Women and Adversity: Nina George, Part II
Part I of Nina George’s post appeared April 23 on this blog. Now in Part II she answers more questions about obstacles she faced getting published. She is an international bestselling author from Germany and president of the European Writers’ Council, a volunteer position. She travels throughout Europe to promote and defend the rights of writers.
George was born in Bielefeld, Germany, in 1973, dropped out of high school and worked at catering businesses then in 1992 began freelance writing. In addition to having columns and short stories published, she has 28 books to her credit. The Little Paris Bookshop is translated into 37 languages. She lives in Berlin, Germany, and in Brittany, France.
JAM: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you wanted to publish The Little Paris Bookshop?
NG: I had been publishing a wide range of books before: novels, nonfiction, mystery, so my Publishing House, Droemer Knaur, already knew that they could depend and count on my skills, and I had a contract. After the death of my father and my own deep injury, in which they installed a piece of metal in my neck. It was a titan inlay in pink and for a feminist a tough thing to wear. (Now it’s permanently in sweet violet.) I could not laugh. Not sit down. Not sleep. Not write. So I had to overcome my grief, my pain, and, sure, my fear of being forgotten by the public because I did not publish a book for two years or so. To write about the book business was not sexy during that time in Germany. In the end I realized that these obstacles had sharpened a new storyteller in me. The Little Paris Bookshop (2015) was the result.
JAM: What obstacles do you face now as a writer?
NG: The huge obstacle is me, myself, my longing to commit to authors’ rights and to be responsible for 41 European writers’ organizations and 150,000 colleagues. This is, as we say in Germany “time-eating.” I need a sort of inner silence to listen to myself and to the stories in me, waiting to be told.
Another obstacle is the challenge of the markets in the digital evolution. Publishing houses are doing bestseller-chasing, and have no courage to do something new, strange and diverse. This is what we call the self-censorship of the market. They are always hoping on a new international bestseller. But to be frank this is luck. Pure luck. It could be a novel of high quality that hits a nerve, but sometimes it could also be a literary accident which succeeds. You never know. It never depends on your skills, crafts and ideas. You are always helpless when it comes to the Pub Day, and in Europe we have to face the uprising right wing parties, which are fighting a “Kulturkampf”(cultural struggle) by cutting budgets for a diverse culture. This is a tendency we see in the whole of Europe and the dying of cultural and literary landscapes.
But back to a writer’s life. To find time, inner silence, and the willingness not to write for a market, but to write for readers who want to read while “traveling” in a novel: this is the challenge.
I made a plan on what to write in the next years: three novels, one biography about living and writing, and a start of a series for young adults. I am glad to reveal what I want – this is often also a challenge: How to find out what I really want, and do I have the courage to do so?
Twitter | #countingwomen
In German | www.ninageorge.de/index.html?page=introduction
May 28 – Jo Ann Mathews – ebook, Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers, available at several platforms