Stefanie de Velasco - Author

About the Author

Stefanie de Velasco lives and works in Berlin. In 2011, she received the Literature Prize Prenzlauer Berg for the first chapters of Tiger Milk. This is her first novel.

 

Author photo © Joachim Gern

 

Below is a Q&A with this author.

 

Top 3 favourite books and did you draw any inspiration from these authors in writing your book?

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Ham on Rye by Bukowski

 

Yes I actually did. When I was a kid I was always jealous of all the boys in the novels, having so many adventures and the girls were always the ones in the pretty dresses playing hopscotch. Nini and Jameelah are a little bit like Tom and Huck. I also admire Bukowski for his vulgar but very tender language.

 

If I were a fictional character I’d be…

Anne Shirley of Lucy Maud Montgomery's books. When I was younger I tried to dye my hair and it turned out to be green and once hit a boy with a chalk board.

 

 

How do you find your next read?

 I am a big fan of the classics. When I like a writer I usually read everything.

 

Which book do you wish you’d written?

I don't know, maybe Harry Potter? Oh no, that must be a crazy life. Poor JK Rowling.

 

Top ‘non-book’ piece of writing? (e.g. poem, short story, play, article etc.)

I'm a big Thomas Mann fan, but I don't get "Dr. Faustus". I don't know, what was up with him?

 

I also remember a terrible book, I was forced to read in school, it was something about a monster called Unugunu, that was terrorizing this nice family, telling them it would gas them if they didn't do what they want. It used to say, "bring me this or that (normally food from the fridge, if not I kill you with gas!). Seriously check it out on http://www.amazon.de/Wenn-Unugunu-kommt-Irina-Korschunow/dp/3499202697/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391593585&sr=8-1&keywords=wenn+ein+unugunu+kommt. I mean it was for CHILDREN! I found that quite awkward especially reading such a book in Germany. Maybe it was a kind of post-war Freudian metaphor to work through German guilt?? I don't know. It was the weirdest thing ever.

 

On writing

 

Are there any fictional characters you wish you’d created?

Fictional characters are like gods. I really don't see the difference. You can call on them in bad times and ask for advice. For me, the most powerful characters are Tom and Huck, but also Rüdiger von Schlotterstein of Angela Sommer Bodenburg's Vampire novels in the 80's.

 

Where do you like to write?

I must admit that I don't like writing as much as I like reading or watching TV or painting my nails. It's like doing exercise. At first you don't feel like it at all, but afterwards you're happy you've done your day’s writing. That's why I need a very quiet and lonely place to focus and concentrate, like the library, my home or my office.

 

Did you get inspiration from any real places, events and individuals for you novel?

Yes, of course. Berlin is a very inspiring place for me, because it’s dirty and ugly, poor and cruel. This sounds very morbid I guess but cruelty and ugliness are the most inspiring things for me. I don't see beauty in it, don't get me wrong. But it's quite fascinating. Nobody wants it, but it seems to be part of our lives.

 

Are there any scenes in the novel that were particularly hard to write?

It took me a long time to finish the murder scene. I think it took me three months, because I wanted it to be shocking without being dramatic.

 

Are you writing a new book?/Can you tell us what your next project will be?

Yes I am! It is about a young boy from West Germany who moves to the outskirts of Berlin after the wall falls. He and his parents are pioneers of the Jehovah's witnesses who were the only minority persecuted by both the Nazi AND the Communist regimes. It is a novel about a young boy in the young German Republic. It is a novel of the ‘90's, a time when youth was still an attribute of rebellion.

 

Did you ever dream about your book? Did your dream influence your writing/the direction the book was going?

Yes I did. For example, a couple of days ago I had a nightmare about a boy who got stuck in a lift shaft and got killed. It was a glass elevator and I was the only person in it. I could see the boy but couldn't stop it happening. It was horrible. It was so real, I could hear him screaming and I could smell the blood and everything. Now I can't stop thinking about him, I see his shaved little head, and I know, someone put him there on purpose, but who, and...why? That's how it starts sometimes.

 

Which of your characters would you most like to meet/hang out with? And which would you least like to meet/hang out with?

Uff. Sometimes I think Nini and Jammelah are fun, but hanging out with them all the time would also be very tiresome, since they talk non stop! I think I would go for Nico or Jameelah's mom Noura. I wonder what kind of story she would tell me about her husband and her son in Iraq. I feel a lot of empathy for her.

 

What kind of research did you do to write this book?

I must admit, I don't really believe in research. I did a little where it was necessary, but normally I prefer to let my imagination roll. Sometimes I even get angry when I read about a book or a film and the newspapers say, how perfect and accurate the research is, and then you read the book or watch the movie and you think, yeah so what, it's still super boring. Literature is not about copying reality, it's about a truth that lies beyond reality, it's a big lie, you create a lie, which is the fiction, but you put all the truth from real life in it and that makes it feel real, and that's what comforts us, that's what helps us in real life. In the end we are all narrative beings.

