I’m delighted to be joined by Juliet Conlin today. I loved her previous novels The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days and The Lives Before Us. Click the titles if you’d like to read my reviews. Like many authors, the virus pandemic has meant that Juliet’s real life book launch celebrations have been cancelled so we are celebrating the launch online instead. My April reading list was already rather full so I hope to bring you a review next month. In the meantime, here are #TenThings Juliet Conlin would like her readers to know about her.
I am a trained scientist
I have a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and worked as a research scientist for several years. What fascinates and inspires me is the common ground between art and science: both are interested in fundamental questions about the world, and both are ultimately aimed at understanding and explaining these issues, albeit using very different sets of tools.
I live in Berlin
With its low rents and costs of living, Berlin is a haven for artists. Here, I can go to a concert by the world’s best philharmonic orchestra one evening, and open mic readings in artist collectives’ squats the next. Due to its eventful history, the place is infused with a gritty restlessness and experimental spirit that is truly inspiring.
Nature and me
I love nature, because it is the exact opposite of art. I try and spend as much time as I can in natural environments, because it is both humbling and inspiring to know that nature was here before me and will (hopefully) be here long after I’ve gone.
I have number form synaesthesia
In my brain, numbers are more than their value, they have very distinct properties. Odd numbers are round and soft, and even numbers are sharp and slightly unpleasant. I also perceive numbers in three-dimensional space. I like to think of it as my brain making weird, creative connections.
I used to hate opera …
… until my son became a classical singer. I found it loud, over-dramatic and kitschy. But through the eyes of my son, I learned to appreciate the exquisite storytelling of opera, and can now only wonder at the almost super-human, organic sounds that the human body can produce.
I love lists
It may sound strange to be inspired by lists, but unless you are independently wealthy, you probably have other things to accomplish during your day, e.g. your day job, the school run, housework etc. I find it very liberating to tick chores off my list, freeing up valuable time and mental space for my creative writing.
I am an exophonic writer
… that is, I also write in a language that is not my native tongue. My native language is English, but I also write in German. Having access to two different languages is a great asset, especially as a writer. If I can’t find the right word in one language, I’ll switch to the other and work my way back, and am amazed at how malleable a language can be.
I try to get of my comfort zone
Like everyone, I have preferences for certain types of music, books, climates and foods. But it can really get the creative juices flowing when I break out of my comfortable habits – by hitting the nightlife at 2 am, listening to Indonesian folk music, talking to strangers on the bus – to let in new information and insights.
I have four children
My children inspire my creativity two-fold. On the one hand, children’s imaginations are far less constrained than adults’ about what is ‘true’ (why shouldn’t a tree be purple?). But being a parent also requires a high level of creativity: ‘veggie-faces’ on their plates to get them to eat their greens, inventing comforting stories to get them to sleep, or to take their fears away about monsters under the bed.
I take time out to let my brain rest
Well, this is probably just an excuse to binge-watch Netflix! But I find it important to take regular ‘brain’ breaks, to switch off and not worry about finding the right plot line, the right character trait or the right twist to my story.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publishers Black and White for my review copy of the book. Sister of Berlin is available now as an ebook and in paperback. You can order a copy directly from Black and White here: Sisters of Berlin
From the back of the book
Berlin 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.
In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina’s life is a comfortable, conventional one– until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead.
For Nina, Marie’s brutal demise – and that of her unborn child – tips her own carefully controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge,
Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.
About the author
Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).
Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Daniela Sacerdoti, James Robertson, Estelle Maskame, Nick Alexander, Richard Gordon, Alex Norton, Millie Gray, Sally Magnusson and Tony Black. We produce an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction, biography, sport and humour, as well as selected fiction, young adult and children’s books.
This year, we’ve started an exciting new alliance with PGUK who now provide sales representation for our titles, and GBS continue to distribute our books. Our eBooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Over recent years, our range of fiction has grown following recent eBook successes such as Daniela Sacerdoti’s Glen Avich series, which has sold nearly a million copies to date. These new alliances and our e-book successes are helping us shape and develop the list in new ways to bring more exciting new titles to both local and global markets.
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