So a former US president ends up in prison?
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has no executive authority of its own. This means that they cannot arrest anyone, but they do rely on police from one of the 124 supporting countries to help them. In the book, it’s the Greek Police because the ex-president is in Athens to work. And the Greeks do it incredibly well. The next step is whether the president will be extradited to The Hague at all and whether there will be a trial before the International Criminal Court. In the end, this is also exciting: Will he get there or will the Americans succeed in liberating him in advance?
Could the story you have already developed in your head also change again as you write it?
Yes, it happens all the time. I mostly know how the story begins and how it ends. Most of the time, I already know how the first quarter of the story will go. At the moment, I am actually designing the next book. So I make a schedule for the first few hours. I use keywords to record what happens to the individual characters during this time. I plan for this, but it happens regularly that you plan something, but you throw it away as you write. Because there is always this exciting moment when you set your sights on something, but some characters want to do it differently. In principle, it’s like a map on which you marked a road from A to B. At the location on the road, you can change the route – for example, because there is an intersection that doesn’t even appear on the map. So it’s a mixture of planning and spontaneity. I also enjoy chatting with my fellow writers, and many of them have had similar experiences. There are also some who start writing without planning much in advance or knowing the end. I will not do this. I need to know where I’m going roughly. All in all, I already know the important action points and the tipping points between them. For me, it’s the detail where I start improvising or let my intuition come on its own.
You are already working on your next book. What is it going to be about?
I will not disclose it yet! The “president’s case” has not yet been published (Laugh).
You published your first book in the year 2000. At that time you were still operating with great success in the advertising industry. What was your motivation to write a book anyway?
There were various reasons for this. At the time I was freelance and had a relatively large amount of time that I could split freely. Over the course of my many years in the advertising business I’ve always tried new things on the side. I started out as a graphic designer with ads, and only later did I add copywriting. Toward the end of the 1990s, I thought to myself that I would have to tell a story that wasn’t there yet. So I wrote it myself. It was a big coincidence and it was noticed that it was published by a small publisher in Berlin. That was the beginning. Then she tasted blood and continued.
Two of your books, Blackout and Zero, were named “Knowledge Book of the Year” in Germany. I was the first writer to receive this award twice. Does that make you a little proud too?
I think it’s a good admission that I have apparently succeeded in writing books the way people like to read them. Entertainment that also contains a certain claim and you might learn something simple from it. When you close the book, you’ll learn more about the world and have a good time at the same time. Such a price also indicates somewhat that it has been successful.
sAny roleMen wrote you from your wife Ursula. In the most recent book, you can read “As always, for Ursula” in the introduction. Why is it important for you to dedicate your books to the women in your life?
Being a writer isn’t always a straightforward affair. You need someone to support that. My wife is also one of my most important interlocutors when it comes to book topics. I’ve always backed it, even when my books were only bought by my friends and relatives and not anyone else. This support continues to this day – who else should I dedicate my books to?
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The ‘fall of the president’
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Dana Marin, a lawyer, would never have believed that she would really test it today: During a visit to Athens, Greek police arrested the former president of the United States on behalf of the ICC. The diplomatic tension flares up immediately. The current president of the United States is campaigning and can’t stand a scandal. The White House threatens the International Court of Justice and all European Union countries. For Dana Marin, a battle against conquering opponents begins. As for their most important testimony, their testimony could finally bring down the strongest man in the world. US intelligence agencies are already hot on the heels of whistleblowers. Meanwhile, a task force is preparing for the violent release of the former president to prevent his transfer to The Hague by all means …