Recently, I had the privilege to be interviewed by Fiona Mcvie. Fiona is the proprietor and blogger of Author Interviews. I thought I would share it here.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Volker: Volker Fremuth and I’ve currently 56 solar orbits under my belt.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Volker: I was born in Germany and have lived in several countries and landed in the North-eastern United States in the 70s.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e, your education, family life, etc.).
Volker: I grew up in Europe before moving to Connecticut. A family of three children my younger brother and my mother still live in Connecticut as do my wife and I. Albeit at opposite ends of the state. Education… well some of my educational highlights are a woodcarving apprenticeship in the Black Forest to a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as studying business at the MIT Enterprise Forum and the graduate program at Rensselaer. So, my training is both in visual arts and the world of business. Both have some roots in the creative though the latter is often hard to see.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Volker: In the beginning of June 2019, I launched my latest book, ‘Nachash’s Narrative’. This was my second novel and I’m happy to say it hit the number one spot on Amazon in the sub-category of ‘Contagious Diseases’. Honestly, I had no idea there was such a category but if you read the book you’ll understand why my publisher and Amazon felt this was a good classification. It was also a number one new release in the same category. My first novel ‘The Workshop’, though it got a fair amount of praise from its readers, never got this kind of attention.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Volker: This is an interesting question, as I never intended to be a writer. I started in advertising and design. I took a role as a creative director early in my career and found myself copy writing by necessity. As I progressed into corporate marketing, communications and business, I was writing headlines, slogans, advertising copy, press releases, business articles and white papers. Consequently, the creative writing of this type of fiction seemed to be a natural melding of my love of literature and history, my experience, my interests and my continued pursuit of creative expression. I published my first novel in 2014.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Volker: As a follow up to my last answer, I’m not sure. I suppose I have always been a writer but it wasn’t an identifier. I’d introduce myself as a marketing or business professional, sometimes as an artist or even as a pilot but only now with two novels completed and writing my third do I actively call myself a writer or author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Volker: I talk about this in the forward of my first novel ‘The Workshop’. The concept of the story had been winding through the passages in my mind for some time, a long time. It was a fanciful “what if” question, a playful ruse, spawned from a brief conversation with a friend as a teenager. My cynical answer to him at that time remained with me. As I grew older the concept became even more interesting and sophisticated. Eventually I felt compelled to put it to paper and drew on my own experience, knowledge, and research. It should be noted that all of the technological, social, economic, and political activities and history are based in fact and manipulated only to help drive the narrative.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Volker: Interesting question. My first novel ‘The Workshop’ was the nickname of my fictional corporation which mimics the lore its based on, Santa’s Workshop, but I attempted to make it sound more serious as that’s the attitude of the novel. To my frustration, I found that the title was too generic and would make it difficult for readers interested in my book to find it, especially in this modern world of internet searches. Lessons learned. So, as my second book was called ‘The Narrative’ for most of its writing, which was appropriate, I remembered the issue of a generic title and wanted to work with the content of the book to make it more unique. Nachash, the name of the snake in the Garden of Eden, highlighted the orientation of the misinformation, manipulation and the malevolent, maliciousness of the narrative being constructed without suggesting who is actually the beneficiary of it. There are multiple agendas and multiple characters building a narrative for their purposes in the book. Oh, and I liked the alliteration for the title as ‘Nachash’s Narrative’.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Volker: I am, and will always be, visually driven, creatively. Consequently, my writing is done largely as a description of what I was seeing in my mind’s eye. As my characters go through the action of the storyline, I feel as though I am chronicling their experience, seeing it as it happens. This is perhaps why I have heard more than a few times, “this would make a great movie” because this is in effect how I experienced it. What’s challenging about this is that I have to be careful not to over describe or visually indulge myself when brevity is the more effective option in a particular passage.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Volker: I suppose I identify with Jason, the main character of my novel ‘The Workshop’, who is a bit of a workaholic driven by the pursuits of the corporate machine which occupies too much of his time. In ‘Nachash’s Narrative’ both the protagonists and antagonists are mostly fictional. Still, in both books some of the characters and events are based on real people, real history or real events but these are carefully intertwined into the fictional aspects of the story. I have been accused of being too predictive as the things that I describe in the novels have a way of becoming actual news stories.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Volker: I have travelled extensively which has shaped the locations and details of my chosen storylines but I’ve never taken a trip just for that purpose.