Autoren-Interview: Caragh O'Brien

Vor einiger Zeit habe ich darüber berichtet, dass die Autorin Caragh O'Brien ("Die Stadt der verschwundenen Kinder") mir zu einem Interview zugestimmt hat. Zusammen haben wir tolle Fragen erarbeitet, und nun sind die Antworten eingetroffen, die ich euch nicht vorenthalten möchte! Vorerst gibt es hier das englische Original. Die, die nicht so viel mit englisch anfangen können wie ich, sollen sich bitte nicht ärgern! Erdbeere von Collection of Bookmarks ist so lieb und hilft mir bei der Übersetzung. Sobald wir mit der Arbeit fertig sind, wird das übersetzte Interview natürlich direkt gepostet!
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!
P.S.: DANKE an Kirsche, für den tollen Journalisten-Lurch!

Leselurch: Birthmarked is your first book for young adults. How did you hit upon writing?
Caragh: Let me first say thank you, Leselurch, for inviting me by for an interview. I’m delighted that you enjoyed Birthmarked (Die Stadt der verschwundenen Kinder) and honored you want to know a little bit about me.
I started keeping a journal for a school assignment when I was thirteen, and over time, I grew to love how writing and thinking became the same thing. I started writing stories in college, kept at it, and decades later, Birthmarked became my first young adult novel.

L: How much time does it take to write a story (from idea to final draft)? Do you plot the whole action and the characters before you start or do they just develop while you’re writing?
C: My writing pace is different for each book. I wrote the first draft for Birthmarked in two months, and then took over a year to revise it. I prefer to discover the story along with Gaia, so although I usually have an idea of a scene I’m working towards, I don’t outline before I begin.

L: How long were you searching for a publisher?
C: To my surprise, I didn’t search very long. It took me a couple of months to find a literary agent, and once he started submitting my manuscript to publishers, it took about a month for us to hear back, and we received three offers. I feel very fortunate that my novel ended up with Nancy Mercado of Roaring Brook Press and I thoroughly enjoy working with her. When I found out my agent sold the German rights to Heyne, I was thrilled.

L: Birthmarked is the first book of a trilogy. What will you do after finishing the series? Any Ideas? Of course we are hoping that you will continue writing. Do you think about writing some other young adult novels?
C: It’s funny you should ask this as I’ve just started thinking seriously about what I’ll work on next. I expect to keep writing young adult novels but beyond that, I haven’t decided.

L: How did you strike on the idea of Birthmarked?
C: When my family was driving across the southern United States a few years ago, a severe drought there made me think about how climate change would affect society and politics. Once I wrote the first chapter of Birthmarked, I found Gaia so engaging that I had to write the rest of her story to find out what happened to her.

L: 'Gaia' means 'earth'. Do you choose the names with deliberation?
C: Yes, absolutely! Gaia’s name goes well with her skills as a midwife and her strength as a life force, rather like Mother Earth.

L: Which characteristics of your protagonists Gaia and Leon do you like most?
C: I like how gutsy and fearless Gaia is when she is determined to try to save her parents, and I like how Leon gradually lets go of his superficial power as a guard and discovers what other strengths are in him.

L: Which characters do you like best? Why?
C: I like Gaia and Leon. They just fascinate me. I like to see how they evolve, especially over the entire trilogy.

L: How much Caragh is in Gaia?
C: Ha! Gaia is much stronger and more courageous than I am, but I’ve become braver by knowing her. I suppose she’s who I wish I could be.

L: A climate catastrophe changed the world we know into Gaia’s. Could you give us some more information about this? What happened exactly?
C: I tried to explain a bit about the background history of the world in the flashback chapter when Gaia picks blueberries with her father, but I also hoped the reader would use her imagination. The area around Lake Superior is currently very wet—the Land of 10,000 Lakes—so for it to become a wasteland, the world would need to be consistently warmer than it is now. Such a change in our planet’s climate seems not only possible to me but likely, considering it has already started.

L: Please, tell us more about the political situation. How did the Enclave come up? One side of the wall has technological progress - the other has medieval living conditions. How so?
C: I imagined that a community of wealthy people with resources and technology anticipated the climate change and built themselves a haven inside a protective wall. They tolerated the expansion of a second, poorer community outside the wall, and thus a divided society of haves and have-nots was created.

L: What about the rest of the world? Are there any other civilizations?
C: Yes! Other civilizations must exist. They’re just separated from the Enclave by the wasteland, so any interaction is rare. I left myself a bit of room to play around with the sequel.

L: Who is your favourite writer and which are your favourite books?
C: I have many favorite books like Anthem by Ayn Rand and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I also like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Knife of Never Letting Go for recent young adult books.

L: You have a lot of fans in Germany! When will you come and visit us? :D If you had the chance to visit Germany, which city would you like to see most?
C: I would dearly love to visit Germany again. I was there last October for a few days and I especially enjoyed Burg Eltz, which made me feel like I was visiting another time. I would like to visit more little villages like Beilstein. Perhaps you can recommend some!

L: Is there something you would like to say at the end?
C: I’d like to mention my German translator, Oliver Plaschka, who worked tirelessly on the German version of my novel. He and I have become email friends and I am very grateful for his carefulness. It’s my hope he’ll be the translator for the sequel, Prized, which comes out in the original version in November.
Thank you again for inviting me by, Leselurch, and for so kindly providing me with questions in English! There are more barriers than simple walls, and you’ve allowed me to surpass one to be part of your blog. Thank you!


  1. Wuhu, schön, dass mein Journalistenlurch nochmals zur Anwendung kommt xD
    Und jeah, ich wusstes doch, dass sie mit ihren Namen wirklich etwas audrücken wollte =D
    Danke für das Interview! ^^

  2. Ich hatte ja ehrlich gesagt nicht damit gerechnet, dass du das Interview in Englisch veröffentlichst. Für mich ist das zwar kein Problem, aber davon kann man nicht immer ausgehen.

  3. @Anonym: Ich hatte vor, sowohl das Original als auch eine Übersetzung zu posten, damit jeder etwas davon hat. Nicht jeder versteht es in englisch, deswegen bat ich die Erdbeere ja auch um Hilfe. Aber die, die es tun, haben sicherlich mehr Spaß am Original!

  4. Danke für dieses tolle Interview! (und ich finde es super, dass du es auch in Englisch postest!!!) Ich habe das Buch noch nicht gelesen, aber es steht schon seit einiger zeit ganz, ganz oben auf meiner Wunschliste und nun weiß ich definitiv, dass es mein nächster Einlauf wird =)
    Liebe Grüße

  5. Soll ich dir das schnell übersetzen? Das geht doch ganz fix

  6. @Martina: Super! Lies das Buch so schnell wie möglich; es ist klasse! *g*

    @Stephie: Danke für dein Angebot, aber die liebe Erdbeere ist schon dabei! Doppelt brauchen wir es ja nicht =)

  7. Weisst du was? Manchmal glaube ich wir teilen ein unsichtbares Gedankenband :-) Ich hab heut auch eine positive Rückmeldung zu einer Interviewanfrage bekommen *freu*.


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