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Interview mit Will Wiles, englische Version
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Splashbooks: Dear Mr. Wiles, my name is Sarah Fechler and I have the pleasure to interview you for the Books-Online-Magazine Splashbooks (www.splashbooks.de).

Will Wiles: Hello Sarah! Thanks for interviewing me. WW

Let's start with an easy question: What was the latest book you've read?

I've been reading the late Gore Vidal's memoir Palimpsest, which is a delight.

Do you have a favorite author?

Many. Vidal ranks high. Don DeLillo. JG Ballard. HP Lovecraft. I am very fond of author/essayists, sometimes favouring their essays over their fiction: Orwell, Martin Amis, David Foster Wallace, Umberto Eco.

How did you come to the decision to write a book?

I have always wanted to write stories, since before I could write.

What was your inspiration for the book?

I looked after a flat in a foreign city for some friends of my sister. They had two cats and wooden floors. I had just left a job and wanted to spend the time writing, but I just drank and played with the cats. In the end, though, I did get a book out of it.

Did it occur to you that your book would be translated in so many different languages?

No, and it's the greatest compliment! Eight translations complete or under way at the moment. I love the questions I get from translators, they really get down to the nuts and bolts of a story.

It is said that you are currently working on another book. Is this true and will it be also a comedy?

The second book, The Way Inn, is finished and will be published in the UK by Fourth Estate in June 2014. I think there are some funny moments in it but it's less of a comedy, more of a mystery, possibly even horror. But I never really thought of the first book as a comedy - a farce, maybe, not quite the same thing.

It is mentioned in the book that we Germans have a word for everything. I think the precise example was something with "tätige Reue nachhinein", which is maybe "active repentance" in English. That was at the time when the main character was reflecting what he could have done to avoid the worst and that he was regretting what happened. Is this "having a word for everything" a typical English view of us Germans?

In my original the phrase is "regretful, after-the-event wisdom", and though I'm not aware of a German word that means exactly what I meant, there is one that's not far off: treppenwitz. I can't speak for all the English but I think it is a widespread view here. And it's a compliment to the German language! We use so many German words because we lack native equivalents: zeitgeist, schadenfreude, weltanschaung. And some of our most useful wordswere invented by German thinkers, such as nostalgia and ecology. In the context of the book I was also thinking specifically of Freud's word "unheimlich", which we translate as "uncanny", an inadequate equivalent that lacks the connection to the domestic.

You wrote very specifically about the nameless town and the consequences of the many wars. Was there a specific place which has given you the inspiration for the town?

It's a composite of several places. I wanted it to be, possibly, anywhere east of a line drawn from Trieste to Stettin. But a significant part of its makeup is Bucharest, which I first visited in 1994, when I was shown bullet holes old and new.

Oskar is a very "special" character, lovely and very fanatic in cleaning up his place - was he just an idea of your mind, or did he have a living person as an archetype?

There's no life model for Oskar. But I think many people have Oskar-like tendencies, to a greater or lesser extent.

The apartment is the center of the story and simultaneously the greatest difference of the two friends. With which character would you rather associate yourself: The tidiness (Oskar) or the chaos (his friend)?

I know I am more like the narrator. But I aspire to be more like Oskar - in a way the book is about that inner struggle between two polar opposites.

Last but not least: When is your typical time for writing? At daytime or do you rather write in the middle of the night?

I wrote most of Care of Wooden Floors on the Tube to and from an office I used to work in. Now I work from home, I mostly write fiction in the morning and nonfiction in the afternoon. In theory, sometimes life gets in the way.

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Special vom: 14.07.2013
Autor dieses Specials: Sarah Fechler
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Interview mit Will Wiles, deutsche Version
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