Literaturschock: Walter, if you look in the mirror and into your soul, what would you see?

Walter Satterthwait: Looking into the mirror I’d see the shape of someone who’s considerably older than the shape I see when I look into my soul.

Literaturschock: You has lived at many places all around the globe (Africa, Thailand, Greece, the Netherlands, England, France). What fascinates you in such a way at the countries and is there any special place, which is sitting deeply in your heart? (Why?)

Walter Satterthwait: I loved Thailand and I loved Greece – I lived in Greece for longer than I lived anywhere else – but of all the countries in which I’ve stayed, I love Africa the most. The countryside is magical, and so are the animals who inhabit it.

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?

Walter Satterthwait: The 1950s in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I knew people who were living there then, and it appears to have been was an amazing place. What I’d like to do there – or would’ve liked to do – is sit in the market and watch the woman saunter by.

Literaturschock: You has worked as an encyclopedia salesman, a proofreader, a bartender, and a restaurant manager but: How did you begin your writing career?

Walter Satterthwait: I’ve always written; but for a long time I didn’t sell anything. And then, when I was working as a bartender in New York, a friend – a woman who knew someone at at Dell, an American paperback publishing house – suggested that I write a book proposal for an action/adventure novel. I wrote the proposal, a couple of chapters and an outline of the rest, and she, acting as an literary agent, submitted it. The woman at Dell bought it, and that was my first book, COCAINE BLUES.

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

Walter Satterthwait: The most difficult thing is to face an empty sheet of paper. The easiest thing is to make revisions. I think it was Peter DeVries who said, “I’m not much of a writer, but I’m a pretty good rewriter.” I believe the same about myself.

Literaturschock: You often write about real people in fictional settings: Oscar Wilde, Lizzie Borden, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway and many others. What fascinates you so much about these constellations? How do you get the information to make these characters so real?

Walter Satterthwait: All of them, to a greater or lesser degree, were egomaniacs, and I find egomaniacs interesting because they demonstrate human nature in its very broadest strokes. We’re all of us, to some extent, egomaniacs, because we all see the universe as revolving around us. (Which in a sense, of course, it does.) To make these people seem real, I read as much as possible about them, books, articles, whatever. And then I simply step into their skin.

Literaturschock: In Jane Hellers article "Who is that Masqued Man" (1999) you mentioned that you had said some nasty things about the Germans all your life. Would you tell me more about that? (I promise: You're not in danger!) ;-)

Walter Satterthwait: The usual, basically prejudiced, stuff about the Germans. But the more time I spend in Germany, the better I like the contemporary Germans. These days, some of my best friends are German.

Literaturschock: What are your current projects? Can you give us a little sneak preview of the next books?

Walter Satterthwait: At the moment, my serial killer book PERFECTION, published by Goldmanns, is out in Germany. Next year, I believe, Goldmanns will be publishing CAVALCADE, the sequel to ESCAPADE and MASQUERADE. At the moment I’m writing a sequel to a much earlier book, MISS LIZZIE.

Literaturschock: What is a question you are never asked that you wish people would ask you?

Walter Satterthwait: May I give you a million dollars in cash?

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

Walter Satterthwait: My favorites remain the writers I grew up reading: Dashiel Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, and Ross Thomas. Among contemporary people I like Ian Rankin, Sarah Caudwell, and a few others.

Literaturschock: Thank you so much, Walter! I really appreciate your taking the time to let me interview you.

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