"Forget Donna Leon & co, read Klönne."

Sächsische Zeitung

10 questions

01 • Why do you write crime fiction?

I’m very interested in what death does to those who survive: the victim’s family, the killers and of course the detectives. The whole series featuring Judith Krieger and Manni Korzilius is a voyage of discovery – through the cases they investigate, they are forced to change.

02 • Is there a character in your books you identify with?

To a certain extent I identify with all my main characters, as I spend a long time very close to them, writing from their perspectives. What I share with Judith Krieger at times is her brooding nature, and I’m a night owl like her. The scenes with Manni Korzilius are the most fun for me, because he battles life’s absurdities with great verbal wit.

03 • Where do you get your ideas for the characters and events in your novels?

If only I knew! Some of them come to me while I’m jogging or listening to music, or in dreams. Others are the result of thinking about a certain subject for some time, subjects that fascinate and touch me. In NIGHT WITHOUT SHADOWS that subject is violence against women – sadly, something that is still all around us. In UNDER THE ICE it was bullying.

04 • How long do you spend researching your novels?

That varies. I can often clear up legal or investigation details in a single phone call. Altogether, it takes a couple of months before I can start writing. Sometimes I use knowledge I already have. For example, I created the forester Diana Westermann in SILENT IS THE FOREST because I’d been writing pieces about women foresters as a journalist.

05 • Once you’ve decided on certain physical and social settings, do you go out and research them?

Yes, I always do. I ask questions and research until I understand what remains hidden at first sight. That’s the only way I can create an atmosphere in my novels that appears genuine and captivates my readers.

06 • Did you go to Russia especially for “Night without Shadows”?

No, but I’d been to the places I describe several times a few years ago, back when I was a travel journalist. It soon turned out that I was asking very different questions to television journalists. Whenever I could, I got hold of an interpreter and talked to perfectly normal women about their lives.

07 • Can Manni and Judith be described as a real team?

Absolutely, they complement each other perfectly. And in theory, they’ve come to admit that and start liking each other over the first three novels. What else can they do? Their boss insists on them working together. But things won’t all run smoothly in the future. They both have strong personalities – and very different ones at that.

08 • Almost all of the protagonists in your books are victims – including the killers. What do you find so fascinating about the victim’s perspective?

It might be better to say my protagonists are people with a past that wasn’t always rosy. And they react to that in different ways, just like real people. I’m not interested in perfect, cosy lives. I much prefer to invent characters with rough edges, injuries, scars – and I like to describe how they manage to live with them.

09 • How do you manage to put yourself into the position of unhappy characters?

I don’t find that particularly difficult. I don’t know anybody, myself included, who’s always happy or hasn’t been though hard times in the past.

10 • What kind of reaction do you get from your readers?

A lot of them write and tell me how they like my language, and that they find my characters as vivid and close as good friends.