Author’s Questionnaire

Sebastian Fitzek

Date and place of birth
13 October 1971 in Berlin

Marital status? Children?
Married (to Sandra), a little daughter (Charlotte) and two sons (David & Felix)

Education? College?
Half a semester veterinary medicine; law studies up to the first state examination; doctorate in copyright law; traineeship at the radio station 104.6 RTL in Berlin during my studies; later head of entertainment section and chief editor at the radio station Berliner Rundfunk; independent management consultant for radio broadcasting companies; since 2004 member of the programme directorate at 104.6 RTL Berlin. I also implemented drafts for TV shows for established production companies (e.g. Grundy LE) that were shown for example on the German TV station ZDF (2006 “Deutschland - deine Namen”, prime time show at 8:15 PM hosted by Johannes B. Kerner).

Full-time author – or do you have another “bread-and-butter job”?
I have the great privilege of being able to earn a reasonable living from my books. From time to time, however, they still let me work as a consultant for 104.6 RTL, and I still have my own desk there. The work at the radio station helps me to some kind of keep my feet firmly on the ground. This is also where I meet most of the people showing unusual behaviour who inspire me to writing my psychological thrillers ;).

Any awards/prizes for previous books?
Two nominations for the Friedrich Glauser award (one nomination in 2007 for the best first crime thriller for my book “The Therapy” and one nomination in 2009 for the mini thriller “Alles für Bergkamen”); second place in the Austrian literary award for “The Child”, nominated for the Vincent award for horror literature for my book “Splinter” and “The Eye Collector”; second place for “Splinter” in the list of the best thriller in 2009, which is put to the vote by the readers of Lovelybooks; in the following year the Lovelybooks readers voted “The Eye Collector” in first place.

When did you realize that you had a talent for writing?
When I was old enough to write my own excuse notes for school. That’s what I needed lots of imagination for.

What made you want to write your first book?
The question whether I can do it.

Do you write by hand, typewriter or computer? How does your workplace look like?
I didn’t use to have one until some time ago. I wrote on my computer only, and I did that everywhere I could find one or where I had my laptop with me. I wrote ‘The Therapy’ in all rooms of my house (sitting on the sofa, in bed, at my desk), but I also wrote while I was travelling by train and even in a hotel lobby in Cologne. Today, it’s different. I have found that the more disturbing the scenes are about which I’m writing, the nicer my surroundings must be. So I have moved my desk to my winter garden, which is much too small for that. From here, I have a beautiful view of the tiny pond in my garden. So I can watch the ducks swimming peacefully in the pond, while I try to tear myself away from a chapter in which I write for example about a woman who is suffocating.

How does your usual working day as an author look like?
Luckily, I don’t have an everyday routine. As soon as the synopsis is written and I have finished my research activities, I try to write every minute when I have time. However, there is a ritual. Before I start writing a longer section, I usually get into my car and drive to a lake (with Molly), somewhere towards Potsdam and review the chapter in every detail. (Sometimes, however, I’m so lost in my thoughts that I end up driving in circles and even forget my dog.)

What advice would you give to yet unknown authors for their future career?
To see themselves as a character in a novel, especially as the lucky hero of their own history. In most cases, the protagonist is defeated over and over again throughout the story. And only once does the protagonist win – that is in the brilliant final scene. You see, refusals, defeats, and setbacks are very natural and necessary parts of every good story, especially of the story of your own life.

Describe yourself with three words:
Creative, impatient, humorous, moody, not envious, nervous, fond of animals, lazy, and never able to use only three words.

What is the sound or smell of your childhood?
The sound of the rain and the earthy smell of wet autumn leaves. I was born in October, so I think this is the best time of the year. Probably because I used to get presents back then.

What was the first book you read and why can you still remember it?
‘The Family at Red Roofs’ by Enid Blyton. I borrowed it so often from the library in my primary school that the librarian finally gave it to me as a present.

Which of your childhood dreams has not come true yet?
The dream of not getting older.

What was the most unusual thing you have ever done to impress a woman or a man?
I wrote a book.

The best decision of your life?
To take more care of my family, before it was too late.

What puts you a bad mood?
If someone blocks a good idea simply due to ignorance, egoism or lack of knowledge.

What puts you in a good mood?
A good idea – no matter who has it and what it is about.

Tea or coffee?
Coffee, although I actually prefer tea (‘lazy’). There are machines for making coffee, but with tea you are always busy with the tea bags.

Classical music or rather pop and rock?
Definitely pop and rock, although I also used to work for the classical music radio station Klassikradio.

Cinema or DVD?
DVD, although cinema of course is a more emotional event.

