Thursday, February 17, 2011

7 Questions For: Author Monika Schröder

Monika Schröder is the author of The Dog in the WoodSaraswati's Way, and My Brother's Shadow

She grew up in Germany and has taught grade four in international schools in Egypt, Chile and the Sultanate of Oman before becoming the elementary school librarian at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. Monika always ate her vegetables and grew to be 185 cm (6 feet 2 inches) tall. She met her future husband in Aswan, Egypt and they got married on a ferryboat in Northern Michigan. Monika loves to walk in forests or bake a cake when she gets stuck with her writing. In January 2010 she and her husband adopted an Indian street dog, whom they called Frank, and who now is the center of their life...

Click here to read my review of Saraswati's Way or here to read my review of My Brother's Shadow

And now Monika Schröder faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

My top three books change yearly, sometimes even monthly. Currently, they are: THE GOOD THIEF by Hannah TInti – a Robert-Stevenson-like story about an orphan who is adopted by a con-artist set in colonial New England. I love the gothic atmosphere and the gripping plot. Another favorite of mine is SEA OF POPPIES – by Amitav Ghosh – a wonderful, sprawling story set in India during the time of the Opium Wars. And finally there is an old-time favorite that I already loved when I was a kid: EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES, a children’s detective novel written in 1929 by the German writer Erich Kästner. The book has recently been published in English with an introduction by Maurice Sendak.

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

I am very lucky that as an elementary school librarian reading is a big part of my job. I write about an hour in the morning before I go to work and all day on weekends and during vacation. I don’t know exactly how much this averages per week, but I try to get as much writing time as I can.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

I brought the draft for my first novel, THE DOG IN THE WOOD, to a Whole Novel Workshop at Boyds Mills led by Carolyn Coman. With her guidance I was able to make it into a manuscript that a publisher wanted to buy.

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

I was certainly not born to be a writer. When I grew up in Germany the common belief was that writing was a gift that certain people had and if you didn’t have it there was no hope for you. I loved to read and thought that those people who could put these stories on pages had to be touched by some kind of magic. So I was surprised to discover my own interest in writing when I was almost 40 years old. Maybe there is some inherent gift but in order to become a good writer one also needs to practice a lot.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

I love it when towards the end of the writing process the story falls into place, when somehow the book is finished and seems good. My least favorite times are those stretches during the revision process when I know something isn’t right yet, but I can’t name exactly what the problem is. Then I try to force it from the story, but that never works as I have to wait until the solution gives itself to me. And I am not good at waiting.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read, read, and read! And read some more!

If you want to write a book of a particular genre read about one hundred books of that same genre. Analyze them, imitate them. That’s how you learn.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I would like to have lunch with President Obama, who is also a writer. His wonderful wife Michelle could come too. I have lots of questions, but I also think they would just be real pleasant company.


  1. I love love love your interviews! Oh how do you find the time to do them! Thanks for this awesome post.

    Hey I'm sorry I haven't been commenting in awhile. I have just recovered from a week long bout of flu. Hopefully once I get caught up on work, I'll be able to leave more blog comments. :)

    By the way, maybe you'd be interested in joining my first ever blog contest. I'm giving away some awesome writing tools for creating great characters! Check it out!

    Oh do join! I'd love for one of my fellow bloggers to win the prize!

    warm regards!

  2. Great interview. I found Monika's answer so inspiring that she thinks you can teach yourself to be a writer. And she started at 40 and works full time, similar to my experiences. Stories like that give me hope that I can handle work and writing.

  3. Thanks for this interview! And thanks, Monika, for writing THE DOG IN THE WOOD -- a powerful and haunting novel!


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