To help spread the word about the Grumpy Old Trickster Gods anthology, I’m interviewing the authors involved.
Today we have Katharina Gerlach, author of Worst Trickster God of All.
What is your story in the Grumpy Old Trickster Gods about?
My story is about an ancient Aztec god who is facing a resurrection of the Aztec faith when all he wants is the peace and quiet of his retirement.
What kind of research did you do for this story?
I’ve always been fascinated by the Aztec. I’ve watched countless documentaries and read many papers when I was younger. So when this story wanted to be written, I only needed to re-read some information on the gods (the names are a little hard to remember, BTW Huēhuecoyōtl is pronounced WhyWhyCoyotee) and the rest was child’s play (not really though since every story takes a lot of concentration and hard work, but you know what I mean, right?).
Interesting pronunciation! Do you enjoy books filled with mythology and folklore?
Yes, I do IF (and that’s a big one) they are neither under nor over researched. Some writers (especially those who have researched just the surface of a theme) tend to cram everything they found interesting into a story whether it fits or not. Other writers (usually those who researched extensively [including how to write]) tend to write lean, leaving out most of the culture of a character “because he already knows his culture”. That’s true but a good writer still finds ways to include all the nice little titbits that make cultures come alive.
In my debut novel, way back, I did my best to avoid either.
Good point. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
Silly question. Really. Ideas for stories are all around us day in, day out. When they connect to a theme or an interesting fact or, like in this case, a cool premise for an anthology, the story simply happens. The hard part is writing the story in a way that’s enjoyable for someone who happens to NOT be part of my mind.
LOL. What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
As the female lead of a rather complicated family, my time is split between caretaking, walking the dog, writing, and the household. Fitting everything into a day is impossible, so the household (the item I like least) is often ignored for a while, but I’m doing my best. Writing keeps me sane enough to manage the rest.
I hear you! What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
Most important is a story with believable characters in a situation that creates a problem for them that’s not easy to overcome. If your story contains tension, great people, an interesting (or even exotic) world, and some twists and turns that keep me breathless, I’ll be a fan.
Sounds like we enjoy the same types of books. What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
My favorite part is revision. I love it when the beauty of the story finally comes to light and all the unnecessary bits are chipped away until the story sparkles.
My least favorite is marketing. I never know where to start, and telling people “read my book, it’s a real good one” (or in my case around 40) feels sleazy and salesy and I hate it (it doesn’t work either). And paying for advertising is rarely bringing in the money I’d need to run adverts. So I’m still trying to find a way to market my books that I feel comfortable with. Any ideas are always welcome. Just visit my homepage (katharinagerlach.com) and send me an eMail through the contact form.
All I’ve learned so far, I’ve turned into blog posts and shared here if you’re interested. Now, how many books have you written and which is your favourite?
Without the short stories that were published by other publishers, I’m currently looking at
- 13 novels
- 13 novellas (12 of those bundled into 4 volumes of fairy tale retellings)
- 15 short and flash story collections
- 1 book for beginning readers
- 2 non-fiction
That makes a total of 44 books at this time. Of course, I’m working on more already.
Would you and your main character get along?
I don’t know. I mean, he’s a god of a pantheon that only waits to bathe our societies in blood again. And although he enjoys his retirement, I’m not sure how far I can trust him. It’s be a weary peace at best.
If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
Coyote, the Middle and North American version of Huēhuecoyōtl. He’s much more mellow and a lot of fun. Yes, he does mischif, but never to harm someone. At least not intentionally.
Good point. If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Still Alive: Kevin Anderson – to pick his brain about marketing and maybe getting a few tips on how to really connect with my readers.
Not Still Alive: Diana Wynne Jones, Edith Nesbit, and Astrid Lindgren (although I might be too deep in fan-girl mode which would make it hard to suck up any wisdom they might direct my way)
Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?
Not ever. My dogs have trained me too well. I open their tins at the appointed time, schedule regular walks, and (of course) adjust to their petting times. Everything is as it should be.
My dogs are still training me… What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
Never give up, never surrender … oh, wait, that was a film. Still, it should have been the most important advice. The more you write, the better you get.
That’s good advice. Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?
- Diana Wynne Jones
- Edith Nesbit
- Astrid Lindgren
- Neil Gaiman (although I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of his later books; American Gods was awful [the only reason I finished the book was a lovely little ancient god who turned out to be the worst serial killer I’ve ever read about], The Graveyard book was good until the end where it fell flat, and The Ocean at the End of the Sea was somehow confusing and although I liked it while reading I don’t remember enough for a summary)
Name an underappreciated novel that you love.
William L. Hahn’s “Judgement’s Tale” and “The Eye of Kog” Omnibus (now also available as audiobook)
This story (for it is one HUGE book) is epic fantasy (well, that much was obvious, wasn’t it) at its best. Not a single sentence is wasted, everything moves the story forward with enough description to visualize the whole world. There are several people carrying the main part of the plot (and they’re wonderful to read about), and then there are some minor characters that only show up once (one is Riddy, a little boy of 4 or 5, who is losing his old seaside fort, an upturned sailing boat, to one of the main characters) but have a big impact on the reader (in this case. me). And in one place near the end, the most important main character, Solemn Judgement, is even observed through the eyes of animals since no people are around for a decent POV. What has grabbed me most was that that scene works perfectly, for the story and for me, as the reader.
Okay, okay, I’ll stop rambling now. You can easily see that I’m a big fan. Let’s leave it at that. BTW, the other books by the same author are just as good but shorter. 😀
It must be good if you’re fangirling like that! Which author in your genre do you most admire, and why?
Since I don’t have a fixed genre, I write all over the place, that’s a tricky question to answer. I admire a lot of writers (Hemingway for his ability to prepare a novel in his head and then just writing it down, Kafka for his way with words, Nesbit for juggling politics, an untrustworthy husband, raising a whole band of children (some not even her own), and writing and excelling at all those tasks, Lindgren for helping children see themselves as a force for the positive, Diany Wynne Jones for her imagination, and I could go on and on).
But most of all, I admire all those Indie authors out there, working on their dreams. Despite drawbacks, bad book visibility, hardships of juggling Real Life (TM) and writing, and the increasingly unfriendly tone of reviewers and (unfortunately) some peers, they don’t give up and put out their stories (and with them baring their souls). So if you want to support some real heroes, go grab a copy of a small Indie and leave a decent review if you liked the story (if not, grab a different book by another Indie and try again). You’ll find gems that way you never expected.
This was a very interesting interview. Thank you very much for having listened to my rambling. I hope everyone will enjoy the “Grumpy Old Gods” Anthologies as much as I do (although as an author in some, I’m not allowed to say so on Amazon), and especially the Trickster edition. It’s so much fun (and I must know, I’m currently reading it).
About the Author
Katharina, commonly known as Cat, was raised in the middle of a forest in Germany where she and her three brothers roamed and dreamed. But even tomboys grown up, and therefore she got an education, programmed a forest growth simulator, and returned to the love of her life, her now-husband, with a rather useless PhD in science and the head filled with strange facts about our world.
When her best friend unearthed a box of historical documents about her family that reached as far back as the 15th century, Cat wrote two historical novels. During that time, her dream child landed in her little family, followed by two beloved foster children with special needs.
So she put aside all aspirations of ever working as a forester and focused on raising her children and writing the best books she’s capable of. By now she’s dabbled in several genres, mainly Fantasy (fairy tale retellings), SciFi, and Historical Stories.
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