What product would you advertise for?
For painless dental drills; planes that cannot crash, because a parachute opens, in case they come down; a 2-in-1 product combining shower gel and sun cream; a health club chain where you can ‘have yourself trained’; or other inventions that are still waiting to be discovered.

Let’s go on with some advertising: What book should everyone have read in their life?
I think there is no universal work. Books are like people – unique. It’s like there is no perfume everyone should have used in their life. I trust that it works just like when falling in love. Sometime, you just find the suitable unique book and it may be a book no one else is interested in.

Do you have a favourite author? And if so, who is it and why?
Michael Crichton, because he is so versatile. He is a doctor, scientist, author, he writes bestsellers, provides new ideas for motion pictures, and he develops TV series such as ‘Emergency Room’.

Which character from a novel or film would you like to meet, and what would you tell him or her?
Viktor Larenz. ‘It’s a nice place here on Parkum. I think I’m staying a little longer.’

Which character from your latest novel or from one of your latest novels would you like to meet?
Diesel. But actually I already meet him almost every day, because this lunatic guy indeed has an example in real life.

Which character from your latest novel or from one of your latest novels would you never want to meet?
Not a single one. I like them all, even the bad and evil ones.

Who should play the leading role in the screen adaptation of your own life, and why?
Tom Cruise, George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Due to their remarkable resemblance to me.

If you were given the opportunity to cast one of the roles for the screen adaptation of your book, who would it be?
I would like to have Dr. Roth in “The Therapy” to be taken by Edward Norton. However, I think he is such a brilliant actor that I’d let him choose any role he would like to play. Even the role of Anna Spiegel. No, seriously, I think Herbert Grönemeyer is an excellent actor who I would offer a leading role for any of my books right away.

Which historic event would you like to have witnessed?
When Decca Records turned down the Beatles in 1962, saying that ‘guitar music is dying out anyway’. Or when Microsoft was founded, I would have wished to be the principal shareholder.

If you could change something in your life simply by snapping your fingers, what would it be, and why?
Nothing. I watched the movie ‘Butterfly Effect’, and being a supporter of Crichton, I also support the chaos theory. So, let’s say if I tried to do something about my lack of culinary skills, I would be too much afraid of triggering off a nuclear war somewhere in the world.

If you were granted the three famous wishes, what would they be?
That all of my wishes shall come true in the future. That I still believe I can achieve all this due to the great job I’m doing. And that I’m allowed to take this wish back again.

What is your motto in life?
Actually, I have more than one. My favourite mottos are:
"Life is too short to waste it making money." (quotation by Peter Prange).
"Take everything you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously."

Imagine you could have breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different places all over the world, where would this journey take you to?
I’d have breakfast on the beach of the Maldives, lunch at Asado Steakhaus in the Berlin district of Zehlendorf, and – totally jetlagged – dinner in the Corner Room Suite of the Hotel Arts in Barcelona in the evening.

How do you eat a chocolate bar – quickly, with pleasure, or not at all ... and why?
Quickly and with pleasure, because it takes good, but after all it’s only a chocolate bar.

How do you like the covers of your books?
I think they are getting better and better. And I hope some readers do not think the same about the covers only ;))

Where do you get the ideas for your novels from?
I’m inspired by everyday life. Let me give you one example:
I got the idea for my book ‘The Therapy’ while I was sitting in a completely crowded waiting room of a doctor’s office, waiting for my girlfriend to come out again. But when this still did not happen after half an hour, my thriller brain began to speculate: What if everyone told you she had never gone in there in the first place? What if the nurse and doctor claimed they hadn’t seen my girlfriend on that day at all? What if also the other patients in the waiting room shook their heads? What logic reason could there be for her never to show up again? After I had found this basic question and considered it to be exciting, I was thinking about the story for about one year. Then I had come up with a synopsis of a (which I found) convincing story. Only then did I actually start writing.

Have you been influenced by other authors? If so, in what way?
Of course! Ever since my parents had read the stories of Jim Knopf to me, I have been impressed by very many authors. Blyton in my childhood, King in my youth, Grisham and Chrichton during my law studies, today Deaver, Coben and Lehane. However, I have also been influenced by German authors such as Link, Schätzing, Prange, Eschbach. Ah, and I must not forget Alfred Weidenmann, a writer of books for young people, who was an acquaintance of my father’s. I literally devoured his books as well, and when I was a young boy, I finally met him at our house. That was the first time I started thinking about becoming an author.

What is more difficult for you – to write the first or the last sentence?
There is no difference, because I usually edit the first sentence again at the very end.