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The Hangman's Daughter Paperback – Bargain Price, August 2, 2011
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Question: What initially inspired you to write this story?
Oliver Pötzsch: As a descendant of the executioner’s dynasty Kuisl, I have been fascinated by their history since my childhood. Engaging myself with the Kuisls makes me feel connected to a greater lineage. In addition, executions are a fascinating topic often treated with undue prejudice. In this respect my books are a defense of my ancestors’ honour.
Question: What authors or books have influenced your writing?
Oliver Pötzsch: Regarding historic novels, my writing has been influenced by Paul Harding, Robert Harris, and the fantastic novel Terror by Dan Simmons. But I also look up to many authors of the fantasy genre such as Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and the almost forgotten Fritz Leiber.
Question: What research did you do while writing your book?
Oliver Pötzsch: My grandmother’s deceased cousin was a passionate genealogist. In his life he built an enormous archive of information about my ancestors and the hangman profession, and I have been allowed free use of this resource. Also, during my career as a journalist I made several radio programs on this topic, talking to herb women and guardians of cultural heritage and searching in many archives of Bavarian cities for my ancestors.
Question: Is there any character you most identify with? Why?
Oliver Pötzsch: I am a cross between Jakob Kuisl and Simon Fronwieser. I am sometimes ferociously melancholic like Kuisl, and I have his stubbornness and his grumbling taciturnity which can drive my wife crazy. But also, like Simon, I am curious, I can be charming and at times even loquacious, and I love great coffee!
Question: Have you considered trying your hand at other genres?
Oliver Pötzsch: In March 2011, my new book, The Ludwig Conspiracy, will be released. It’s about the mysterious background of the death of King Ludwig II, the Bavarian fairy tale king. The novel is set in the present day; it is a contemporary thriller which I took great pleasure in writing. And one day I want to write a fantasy novel. As a child I couldn’t get enough of them.
Question: Have you always wanted to be an author? What other careers have you pursued?
Oliver Pötzsch: As a child I wanted to become a soccer commentator, actor, and yes, as a matter of fact, I wanted to become a writer. I always made up stories and wasted my youth on never-ending fantasy roleplaying.
Question: What's it like to have a book published for the first time?
Oliver Pötzsch: The first book is like the birth of a child, a long-cherished dream come true. Apart from that, every novel is really hard work! But I can’t think of anything else to do.
Question: What's next for you?
Oliver Pötzsch: After the thriller about Ludwig II, I am writing the fourth novel in the Hangman series. Later I will fulfil another childhood dream of mine and go live in Iceland for a while. Without my mobile or laptop. It is something I promised my family. Well, I might take a big notepad for a few new ideas...
(Photo © Dominik Parzinger)
From Publishers Weekly
More About the Author
He lives in Munich with his family.
Photo © Dominik Parzinger.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book tells the tale of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman with a heart in a small Bavarian town in the 1600's. Naturally, his daughter also has a role in the book, though she is not as prominent as one might expect from the title. In any event, some murders in the town result in the arrest of a midwife for witchcraft, and Jakob and some other well-meaning citizens try to solve the mystery before time runs out for the midwife. Meanwhile, the majority of the village's aldermen are uninterested in the truth and are only interested in protecting their money. The historical aspects of the story are very interesting, and the beginning of the book got off to such an excellent, riveting, and fast-paced start that I recommended it to a friend when I was about halfway through. Unfortunately, things started to slide downhill after that (if you are reading this: sorry Amanda!).
The biggest problem with the book were the 'action' scenes. After the mystery is laid out there is a lot of chasing and hiding and fighting, etc, but not enough to hold my interest. These were sections where I was skimming just to get through them. In addition, by the time the action started, I found myself not caring overly much about either the villains or the heroes in the story.Read more ›
This is very interesting stuff. As is made clear in the novel, executioners were necessary for carrying out legal death sentences, but they and their families were shunned outcasts. They pretty much married only within other executioner families. In addition, executioners were the torturers back when a confession through torture was the legal method of determining guilt. Humans have unlimited ability to rationalize anything. So a suspect is tortured until she confesses to the crime. She is not guilty until she confesses. The torture continues until she confesses, after which she is put to death, or until she dies from the torture without confessing. The moral of the story is, don't make anyone mad enough to blame you for something.
I guess when I think "tried for witchcraft", I usually think "Inquisition". But it wasn't just the church that held trials for accused witches. Anybody could claim injury from a witch, and the secular authorities held their own trials for witchcraft.
For example, the 1692 Salem Witch Trials were secular.* And it's the same in "The Hangman's Daughter".Read more ›
One of the elements that makes this novel so moving is that Kuisl doesn't enjoy torturing and killing innocent people. He has a conscience. He also believes in God, although he finds God more in the beauties of nature than in mankind. Nonetheless, he inherited the job from his father who inherited it from his father. It is just a job, and when he tortures innocent people, including Martha, he realizes that if he didn't do it, someone else would. His affection for Martha, even assisting her to endure the suffering he inflicts, is unforgettable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story with historical context. I have never before thought about how a hangman would have been thought about in darker times and this gave me a whole new perspective on their... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Mrs.RedBeard
This book is truly what they call historical fiction. It is well researched, lively, hard to put down, exciting and an all around a great read. Read morePublished 1 day ago by James E. Frazer
Beautifully written, it keeps you in suspense from the beginning until the very end. With a masterful style and descriptions that make you live every scene, it brings you back some... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Οδυσσέας
0. The people survived a recruiting time. Now it's time to move on to the 2 novel. Forgive my spelling.Published 3 days ago by Diane McGuire
Good combination of history of a less-known time period and a mystery. I really enjoyed it.Published 5 days ago by Shunga