Transcript of Interview with:
‘love, passion, deception,
illusion and disillusion
understanding and forgiveness.’
By Norman Warwick
She had, only minutes earlier, given a quite complex reading from her ninth novel, the first to be translated into English, to members of the Lanzarote Creative Writing Group. She had then provided illuminating responses to the many questions from her audience. Members had subsequently bought their copies, requested her signature and slowly drifted away, no doubt for an afternoon to be spent reading Twists Of Lust And Trust.
Karin Rick, author and academic, was now sitting in the sunshine-flooded courtyard outside Bar Cohiba, Calle Las Acasias, Costa Teguise and the tapas for three, that looked like it might feed the five thousand, was laid out before us.
She and I were to conduct an all across the arts ‘five bums at the bar’ interview, though the bums at the bar needed to be introduced to her. I explained about the five open questions of who, what, when, where, why that all begin with w. If you draw the letter w five times in a row and underline each one, it could be argued that they reveal a view of five bums on bar stools. Karin laughed at the notion but said she’d be more than happy to flesh out her answers. The writing group facilitator, and Writers End blog writer, Sue Almond sat in on our chat.
As I do with many writers, I began by asking who Karin writes for.
‘My public is not limited to a special group. I write from the perspective of a woman and talk about how her body can feel pleasure and how she relates to her partners, either men or women. I would say I write very much for women but also for men who want to know more about their sexuality and their partner’s sexuality.’
I wonder, too, if Karin hears voices in her head of her characters, pleading with her to tell their stories. Does she write for her characters as much as she does for her audience?
‘Yeh. The characters are very important and I want to show different types of sexualities. I may compose a character to show that his sexual desire is not a mainstream desire. Then I try to find out the different angles of this desire. I want to find out how this person discovers it, what his partner thinks of this desire and how all that plays a part in lust or falling in love with someone.’
the essence of that first kiss
That sounds quite a complicated scenario to show readers. You have to demonstrate your characters’ feelings, their imaginations, their desires, even the objects of their desires, so what is the most difficult part of that writing process for you?
‘It’s selecting. At the beginning it is selecting scenes that are characteristic, or appropriate for certain types of characters. I am working constantly selecting scenes and considering how characters would react in a certain situation. I think about how I have seen people react in certain situations and what could be the essence of that situation? What is the essence of that first kiss or sexual encounter? What is so typical of this? For example, in most sexual encounters it is important to remember that people are almost always afraid to show themselves as they really are. You have to always bear in mind that a sexual situation is an existential situation that the whole psychic and physical situation of this person is at stake. And if you don’t remember this, you can’t write such a sexual situation, clearly enough, or clearly about intimate things.’
That all leads me to wonder when you write. Do you write until an idea comes to you or do you only begin writing when the idea has formed in your mind?
‘I wait until the idea comes, but that doesn’t mean that I wait for very long because I usually have a story line in my subconscious and I wait until some moments happen and I want to write them.’
You spoke earlier to the writing group about how painstaking is your editing process. This might suggest that you are constantly writing, but do you in fact have long gaps between novels?
‘I maybe have long gaps between novels, but in the meantime I write as an exercise. My writing is constantly moving because the more I write the more I’m sure about how to write about feelings and emotions. I learn how to write my impressions of people and how to write about the mistakes they make in their lives and relationships. I become more sure about how to write about how and why somebody is hurt by something or is offended. This is very important to me, to show when people feel bad about themselves or others.’
work and work and work……again and again and again
I notice a word you employ a lot is the word important. Meaning, I guess, both important to you and important to your characters and meaning important, too, in the sense that there things we all, as members of society, could better understand about each other. Do you see writing, then, as something more than simply a job? Is it a vocation, even a crusade, in so much as there are topics you want to explore and discuss in your work?
‘I think of it as a vocation that isn’t easy and that compels me to find new subjects and new stories. The easiest part is perhaps the first writing of anything, because you know that first draft will never be published, so you simply write the first things that come to mind. Afterwards comes the hard part, because suddenly you are not happy with a sentence that is too long or too short or that doesn’t really say what you want it to say and then you have to work and work and work at the same situation and the same text again, and again and again and I think that then the vocation becomes a real discipline.’
Another word you used a lot this morning when talking to the group about your characters and their plots was the word control. A famous American songwriter called Hugh Moffatt is a friend of mine, and when one of his lovely songs was considerably changed, and perhaps not for the better, by Dolly Parton and became a big hit, there were many of us who thought that song had been spoiled. He responded by saying to us that a writer must send what he writes on light years of travel and that in doing so he loses control over what might happen to his characters. Is that a sentiment you can relate to? Where might your writing travel to?