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Volker: My publisher is MindStir Media, their design department took the first stabs at the covers of both novels but as I am a trained commercial artist I did do some of the mock-up work and heavy-handedly reshaped the art to my liking. I’m happy they were so willing to indulge me in the process.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Volker: I want my readers to be entertained first and foremost, both intellectually and emotionally. Beyond that, I hope I can get my audience to more actively consider their world, their government and think about where we as a society are going.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Volker: Throughout my life I have a tendency to lean toward the some of the classic SciFi writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells and fantasy by Tolkien and Lewis. These have always been my favorites. Later in my life I connected to the dystopian musings of Orwell and Ayn Rand. These still shape my tastes. As far as new authors are concerned Michael Crichton and Dan Brown, if these qualify, and I recently read the 2004 novel ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell which I really enjoyed and will look into more of his work. My wife got me reading J. K. Rowling so that satisfied my desire to read fantasy. I also read a fair amount of non-fiction on science, history and politics.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Volker: Ironically my family seemed to be surprised I am capable of stringing two sentences together, much less write a book. So, I’m not sure if that counts as support. Still, in yet another ironic twist, considering how cynically I treat politics and politicians in both my novels, I have a few friends who are part of a closely-knit group of state politicians who have taken an interest in my writing. Loosely connected to this group is one of our former State Senators, who gave his time to write the foreword to my novel, ‘Nachash’s Narrative’.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Volker: Writing has always been a demand of my “day job” but to write novels full time would require a much larger audience. Those who have read my books to-date seem to like them and, as such, it’s a path I’d like to pursue.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Volker: With the writing of both books I’ve learned a lot. So, I would feel compelled to make changes based on these learnings. However, I think I would just as soon take these lessons and apply them to my next work.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Volker: Yes, I know I did and though I’m not sure of all the lessons learned… yet. I will be applying it all to my next work.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Volker: That’s a tough question as I didn’t have anyone in particular in mind for each of the lead characters. I really don’t want to influence the image that is formulated in my readers’ minds’ eyes. I think it takes some of the magic of the storytelling away when a reader enters a book with a preconceived notion of what the character is like beyond that of the description within the writing. I’ll have to readdress this when I’m asked to develop the screenplay for one of my books. I’m open to offers, Hollywood!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Volker: The writing community would likely be better served in offering me advice rather than my giving it but I would say, let your passion show. Write based on how and what you want to write rather than try to fit into conventions or preconceived notions.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Volker: Look for some very esoteric Easter eggs in my latest novel, ‘Nachash’s Narrative’. I’d be curious if anyone but me can find them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Volker: It might seem a little out of character but I’m about to embark on a book by Peggy Rowe, called ‘About My Mother’, currently I’m reading Scott Adams’s book ‘Win Bigly’.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Volker: I don’t really remember my first book but having grown up in Germany, I know one of the first was ‘Max und Moritz’ by Wilhelm Busch.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Volker: Hopefully the aforementioned book by Peggy Rowe.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Volker: Due to the breadth of their historical and scientific contributions, artistic prowess, inventiveness and intellect; I would love to meet with either Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin. No doubt, taking time with either would change me in some truly profound manner. Being asked to choose just one, I suppose I would have to go with Benjamin Franklin given the current state of affairs and the orientation of my writing.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Volker: I have many interests. I have a pilot’s license and love to fly. My wife and I horseback ride, garden and hike. I have a passion for art, science, technology, history and politics, all are distractions and contributions to my writing.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Volker: Science fiction, historical/period films and fantasy tend to dominate my movie going. Television is really limited to news and documentaries with a little comedy peppered in. There are few TV shows I consistently watch.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Volker: Foods: smoked, grilled and pickled. I love spicy foods. Colors: it depends on the usage and what other colors are present. I suppose I lean blue. Music: Alternative, Punk, Rock, Jazz, Folk and Classical music; I’m less of a fan of Southern-Rock, Country and Rap.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Volker: Eat! Yeah… okay, let me elaborate on that; eat, drink and be merry, with friends and family. Then in the last hour, assuming the timing allows, find a breathtaking sunset and watch it slip away as I take my last breath.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Volker: “Read My Book!”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Volker: I am well represented on social media and on various author pages and my own website:
Amazon Author Central: www.amazon.com/author/volkerfremuth