and efficiency – does not apply to me. Wrong part of our country.
The Rhinelanders are supposed to be the relaxed, humorous ones. Where I live and roam, in the border triangle, we are easygoing, positive, and flexible (well, compared to other places on the map). I’ll spare you the translation of the Rhenish proverbs that prove my theory, though that would be fun!
In my area, we cross a border without noticing. In our Dreiländereck, where three countries meet, we see ourselves more as Europeans.
So just place me in the heart of Europe. Or squeeze me between the three countries in your mind. I even speak a bit of Dutch.