Yes, I start with a quote from Wolfgang Goethe’s Faust. I can relate very well to these two souls in me—or more!?
And how can I not? I grew up in Germany during the cold war, wedged between childhood and two nuclear super powers who could blow up my world 1000 times.
Parallel I played with cute playmobil figurs: nice colours, round eyes, all smiling under the zigzag plastic haircut. Adored and loved by adults asking me, what I was doing with the chalk, I stole from school?, I answered, I shoot the figures and the chalk leaves a mark, where I can see, if they are dead or not.
I learned reading in school, and from comics I migrated directly to—you may have guessed right—pulp fiction war novels. Dodge ball in school and carnage on paper. A happy childhood.
A friend lead me to another pulp fiction series, John Sinclair, an English ghost hunter, my first taste of horror, I was twelve years old. After hundreds of these novels I found an advertisement in there for a novel by a guy called Stephen King. The book “Christine”.
The sheer size seemed to be a challenge, but I read 120 pages pulp fiction each week, so I should live up to “Christine”. My mom bought it for me, and I never forget reading it, this was a linguistic and storytelling game changer. I read every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on, then his fellow horror writers, to the point I exhausted the selection, and again I had to look beyond for other genres, I asked my mom to buy me “The Godfather”. I was fifteen years old, my world was never the same.
At this point you might picture me as that German goth teenager dressed in dark shredded clothes looking like I found them in a Russian atomic bomb blast crater. But music had entered my life, too, not the popular tunes that everybody associates with the 1980s including their fashion; in 1985 I discovered Tom Waits, a musician you couldn’t impress anybody with at my high school—let alone with his fashion choices, that had become mine. I was 16. Yes, I was that kid in your class. I sat next to the only punk girl in class, I still smell the dried cola that spiked her hair an arm length straight up.
Now this is all more or less dark, right!? Where is the second soul in my breast you wonder? So, I did have a happy childhood, I was loved, and obviously I was allowed to read whatever I wanted, what meant literally the world to me, and I always liked a a good laugh, and by the age of sixteen I had a small group of close friends, one looking old enough to buy beers at the convenient store, since we were fifteen. With sixteen it is legal in Germany. Our laughter still lingers over the lake and the local river that flooded the neighborhood last year.
Tom Waits’ lyrics lead me to authors of the Beat Generation, and all of a sudden there were books that spoke about what I felt, Charles Bukowski told stories from daily life it seemed (I know, I know technically not a Beat), and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road fed my own longing for travel and its form of freedom. Both encouraged me to write more my of own stuff—I had started writing after killing off playmobil figurs became unpopular in school. Now I wrote more, I read stuff to grow my own vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, scenes.
Again over music (The Pogues) I discovered more literature: irish writers, they wit and humour, and I dived more into other funny literature, too. By then I wrote horror, literature and humour—if we want to distinguish. And it took fifteen years until my first novel got published, it was nominated as Best German debut and I sold its film rights, and it was: a funny Young Adult fiction road novel of two lovers that accidentally steal a mafia car… (For A Spin).
Since then I always write the best idea. I didn’t settle for a genre, I didn’t went for the big money (literary agent: “Please, I beg you, write a romantic comedy for women in their 40s”—yes, I was asked that), and that means for me an array of genres, actually more than two souls even, many souls, from dystopian science fiction (right now, you can follow on my homepage) to humour, and horror being one them: like in Grolar.
Grolar: Half Grizzly Half Polar Bear by Thorsten Nesch
half grizzly bear, half polar bear
Jon lost his job in Vancouver and finds work at a small gold mining camp. His wife and his young son join him. When the toddler shows them what he had found near the tree line, they know, there is something dark waiting for them.
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