 

What is a typical day like for you when writing?

I am a morning person. I wake up early and walk my dog, Pinsel, to my office and write until lunchtime. I eat. Sometimes I continue writing in the afternoon, but normally I take a long walk with the dog, and then I meet friends, or I go to the movies. I love the movies. When I'm in the process of writing it's really hard for me to read books, because they spoil my writing, my language. It's like too many people talking to me.

 

In one sentence, describe your writing style.

 

Raw, but tender? I don't know. You better do;-)

 

On being a debut novelist

 

Do you have another job/what did you do before becoming a writer? Does this feed into your writing at all?

I used to be an actress before I started writing. Sometimes I still do that and it really helps me, because it's the opposite of writing. It's with real people and you have to move your body! I also do some ghostwriting, I like it, it's fun.

 

Do you have any previous writing experience? How did writing this book differ from your previous experience?

I started writing for erotic magazines. The cheap one you get at train stations. Do you have that in the UK? Really cheesy titles, and the characters are either royalty or nurses. It really helped me to work on my style without any pressure.

 

Did anything surprise you during the writing process? (e.g. Was it more difficult or easier than you expected? Did you end up changing a lot from the first draft?)

I expected it to be hard and it was hard. I barely had a social life. I have promised myself that it won't be the same next time. I have just bought a dining table so I can invite people over for dinner once in a while.

 

I write chronologically. I only continue once I'm satisfied with what I've written before, so, no, I didn't change a lot from my first draft.

 

General

 

Dream dinner party guests?

Charles Bukowski, Hannah Arendt, Whitney Houston, Holly Golightly, Stephen King and...George W. Bush, so we have someone we can make fun of.

  

Five desert island items?/What can’t you live without?

Chicken broth, german bread, my Star Styling Hoodie, the complete works of Enid Blyton, Kuschelrock-Cassettes from the 90's.

Featured books by Stefanie de Velasco

Other books by Stefanie de Velasco

Tiger Milk

Tiger Milk

Author: Stefanie de Velasco Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/08/2014

We need to practise for later on, for real life. We need to know everything so nobody can ever mess with us.' Nini and Jameelah are best friends forever. This summer they're going to grow up. Together. On their terms. But things don't always turn out the way you plan... Tender, funny, shocking and tragic, TIGER MILK captures what it is to be young.

Tigermilch

Tigermilch

Author: Stefanie de Velasco Format: eBook Release Date: 15/08/2013

"e;Manchmal kann die Musik gar nicht laut genug sein, damit man das Leben nicht hort."e;Nini und Jameelah leben in derselben Siedlung, sie sind unzertrennlich und mit ihren vierzehn Jahren eigentlich erwachsen, finden sie. Deswegen kaufen sie sich Ringelstrmpfe, die sie bis zu den Oberschenkeln hochziehen, wenn sie ganz cool und pomade auf die Kurfrsten gehen, um fr das Projekt Entjungferung zu ben.Sie mischen Milch, Mariacron und Maracujasaft auf der Schultoilette. Sie nennen das Tigermilch und streifen durch den Sommer, der ihr letzter gemeinsamer sein knnte. Die beiden Freundinnen lassen sich durch die Hitze treiben, sie treffen nicht Tom Sawyer oder Huck Finn, aber hngen mit Nico ab. Nico, der in der ganzen Stadt "e;Sad"e; an die Wnde malt und Nini ein Gefhl von Zuhause gibt. Sie machen Bahnpartys, rauchen Ott in Telefonzellen und gehen mit Amir ins Schwimmbad. Amir, den sie beschtzen wie einen kleinen Bruder. Und dessen groer Bruder Tarik im Dauerstreit mit seiner Schwester liegt, weil diese sich in einen Serben verliebt hat. Nini und Jameelah erschaffen sich eine Welt mit eigenen Gesetzen, sie berziehen den Staub der Strae mit Glamour, die Innigkeit ihrer Freundschaft ist Familienersatz. Sie halten sich fr unverwundbar, solange sie zusammen sind. Doch dann werden sie ungewollt Zeuge, wie der Konflikt in Amirs Familie eskaliert. Und alles droht zu zerbrechen.Mit einem hinreiend eigenen Sound, leichtfig und schonungslos, wuchtig und zart erzhlt Stefanie de Velasco von zwei Mdchen, die das Leben mit beiden Hnden ergreifen und lernen mssen, das eigene Dasein auszuhalten. Ein kraftvolles Debt ber Verlust und Sehnsucht. Unmittelbar, entlarvend und herzzerreiend.

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