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Interview with Hans M. Hirschi

We are very excited to spend some time getting to know the amazingly talented Hans M. Hirschi.  Please grab a big mug of java and join us in welcoming him.

*How long have you been writing?

Straight for the punch, eh? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, which basically means for as long as I’ve been able to write. I recently found some really old documents (letters, short stories) from my pre-teens, stories of unicorns and other magical creatures, as well as super heroes.

But then my teens, studies of literature, not to mention the requirements of corporate life got in the way and I stopped writing fiction and reading, pretty much at the same time. I put out two non-fictional books in the last decade, but writing for fun, real literature, was not even on the radar.

Who or what inspired you to write fiction?

Once again, life got in the way. The economy cost me my job, my own consulting company never really got off the ground and when my husband and I were expecting our son last year, it was quickly decided that I should take the first six months and be the “stay at home” parent. Incredibly, in the final three months of our pregnancy, I managed to write, not only one, but two novels.

So you could say it was my son, but in all honesty, it was a very conscious decision to never again do something I didn’t feel passionate about, and to pursue my dreams. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make an honest living off of my writing at some point. I’m not quite there yet, though. LOL

Do you get emotionally attached to your characters?

YES! Oh yes… And that’s all I’ll say here. My relationships to my characters is as private as my readers’ experiences of my books. Which is as it should be. I had one of my beta readers once tell me that he loved the fact that Sascha wasn’t “beautiful” (like most main characters are?), which enabled him to identify much more with the story.

This is just one of the reasons why I want my readers to make every book their own, unpolluted by any interpretations from me. I’d much rather they discover each character on their own, without me interfering. I hope you understand that.

Do you have a favourite amongst your characters?

I may, but I’d rather keep that to myself, too. Naturally, the characters of the book I’m working on are usually the ones I feel the closest to, for natural reasons, as those characters are in my mind more or less twenty-four seven, writing the book and even afterwards, during the editing process and the publication. Once the book is published, and I start to write the next one, those emotions gradually move on, as I get to know the characters of the next story.

So, as I don’t have a new story I’m writing on right now, the characters from “The Opera House” kind of linger on… Answer enough?

Given the nature of your stories, how difficult was it to write some of those scenes?

Some scenes were difficult to read, after the fact, as they reminded me (particularly in “Family Ties”) of actual events in my life, from which I had drawn the inspiration. But normally, my writing style is very intuitive, I just let my brain do the work and my fingers the typing, I don’t get much involved! That also means that I rarely know how a book will end, what happens between the covers. Without divulging anything, I had no idea Jonathan would die, or that Warren would walk out on Raphael, I really didn’t. For the longest time, I was struggling with Dan and Jonathan, would they make it, or not. Okay, I think I’ve said enough… LOL

What was the biggest challenge when writing your novels?

The editing. Being a non-english speaker, I feel extremely self-conscious about my language and it’s a difficult line to walk. I work with incredibly talented editors (and yes, they are professionals), but since people know about English not being my first language they kind of see things they wouldn’t notice elsewhere, because they don’t really expect it elsewhere. It’s something I have to learn to live with, and I’m very anal when it comes to editing, and re-reading my books a gazillion times. Yet you always miss something, sadly.

Have you ever considered writing any sequels to any of your books?

Yes, for “Jonathan’s Hope”, for total of 0.00427 seconds.

I don’t think the novels I’ve written so far are suitable for sequels.

Do you have a specific place or mood setting that you prefer to write in?

Not really, except for the inspiration of course. It usually starts out with an image (e.g. the lake in the forest, where Dan eventually meets Jonathan. I thought I’d just write a short story to share with my readership, but after twelve thousand words, and when Jonathan finally knocked on the door of Dan’s cabin, I knew I had to get to know the young man.

I usually just sit and write in my office or in our reading corner. Lots of coffee of course, but I just write, for hours on end. I prefer not to be disturbed of course, but otherwise I don’t need much.

At the initial stages of your book what language do you write in?

