Sebastian Fitsek in an interview on Write or Die: Why do women actually read more crime novels than men?

  • Sebastian Fitzek is one of the most successful German authors – he has been writing books since 2006, mainly thrillers, but also children’s books and short stories.
  • He has now worked with comedian Mickey Bezenhairs: the joint book “Write or Die” will be published March 30th.
  • In an interview with our editors, Fitzk spoke about the coronavirus pandemic, explaining why more women are reading crime literature and revealing why he hasn’t written a book on Vladimir Putin.

An unknown virus invades the world. People panic, hoarding continues, conspiracy theories circulate, face masks must be worn, which some describe as “gags,” civil war-like conditions and curfews prevail, and many assume that the media is under government control. The new virus kills a person in a short time, the symptoms are terrible.

No, this is not a description of the coronavirus pandemic, but a description of the pandemic caused by the “Manila Flu”. The “Manila Flu” does not exist, it is only found in a book by Sebastian Fitzk. Noah is said to have entered the book market in 2012 – and in 2022 it almost looks as if the author had his own crystal ball at home, giving him a glimpse into the not-too-distant future at the time of writing.

Mr. Fitsk, after reading your book “Noah”, were you in any way surprised by the Corona epidemic?

Sebastian Vitsek: Yes of course I was very surprised and did not prepare for it! I thought the story would remain a fantasy and I wished it were. I don’t want to portray individual suffering in my books. Reality inspires me, but – like so many others – I’m sick of Corona, I just got an infection. Now, like so many others, I hope we finally get over this and that fewer people get infected. And most importantly, fewer people die.

We go from one crisis to the next. Are you now writing a book on Putin?

no! No no no no no! Of course, this personally moves me a lot and it might be obvious to address my concerns and thoughts. But I have a problem with True Crime. When people tell me, “The murder you described didn’t actually happen,” I say “Fortunately!” I just use killing as a stepping stone, a catalyst for dealing with the life to be defended. But with Putin this is real, people suffer and die. I couldn’t address my fears in a book here, then arrange them on a bookshelf and say, “Fortunately, this cup will pass me by.” It is the same as with Corona. With both, I hope reality writes a happy ending — and as soon as possible.

You have been writing books since 2006, and 35 of them are listed on your website. There are children’s books, short stories and collaborations with other authors. How do you make something like this?

I need between nine and ten months for a book. I always wanted to write something funny and at the beginning of the Corona pandemic I thought to myself: It is especially important to have something to laugh about right now. So an idea came to me that I’ve been sitting on for years, “The First Last Day”. It was a surprising success—especially among readers usually unrelated to Fitzek. Men in particular said, “I’ve always avoided psychological thrills, but this book finally made me laugh.” Stress literature is read more often by women than men.

why is that?

This is a very good question. I’ve been in this ever since I started writing thrillers. My esteemed colleague Melanie Rappe gave me one of the best answers: It may be due to the fact that women are – unfortunately – statistically more likely to be victims of violence than men and therefore have a greater need to deal with these issues. This is what crime fiction does: it deals with the absolute exception. It is not the norm that we are robbed, kidnapped and tortured every day. We prefer to face this fear imaginatively. The book can then be placed on the shelf.

I read here Book review by Sebastian Fitzke and Mickey Bezenherz Write or Die.

Fitzick’s new book Write or Die: Was it the Idea or Beisenhere’s First?

The idea for Sebastian Fiesek (left) and Mickey Bezenhairs to work together has been around for a long time.

© Thomas Berlin

Sebastian Fitzick has now written a new book, Write or Die. For the first time, Mickey Besenheurz was his co-author. The book is about a mysterious psychopath who claims to have kidnapped a nine-year-old girl. He does not want to talk to the detectives about his crime, but to a literary agent – he is supposed to give him a publisher’s advance of one million euros and in return he tells him where to hide the little girl. The literary agent must also write the story of the kidnapping and make it big.

What came first with “Write or Die”: the idea or Mickey Bezinherz?

The idea has been around for a long time. Mickey and I met in 2009 or 2010 when he had a radio show on Kiss FM in Berlin that I was a guest on. We soon realized that we were on the same wavelength when it came to humor. Also, we both love to read exciting stories and love to write. And so the idea quickly arose: let’s do something together. Fortunately, it wasn’t just talk. At one point I sent him the first draft and asked if we’d like to work together on a book that makes you laugh on one side and on the next page that gets your laughter stuck in your throat.

How did you two work together – did one write first and then the other?

Mickey read my first draft and then we talked about endings, twists, twists, turns and turning points — which changed the story. Not only was I responsible for the tension, it brought with me a basic sense of humor. Mickey can stick to him, he can change something here and there. He was bouncing back and forth like ping pong. We didn’t argue at all either, it was always clear which one was better. Since we were humble.

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Have you tried the “Write or Die” story yourself? Have you ever received a criminal offer to help you solve a crime in exchange for a book deal?

not that. But there are many real people in this book who are named as well. Featured is my literary agent Roman Hawke, as well as publishing director Doris Jansen of Droemer-Verlag.

They also show themselves.

That’s right (laughs). I have a little headshot that I’m not doing all that well. But I wrote it myself.

“I hope reality writes a happy ending – and as soon as possible”

Is there something that makes Write or Die different from other books?

The basis of the book is a look behind the scenes of the publishing world. But also a small writing workshop and the question: “How do you design a plot?” It’s a little different than what you did before. The book also differs in style because real characters appear in it. There are many riddles and funny thrillers that feature clumsy detectives who make blunders and experience weird groin slapping situations. You rarely find real people with such a special perspective on things in life. This is what creates the comedy in Write or Die. I hope we succeeded and that the book is also different from the others in that it is still a thriller rather than a comedy.

Write or Die by Sebastian Fiesek and Mickey Bizenherz will be published on March 30, 2022 by Droemer-Verlag

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