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 im Juli 2018 - Beitrag vom 13.09.2005

Interview with British thriller author Mo Hayder
Ursula Schatzl

Daily life as a writer and mother? Inspiration and secret dreams? What does it take to write a book? Mo Hayder reveals all and talks about her newest page turner: ´Pig Island´

AVIVA-Berlin: In June 2005 you were on a book tour across Germany together with Minette Walters. You visited Dresden, Cologne and Berlin. Did you enjoy this trip and which German city did you like best?
Mo Hayder: Dresden - without doubt. The last time I was there was on Christmas night 1989, and to see how it´s changed was marvellous. Also I am so impressed by the way Europeans rebuilt their cities after the war - in England we didn´t have the same sense of trying to preserve the past.

AVIVA-Berlin: You introduced your new book ´Tokyo´ to your readers. How does ´Tokyo´ differ from your first two books: ´Birdman´ and ´The Treatment´?
Mo Hayder: It´s got much wider themes, and I´d say it´s more ambitious. Although it´s a thriller it has a strong historical element. It deals with the Nanking massacre in which something like 300,000 Chinese were butchered by the invading Japanese army.

AVIVA-Berlin: How did the birth of your little daughter change your life? Are you sometimes afraid of the responsibility of raising a child?
Mo Hayder: I´d never ever pictured myself as a mother. And yet now it seems the most natural, important thing in the world. One should never underestimate the changes a child brings to one´s life - and in my case the changes have all been positive. I´m not afraid of the responsibilities, but I am afraid of the dangers she will face as she grows up. As a parent you have to struggle to disconnect yourself from the constant fear of something bad happening to your children.

AVIVA-Berlin: You have your daughter who is three and a half years old, and you are a thriller author who writes quite disturbing and creepy crime stories. How do you combine these two worlds within your daily life?
Mo Hayder: I think the key is openness: I´ve always been determined not to shelter my daughter from anything. There´ll be no parental controls on her web browser and her favourite film ever is ´Aliens´ (a film that I have to watch from behind the sofa). Sometimes I find it difficult to compartmentalise my existence - it´s very difficult to talk to a police officer about a brutal child murder, for example, and not think about the same thing happening to Lotte. But I recognise this as one of my big struggles and I´m trying to live with it.

AVIVA-Berlin: Can you imagine writing books for children too, or would your fairy tales all end up in a blood bath?
Mo Hayder: I would LOVE to write children´s books. I would like to be like Roald Dahl, one of my favourite authors - he´s so twisted he´s just brilliant. But I think I´d have to write under a different name.

AVIVA-Berlin: Besides your own books you are reading excerpts from books written by other authors on the tour. Who are your favourites among your fellow crime writers? Which of their books impress you most? And why?
Mo Hayder: I think Pete Dexter is an unsung hero. His writing is so taut and realistic and he manages to keep up a constant sense of dread in his work. I wish I knew how he does it. Thomas Harris is much more than a thriller/crime writer - he should be considered among the top literary writers.

AVIVA-Berlin: Tell us more about the process of writing a book. How do you get your ideas, and when are you sure about the theme? How long does the research take? Do you spend a few hours writing every day, or do you have phases of where you write for several weeks at a time, especially when finishing a new book?
Mo Hayder: I only enjoy writing at the very start of a new book and at the very end, when it´s all over. Everything in between tends to feel pretty painful. I tend to mess around for months reading other books and clothes shopping, until the point my editor gets strict with me: then I´m usually scared enough to write twelve hour days. My ideas come from so many different sources: newspapers, dreams, paintings….I really have no consistent source of inspiration. And I try not to think too hard about themes, because I want the story to flow naturally. Very often I only recognise the themes I´m working with retrospectively.

AVIVA-Berlin: You studied film at an American university before you returned to Great Britain a few years ago. When did you realise that writing is your true passion?
Mo Hayder: Half way through the film masters degree I knew I would never have a career in film making. I continued the course because my father told me I had no persistence in life - I needed to prove him wrong. I think it was at about this time I realised I was a writer at heart. It´s something to do with megalomania, you know.

AVIVA-Berlin: Which of your books would you like to see on screen, and who would you like to direct it?
Mo Hayder: Jonas Ackerlund was signed up to do ´Birdman´ at one point, but things went awry. It was a shame because he´d have done a really good job of it. I think the book I´ve just completed, ´Pig Island´, would make a good film. As for directors? The Cohen brothers if you´re talking wish-lists - or any of the ´Dogma´ directors.

AVIVA-Berlin: You teach creative writing at Bath University. What is your message for young authors?
Mo Hayder: Write, write and write some more. Don´t listen when they tell you how difficult it is to get published - and remember: there is one way to guarantee you won´t get published, and that´s to never finish your novel.

AVIVA-Berlin: ´Tokyo´ was published quite a while ago. Do you have a new idea for your next book? Can you tell us something about it?
Mo Hayder: With pleasure. It´s called ´Pig Island´ and this is the jacket copy:
Journalist Joe Oakes makes a living exposing supernatural hoaxes. A born skeptic, from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness monster, he believes everything has a rational explanation. But when he visits a secretive religious community on a remote Scottish island everything he thought he knew is overturned.

Unanswered questions mount: why has the community been accused of Satanism? What has happened to their former leader, Pastor Malachi Dove? And more importantly, why will no one discuss the strange apparition seen wandering the lonely beaches of Pig Island?
The violent consequence of Oakesy´s visit to the community is so catastrophic that he is forced to question the nature of evil and to face a terribly reality: was he responsible for one of the bloodiest crimes Scotland has seen in years? And, worse, will he be responsible for others yet to unfold?

AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much! We are all definitely on edge to read ´Pig Island´ which will be available early next year here in Germany.

Kultur Beitrag vom 13.09.2005 AVIVA-Redaktion 

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