Interview with Volker G. Fremuth, author of “The Workshop”

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

This is an interesting question, as I never intended to be a writer. I started in advertising and design. I took a role as a creative director early in my career and found myself copy writing by necessity. As I progressed into corporate marketing, communications and business, I found myself writing a great deal of copy, press releases and business articles. Consequently the creative writing of this type of fiction seemed to be a natural melding of my love of literature and history, my experience, my interests and my continued pursuit of creative expression.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My debut novel “The Workshop” took me about two years to research and write. The concept however has lived with me for many years so one could argue the inspiration for a book being part of the process of molding the storyline is a summation of the years of your life’s experience.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Keeping in mind that I still have a “day job” my writing is largely done on weekends, on airplanes, in hotels as I travel for work and all too often when I cannot sleep. I might suggest a similar schedule to those who read a book.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I am, and will always be, visually driven, creatively. Consequently my writing is done largely as a description of what I was seeing in my mind’s eye. As my characters go through the action of the storyline, I feel as though I am chronicling their experience, seeing it as it happens. This is perhaps why I have heard more than a few times, “this would make a great movie” because this is in effect how I experienced it.

How do books get published?

After finishing and tweaking the draft of my book, I sought to find a publisher. It became quickly apparent that most publishers did not want to take any risk in publishing an unproven talent. Indeed, as I have no celebrity credentials nor did I come with a preexisting audience few would even consider reading the manuscript. So I opted to self-publish for both expediency and artistic freedom. I have not regretted going in this direction to date.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I suppose I identify with Jason, the main character of my novel “The Workshop”, who is a bit of a workaholic driven by the pursuits of the corporate machine which occupies too much of his time. Still, when I can break free of work and writing, I enjoy working on my house and yard, other creative endeavors in the visual arts and interests ranging from flying to horseback riding.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

When I first started writing “The Workshop”, the concept had been winding through the passages in my mind for some time, a long time. It was a fanciful “what if” question, a playful ruse, spawned from a brief conversation with a friend as a teenager. My cynical answer to him at that time remained with me. As I grew older the concept became even more interesting and sophisticated. Eventually I felt compelled to put it to paper and drew on my own experience, knowledge, and research. It should be noted that all of the technological, social, economic, and political activities and history are based in fact and manipulated only to help drive the narrative.

What does your family think of your writing?

My wife is my strongest critic and yet my staunchest supporter. The rest of my family seem to be surprised I can string two sentences together.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I can actually write them.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

The audience for my book is still a very small community. That said the different perspective put forth in my book intrigues many. One of the most common comments I hear is “thought provoking”. I am rather humbled and proud of that.

Do you like to create books for kids or adults? and Why?

Even as a child I did not relate well to children. I was always more comfortable addressing adults in both concept and conversation. Consequently, my book “The Workshop” and the one I am currently writing are decidedly adult in orientation. That sounds humorless, which is not the case, but I expect that the themes are likely more relevant to an adult audience.

What do you think makes a good story?

Good writing can entertain, even draw you in and bring you into the experience, but a truly good story should stay with you when it is done. A good story should leave something of itself behind even when you move on to the next, a thought that made you question the world around you, a perspective that changed your point of view, strengthened a conviction or simply makes you smile when you think back on it.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

The funny thing is that like many children I wanted to be a paleontologist or cosmologist. Simply put, I wanted to be a scientist. Still, it was apparent at a very early age that I would pursue a career in the arts. That path deviated but never truly diverged.

Who is your favorite fictional couple, and why?

Perhaps not the answer one might expect but, as I am a big fan of Tolkien’s writing, my immediate reaction is Sam and Frodo. Though the question implies a romantic relationship it need not be so and though there has been some speculation, I do not believe this was Tolkien intent. Though Tolkien could have explored this relationship in greater depth at times was very this relationship was artfully woven between of professional reverence, subservience, kinship, friendship, antagonistic, sympathetic, mentorship and, the ever modern interpretation, a bromance. As I said my immediate reaction, I would suggest, however, if you asked me this same question tomorrow my answer might be different.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

No, quite on the contrary. I find that the reinterpretation of grammar to better drive the writing can be a very effective tool. There are a tremendous number of grammatical conventions broken in good writing. I submit into evidence William Shakespeare and Mark Twain whose constant twisting of how grammar is used has, indeed, created entirely new conventions. For my own writing in my current project, I allow the dialog of my characters to help define them both socially and economically.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

My novel “The Workshop” was reasonably thought through when I started writing it. So I had a rough outline as to where the story would go. I did find it fascinating when the story strayed and I liked that experience. I had once suggested that all I was doing was “reading a story that hadn’t been written yet”. On my current project I set out to allow the story to wander and let the idea take me into whatever direction it wanted to go, but I found I did not make enough headway and went back loosely outlined the story to allow for the structure to guide the writing.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time. In my case writing is not my primary job and that makes finding the time to write difficult.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

It really depends on the genre. In my novel “The Workshop” the fanciful nature of the concept would require a lot of research to allow me to try to make it appear realistic. So I felt making historical, legal, scientific references gave the story credibility and tight research was paramount in getting this accomplished.

Have you ever designed your own book cover?

As I am both self-published and have a background in commercial art I did and expect I will always have a major impact on the cover of my books.

Do your novels carry a message?

They do, but not one uniform one, I suppose that a reader should draw their own conclusion as to what to think. I am happy if I can spur the conversation and better yet the contemplation of one’s surroundings. The message is not so much of, ‘this what you should think’ but rather ‘what do you think about this?’

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