Adriana Stern Autorin

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How I write

English Version

How I Write

I find ideas for my books more or less everywhere. They come to me in dreams, I discover them in newspaper articles, or I find myself being captivated by something in the television news. In my work with children and young people, and in conversation with them and my friends, I also have the occasional sudden flashes, ideas that sometimes take on a more concrete form. I sometimes experience the seed of an idea when I'm out walking, sitting on the bus or train, or riding my bike. It often happens that I observe a scene which makes me pause and leaves me feeling thoughtful. And finally it stimulates my imagination to such an extent that I do some research to find out more about the subject in question.



It often takes over a year for the first spark of an idea to be transformed into a book. I spent weeks - sometimes several months - getting to know my characters and their background stories down to the tiniest detail. Not until I can see them in front of me as real figures, and my figures have answered all my questions about their characteristics, preferences, weaknesses and dreams, do I begin to write. That's how the novels you can find here come into being.

Shortly before I finished my first novel I found myself thinking nothing would ever occur to me again. But the longer I write the unwritten stories I discover in the faces of children, young people and grown-ups I encounter in the subway or in the park, in the streets or in department stores.


Like the boy aged about 10 who yelled at his father in a bookshop: "I'm never going home again!" I saw his father shrug his shoulders and walk away. He just left his son standing there in the middle of the shop. The boy gazed after his father. I couldn't work out whether he was furious, sad or surprised. Before my eyes his face turned to stone. Finally he gave a display stand with maps a hefty kick, turned round and walked out of the bookshop through the door on the opposite side. I watched until I finally lost sight of him among all the other people in the pedestrian precinct.

But the boy continued to occupy my mind. I sat down in a café and started wondering where he would go now and whether he really wouldn't ever go home again. Would his father try to find him somewhere in the city? Would he be worried about the boy - or did he really not care about him at all? I wondered why the boy came to the decision in the first place that he didn't want to go home any more. I imagined where he might live, what jobs his parents did, how many brothers and sisters he had and whether he was the youngest, the oldest or the middle child in the family. Whether he still had a mother or whether the father was the only person responsible for him and his brothers and sisters. Maybe I'll write a book about him, because to this day he keeps on floating around inside my head.

The boy I have called Jacob.In the same way as Jacob, most of my characters find themselves in complicated and exceptional situations where their world is suddenly stood on its head and they are pushed to the limits. They are drawn into conflicts, and it takes all their courage to resolve them. Whether they succeed in going beyond their limits and how they manage to conquer their fear of the new and the different... you'll find that in my novels.

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