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)