An Interview With Ulff Lehmann
Hi, I'm Ulff Lehmann, and while I am German I have decided to write in English. Primarily because I spent two thirds of my reading-life reading English novels. I have lived in the
exchange student, and while I have always been interested in story telling, it
was only in my early twenties that I started to write. After a few years being
unable to put the phrases I wanted to say on paper, I realized that while I was
reading a hell of a lot, up to 6 novels a month, all of these books were in
English. Once that realization set in, I switched from German to English and
haven't looked back since. USA
That I am a writer and a storyteller, I think my subconscious was always aware of, but instead of following my heart, I chose a career in banking. A career which did not last beyond the 2 years of training, which I finished more or less intact. After that I tried my hand at being a college student, but dropped out after a thankfully unsuccessful attempt to emigrate to the
I came home, and stood before the shambles of my life, so to speak. No
apartment, no job, no money in the bank. I moved back in with my parents, found
a job doing temp work, found an apartment, reclaimed some normalcy. US
Sadly normalcy isn't all it's made out to be. Jobs came, went, until I crashed. I recovered, got another job, crashed again. During that time, my best friend finally convinced me to go to therapy. Behaviour therapy set me straight, made me realize who and what I am, and I wrote my first two novels, Shattered Dreams and Shattered Hopes, during that time.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
Shattered Dreams is the first part of a trilogy, a story that I have been developing for the better part of 25 years, actually. It is a multi-viewpoint story, the style pretty much inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire, with chapters bound together by the specific dates something or many things are occurring.
How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?
I think my first short story, a precursor to Shattered Dreams, was released in a German fanzine sometime in 1994. I had been dabbling before, but never on any grander scale. Shattered Dreams is my first published novel.
Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?
Currently I am writing the third part, Shattered Bonds, and while I will always cherish Shattered Dreams as the first creative task I ever brought to an end, I would have to say that Bonds is my favourite.
Why did you decide to write in the fantasy genre?
It was the first genre I really delved into as a reader. Greek, Roman, Germanic Mythology, I've read so much fantasy, I cannot remember it all. I'm fairly certain that I will turn to other genres, eventually, once I have said all I wanted to say in fantasy for the time being.
What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?
Assuring people that not only is your work no Tolkien clone, but that you have never even finished The Lord of the Rings because it bores the crap out of you.
What do you enjoy most about writing in the fantasy genre?
Fucking with people's preconceptions.
Who is your intended readership?
First and foremost I write stories I would want to read. That being said, since my tastes have changed dramatically over the past decade or so, my intended readership is basically anyone who likes a good book. The whole genre thing, the strict adherence to sticking to a specific kind of novels, be it fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, horror, is, in my opinion, rather narrow minded. A book's good when it's good, and if the story of a romance novel grabs my attention, I'll read that too.
Are there particular challenges in writing for your core readership?
Since my primary audience is, initially at least, myself, yes there are. I'm a tough nut to crack, I'm my own worst critic, and to read anything without my inner editor screaming blue murder at stuff I dislike is impossible. Prose has got so boring, to me at least. Show me a book that has every sentence of almost every passage begin with "He..." or "She..." and I show you a writer who never bothered to polish his prose. Fifth graders write like that, and I hate it. Beginning every sentence differently, weaving words into something exciting, that is tough.
What did you enjoy most about writing your book?
What did you find most challenging about writing your book?
Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?
The stupid characters refuse to do what I want them to! Seriously, the more I got to know the characters, the less the preconceived path I had laid out made sense. In the end, I let the characters choose.
What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?
My first hope was to finish what had begun during my days at therapy. Finishing the novel was a huge step for me. Publishing the book, is close second. Truth be told, I had not thought much further than that. Yes, I wanted people to be touched by it, and given that one reader has already started to read the book again, I believe I have accomplished just that.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
To me there's a difference, between conscious and subconscious realization. I've always been creative, in terms of story telling. I discovered role playing games in my early teens, and lived out my natural desire to tell stories there. When I started developing my main character for the short stories (who would later become the protagonist of the novels) I think I had an inkling, but since I was so stunted in the self awareness department, I did not really follow through. When I started therapy in earnest, that's when it literally punched me in the face.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
A three part question, fun! I start with the routine, because the process and the routine go hand in hand. The day before I return to writing, I make sure to go to bed so that I wake up at around 8 to 8:30 in the morning. From there, I fix a cup of tea (well, tankard is more appropriate, seeing that the bugger holds 0.75 litres) switch on my TV and watch one episode of a drama and two episodes of a sitcom. I also have my breakfast during that time. When the second episode of whatever sitcom is done, I shut off the TV, switch on the stereo to blast something metallic through the speakers, loud enough that it will reach me under the shower. After that, and before I get dressed, I change the song to The Blood of CuChulainn and then get into my clothes. With the final notes of Blood ending, I open my windows, put on my shoes, grab whatever non-fantasy book I am currently reading and head to my favourite café. There, I enjoy the novel whilst drinking a large cappuccino. Then, with my mind clear, I return home, switch on my writing computer and the stereo with my "writing-soundtrack" and begin.
The process is rather straight forward. I check where I left off, recheck some of the previous chapters to get my bearing, and write. I generally have a good idea of what I want to do, where the story will go, and while that first day of writing is mostly spent fixing some stuff from where I left off and before, I add another few pages before I stop. The following days are the same, only now I am fully back in the zone and new pages start flowing.
Ideas... good question... I'd say the primary idea comes from somewhere between waking and dreaming, that blank space between thoughts. That sounds better than, I get some damn good ideas under the shower, or while taking a dump, or shortly before falling asleep, which is the shittiest time to have any ideas because you have to get your ass out of bed and write the ideas down. The rest is basically following these ideas with logic.
What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Making sure everything is logical.
Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?
George R.R. Martin, Bernard Cornwell, Tad Williams.
How do you research your books?
I read non-fiction.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Read, read, read, read, and read outside your comfort zone. If you only play in your sandbox and never in the forest or whatever, you will never understand the larger world. And stop looking at fucking Twilight for inspiration! You get about the same amount of crap from staring at used toilet paper!
What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
How did you become interested in movies?
Best alternative to reading books.
Are you working on another book?
I am currently working on the last part of the trilogy that starts with Shattered Dreams.
What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?
Not sure yet. I want to finish the trilogy first, then worry about what comes next.
In the years since, he has lost count of the books he has read, unwilling to dig into the depths of his collection. An avid fantasy reader, he grew dissatisfied with the constant lack of technological evolution in many a fantasy world, and finally, when push came to shove, he began to realize not only his potential as a story teller but also his vision of a mythical yet realistic world in which to settle the tale in he had been developing for 20 years.
Author's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ralchanh/
Shattered Dreams by Ulff Lehmann
For two years the mercenary Drangar Ralgon has kept his back to his dark past. Afraid to live, afraid to die, Drangar tries to ignore the abyss that lies behind him. Now, faced with a war he wants nothing to do with, he finally turns around and gazes back.