On Thursday 9 April, Ursula Poznanski is going to present her novel Five at the ACF London as part of our crime literature event Killer Thrillers from Austria. We wanted to get some insight into her work, so we asked her about her popular detective duo, the suspense of crime literature and the inspiration for”the right story”.
You have built a reputation as a children’s author and writer of Young Adult Fiction. Would you say that it was it part of a natural progress to move to adult fiction? Or was there a pivotal moment that made you change your tone, or focus?
It felt like a natural progress. But I have to say I never planned to limit myself to a certain genre or audience. I always wrote whatever felt right to me at the time. That said, there was a very distinctive moment when I knew I would start writing for grown-ups. The day the idea on which “Five” is based, came to my mind, it was obvious that this couldn’t be the subject of anything close to Young Adult Fiction.
Why Crime Literature?
Because I like writing stories that circle around a mystery and I like building suspense – both elements that are inherent to crime novels. Also, I like reading them myself.
Why are you using different names for your German / English publications (Ursula Poznanski / U. Archer, respectively)?
My English publisher suggested using a more memorable name for the English speaking market. One of my grandmothers’ maiden names was Archer, so we agreed on that.
With Five, Blinde Vögel (“Blind Birds”, not yet translated) and Stimmen (“Voices”, not yet translated) you created a series about the detective duo Beatrice Kaspari and Florin Wenninger. There is a lot of interest online concerning their relationship. How much of what is happening, are you planning in advance? Do you have a “bigger picture” in mind for their storyline?
A lot has happened in the two books that have been following “Five”, but I won’t tell, I’m afraid. And yes, there is a bigger picture in my mind, but that’s not unchangeable. Right now I have quite a clear conception of how they are going to get along in the next book.
Why did you choose to set Five in Salzburg, rather than Vienna where you live?
I love Vienna, but there is already a ton of murder mysteries taking place there. So I thought I’d go for something different, plus I needed a more rural environment for “Five”. Salzburg felt perfect – it’s incredibly beautiful and you find urban elements very close to the country. Also, I know Salzburg quite well, because I have a holiday-apartment not far away. That came in very handy.
Can you tell us a bit about how you go about building suspense? Is that something you plan with a lot of consideration to detail, or something that just happens in the course of writing the story?
Most thought goes into the construction of the case. I definitely need to know who committed the crime and why before I start writing. The details of the story on the other hand emerge during the writing process. It’s a mixture of planning and going with the moment.
What inspires you to write?
The right story. That’s the most important thing. It gets me over the hours and days of unimaginativeness, lack of motivation and simple laziness. All of that occurs, once in a while. In that case I also find tea and music very helpful to get back on track.
You can follow Ursula on twitter – or, even better, meet her in person at our event Killer Thrillers from Austria on 9 April: In this immersive performative reading our salon will be transformed into a crime scene and Ursula will be in conversation with translator Jamie Searle Romanelli and the event’s curator Jen Calleja.