‘My writing could well travel to people who might then write down their own stories. My stories might even lead them to change their minds about certain aspects of intimacy, of their consciousness and how they feel with their partner. There is also a theatre group at the moment preparing to act out one of my novels. They are currently exploring how the novel breaks down stereotypes before they enact it.’
Do you look forward, then, to learning what they discover? Do you feel editorial or directorial about it, or are you happy to sit back and see what they discover?
‘Yes, I am happy to wait and see, and I am sure I will like what they are doing, and what they find in my work.’
We’re coming to the end of our five bums at the bar interview, but it is the culminating question in that series which sometimes authors seem to find the hardest to answer, or perhaps the one they are most reluctant to answer. The question is, why do you write? That question seems pertinent given that you have talked about how hard work it is editing every sentence thirty times or more, so why do you do it?
‘I write because the moments I am writing are when I feel the most connected to the world. When I am not writing I seem to drift away from the world and I become isolated. When I write I am reconnected to the world and its human beings and to myself.’
Whenever I am working with children in schools, I tell them that I write for dead people, in the sense that I tell stories of those who have gone before that will be told to those yet to be born, and in that sense I guess we all write for the world don’t we? But I always wonder when talking to successful authors like yourself, about the most important question of all, that always sits away from the five bums at the bar. It is not a w question but it is simply HOW,….how do you do what you do?
‘Simply, I sit down and write. And words come, and characters and situations come. Then a sentence comes. A sentence I could not have previously imagined. It’s like an image of words, and that is so beautiful, because then it seems to come out of my mind without my really doing anything ! Almost automatic.’
In England,… we talk loudly and proudly of the western canon of literature. Does Karin Rick belong in that canon, do you feel? Do your books speak to others in that huge body of work?
‘In some canon, yes. Perhaps not in the classical literature. My genre of writing is of another tradition, perhaps. A French tradition. I have been asked earlier by writing group members
who are my favourite authors. I referred to French literature and see myself and my work as part of that tradition of how French contemporary authors describe so well the place of the self, the ego, the I in this world.’
the connection to people is important to me
This interview is being recorded on the exotic island of Lanzarote but will go into regional newspapers in The UK in places as non-exotic as Rochdale and Bury and into e zines and radio programmes with global internet audiences. So tell people all over the world where they can get hold of any of the nine novels by Karin Rick.
‘Please just Google my name Karin Rick and there you will find a list of my publications so far, and the current book, now translated into English is called Twists Of Lust And Trust. It is a passionate love story between two women, one of whom has two children, and it’s about love, passion, deception, illusion and disillusion and understanding and forgiveness.’
That’s the advertising done then, and I realise that this is all part of the work of an author. But what do writers really hope to achieve by giving talks to relatively small groups such as this?
‘The connection to people is important to me and giving them an impression of my ideas personally, not only through my literature. And it is good to sense a reaction to my work. After my books are sold I rarely get the opportunity to speak to a reader. To be an author is to be part of an isolated profession.’
And yet the talk this morning became very animated. There were lots of questions and good dialogue from Sue’s members. Sue has, by the way, just passed to me a crumpled piece of paper with three words scrawled on it. She has done that silently of course, because we’re on the radio, but the note says simply,…. available on amazon. What’s that all about?
‘I think she is reminding me to say that Twists Of Lust And Trust is available on amazon, so if you can’t find it in a shop you can order it on your computer. All my German language books are there, too, and on my web page I have an English section on which all my short stories, and press clippings, too have been translated.’
We all know how words can be misunderstood, or lost in translation, so how do you oversee these translations and ensure your vision remains intact?
‘I cannot oversee them all. One translator for instance skipped some of the details of the erotic scenes because, I think, that translator was very conservative and found it strange to be the translator of such sentences. I had fun working with the English translator, Ida Cerne because I can speak English, but I don’t have any control over translation into Russian, for instance. Of course, things do get lost in translation. Dostoevsky’s title of Guilt And Redemption became Crime And Punishment, didn’t it, which is not quite the same thing, is it?’
All the questions have been answered and the Tapas has all been consumed, and now is a good time to close the interview.
For Sue Almond’s review of Twists Of Lust And Trust, however, you should follow
(Available as a book and also as an e book from Amazon)