Literaturschock: Before we start: Is there any question you are never asked, but you wish people would ask you?

Max Barry:: "How do you keep your hair looking so full and healthy?" Sadly, I never get asked that. I have very little hair.

Max Barry: - Logoland

Literaturschock: Mr Barry, if you look in the mirror and into your own soul, what would you see? (Could you tell your German fans something about yourself?)

Max Barry:: Wow, that is by far the most intimate question I've ever been asked. By a journalist, at least. I feel like we should have a couple of cocktails and dim the lighting before you start asking me things like that. But hmm, as to what I would see... probably be a 30-year old Australian, squinting at a mirror. I'm surprisingly shallow.

Literaturschock: If you would have a time machine like H.G. Wells' to which time(s) and place(s) you would travel and what would you you do there?

Max Barry:: I'd be twisting those dials for the future: Morlocks here I come. A hundred years, 500 years, 5,000 years from now: that's what I'd like to see. Assuming that humankind manages to postpone self-destruction that long, I'd love to find out how our societies evolve. Do we become more individualistic, tribal, collectivist, something else? I want to see which values and morals of our time are considered hopelessly crude in the future. Also I would note which companies were doing well, and when I returned to the present, buy a lot of shares.

Literaturschock: Do you have any idea why German publishers "Syrup" called "Fukk"? (Well, German publishers are well-known for it to translate titles very strangely).

Max Barry:: I have some idea, since "Fukk" is the name of the soda that features in the novel. But translations are mostly a mystery to me. I find it very strange to open up a translated version of one of my books and see the characters speaking a language I can't understand. How do they know how to do that? And why is everyone in Los Angeles speaking German? "Fukk" struck me as a strange title for a German novel because it's only amusing in English because it's so close to a swear word. So I'm not sure if the German publisher just liked the sound of "Fukk" or assumed that all Germans at least know THAT English word or what. In the end, I take it on faith that they know what sounds better in their language than I do.

Literaturschock: Beside "Syrup" and "Jennifer Government" you destroyed a lot of your manuscripts. What was wrong with them?

Max Barry:: Mostly, they sucked. That was the main problem. No, actually only one was really bad; the rest were okay. But I wouldn't want to ask people to pay 10 or 15 Euros to read them. There are enough mediocre novels in the world without me adding to them. I really want every novel I publish to be different and surprising and truly worth reading.

Literaturschock: What do you think is the most difficult and the easiest thing about writing?

Max Barry:: The easiest part is the writing. I love the writing part. The difficult part is when other people read me. It's terrific when someone says how much they liked one of my books, but still, there's such a rawness when you offer up something you've put so much of yourself into. I would be pretty happy if I just wrote novels all day and nobody ever read them. I'd be dirt poor, but happy.

Max Barry: - Fukk

Literaturschock: Have there been any reactions to "Jennifer Government" by American corporations? For example Nike or the NRA?

Max Barry:: No, no-one's threatened to sue me. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. I didn't think they would; after all, the book is clearly a parody. Companies deliberately inject their names and brands into our culture via marketing, and that makes them fair game as far as I'm concerned: they don't get to also control what we say about them. I thought it would be ridiculous to write a book about corporations without mentioning any of them.

Literaturschock: "Section Eight Films", owned by Steve Soderbergh and George Clooney, is developing Jennifer Government for the screen. Congratulations! If only you could choose the crew: Who would be Jennifer Government, John Nike, Buy Mitsui, Billy NRA and Hack Nike?

Max Barry:: That's a tough question because all those characters are people to me in their own right, and it's hard to think of actors playing them. But it would be very cool to see Nicole Kidman or Sandra Bullock play Jennifer Government, and George Clooney would be an incredible John Nike. The rest, though, I'm not sure.

Literaturschock: What are your current projects? Can you give us a little sneak preview of the next books? Or it's still a secret?

Max Barry:: I am deeply superstitious that if I talk about my next book before anyone has agreed to publish it, I will be struck with a thunderbolt for my hubris. So sorry, yes, it's still secret for now.

Literaturschock: Who are some of your favorite writers, and do you find the time to read them? What are you currently reading?

Max Barry:: I'm currently reading "Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk -- he's a writer I'll buy anything by. I'm looking forward to the new Neal Stephenson book, too. I do read a lot, yes. I've heard that some authors prefer not to read while they're working on a book, but I can't figure out how that would work. I'm always working on a book.

Literaturschock: What is the thing, that makes a book to a very special book for you? And/or what makes a book (of another author) for you importantly? Does it have to contain a message? Or just have to amuse you?

Max Barry:: My all-time favourite novels are ones where I've fallen in love with the main character. That's something novels do a lot better than film: they allow real intimacy to grow between the reader and the characters. But I enjoy any novel that has something original to say and does it in an entertaining way. It doesn't need to have a message -- in fact it's pretty tough to write a "message" novel without becoming tedious -- but it should throw a little light on some aspect of the world.

Literaturschock: Thank you very much for your time, Mr Barry! Many greetings from the Black Forest!

Max Barry:: Thanks for the opportunity! Max.

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