English. I can’t write fiction in any other language (see answer above…) Thing is, the only other languages I speak fluently are Alemannic (no writing language really), German (they’ve changed their grammar more often than I change hair styles so that’s no longer an option) and Swedish (who’d ever read it?) Besides, English is the most amazing language out there, with over a million words to choose from, vibrant and alive, with influences from just about every culture in the world. My editor uses Chicago style editing, and I’ve always tried to speak American English, but I’m sure there’s influences from Australia, Singapore, India and England in there, somewhere.

2013 was an eventful year for you with highs and lows, do you think this will have an influence on any future writing?

Well, I had anticipated my mom’s passing in my first novel, and I’m already writing about parenting, etc. I don’t know, I’m waiting for that next mental image. What that image will be, and how it will be influenced by things that happened in my life, I don’t know. Right now, I’m freaking out, because I don’t know what the next story will be about.

How did it feel to hold your first book?

It feels really, really satisfying. It’s an amazing feeling, every time, and I’ve done it quite a few times by now… Oddly, Chris, my cover artist, usually gets the proof copy, as he’s stateside. I always have to wait a few extra weeks before I get my copies, which are then submitted to seven royal and university libraries in Sweden, as mandatory research copies.

What do you like to read?

I read modern literature and romance (the good stuff, not the erotic dime novel stuff)

Does your husband read your books?

He always gets to read the first draft when I’m done. So yes. If he’d tell me a story is crap, I’d delete the file and never think about it again. He’s very good at giving me feedback about things, e.g. plot holes, or other things that need fixing. He loved “The Opera House” from the get go, which gave me a sense of having written something ‘special’.

Favourite 80’s song?

Oh what a question… I started the 80’s mourning ABBA and continued listening to just about everything out there. That was after all the decade I was a teen, and I have a gazillion memories about so many songs. I can’t be asked to choose one memory over another. I listened to just about every musical act there is in pop, rock & punk during that decade. Brings up lots of interesting memories…

Favourite childhood TV, Book or movie character?

I remember a German children’s book, a continuation of the Spielberg movie “Close encounter of the third kind”, encounters of the fourth, fifth and sixth kind that I must’ve read at least thirty times. I guess that makes it a favorite. I’ve always loved science-fiction, particularly StarTrek.

If you were given the chance for one of your books to be made into a movie, which book would you choose and who would play your characters?

I think both “Jonathan’s Hope” and “The Opera House” would make interesting films. As for the actors, that is another question I don’t want to answer. You see, films are a director’s vision of the story. It isn’t mine. If I were to tell you who I “see” playing a certain character, it would alter readers’ perception of the characters.

I remember reading “Life of Pi”, and imagining what Pi would look like, what the zoo would look like, the life boat etc. I had all those things mentally drawn up and enjoyed my version of the story. When I saw Ang Lee’s visualized version, my pictures died, once and for all. I’m glad I got to enjoy my version before I saw Mr. Lee’s.

That is why I’ll keep those things to myself.

Great book cover designs, please tell us about the designer and what input you have on these?

Thank you, I love them very much, too. Christopher Allen Poe was referred to me by one of my editors, and I’ve worked with him ever since my first novel. He is such a genius. He reads the manuscript, and he comes up with a few images that function as metaphors.

With “The Opera House”, we didn’t even have a title by the time the manuscript was sent to the editor and Chris, so he had difficulties coming up with an image. We talked about the title for a couple of weeks, until a suggestion from Chris set me straight. After that, his first image was the one we chose. After that, we just played with fonts, where to place words etc.

How important do you think book covers are when it comes to representing books?

Always judge a book by its cover! Always. Here’s why: we all do. Sure, the title isn’t unimportant, and who reads the blurbs or endorsements other than to be confirmed in the subconscious decision we’ve already made after seeing the cover? That may not be fair to a lot of good books, but I’m very happy about my collaboration with Chris and the covers he’s designed for me.

imageHans M. Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the coast of Sweden.


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