Shattered Dreams: Interview with debut author Ulff Lehmann
German born but English writing author, Ulff Lehmann, was raised reading, almost any and everything, from the classic Greek to Roman to Germanic myths to more appropriate fiction for children his age. Initially devouring books in his native language, he switched to reading English books during a year long stay in the USA as a foreign exchange student.
In the years since, he has lost count of the books he has read, unwilling to dig into the depths of his collection. An avid fantasy reader, he grew dissatisfied with the constant lack of technological evolution in many a fantasy world, and finally, when push came to shove, he began to realize not only his potential as a story-teller but also his vision of a mythical yet realistic world in which to settle the tale in he had been developing for 20 years.
We are pleased to let Ulff take the reins for a bit here on Grimmedian and respond to a few questions.
You’re a having a dinner party and the guests are your main characters. How do you see this playing out?
That depends. Considering that my main characters, for the most part, know each other, it depends on who is invited, really. For reasons that will be revealed in the sequels to Shattered Dreams certain people won’t play nice together. In fact were they to cross paths, I reckon the struggle might be over quick, but then nobody would be too enthused about the food anymore.
Take one person out of the equation, and things look much brighter.
It surely would be a lively group, trading stories, bawdy and brutal, horrendous and humorous, and there’d be drink. The only person who’d eat in silence and just observe would be Drangar, mainly because he dislikes being under such scrutiny. And if a certain squirrel were around, even he might be prone to burst out laughing on more than one occasion.
Give us a word or two that best describes you and why?
I say what I think, think what I say, and don’t give a fuck if I offend anyone with my words. I know what’s right and wrong based on experience, and openly mock pretentiousness wherever I go.
You either like or dislike me. There are a few that “come around” after a while, but I don’t make any special effort to woo people to my side, see the opinionated bit.
When you’re seeking an epiphany while tackling the plot, when and where do your best ideas seem to hit you?
The best ideas come to me in the worst places. Be it whilst taking a dump, with no writing paper and pen anywhere nearby, or a heartbeat away from falling asleep, or in the shower shampooing my hair. None of them are particularly ideal, for their own specific environs.
A lot of Victorian writers wrote under the influence, have you ever done so?
Write under the influence of what? Alcohol? Sure, I tried, that went about as well as I expected. Meaning no coherent sentence left my fingers. I still don’t get how those geezers could do that. I mean, I could philosophize with the best drunks, and probably sounded rather coherent for the first 3-4 liters of beer (and not the weak ass American light beer shit, I’m talking about the good stuff, the German stuff)
Anyway, turns out maybe I wasn’t that coherent when drunk either. Not that I can remember much of it. Near eidetic memory my ass.
I also tried editing under the influence of… substances. I had just published my first short story in a fanzine. The fantasy club I was part of rents a large area, sometimes castle, other times some other place, for roughly 7-9 days once a year for the “Fest der Phantasie” (Fantasy Fest). At the time I was part of the club, it was a castle, and the bar opened at 10 AM, a splendid time for a subconsciously suicidal idiot like yours truly to begin the second breakfast, not the hobbit variety *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* Anyway, on one particular day I had promptly forgotten that I was supposed to meet up with a friend for an editing session. By the time she dragged me to a table to talk about my story I had not only consumed a few bottles of the local brew, but also partaken in the sampling of the hobbit weed, if you catch my drift.
Needless to say, it was a hilarious failure. I tried to read with her, meaning I thought I could match her reading pace. An intoxicated, stoned out mind is a curious thing. Several times I penned in the stuff she told me to put there only to be reminded of me having actually written those parts already and would just have to shuffle up the sentence. Of course that was always a part I had not yet reached, thinking she was at another part… need I say more?
What is the first book you read that made you cry?
DragonLance Chronicles, not sure which title of those first three books. The one where Flint Fireforge dies. Didn’t see that one coming. Grumpy old dwarf just dies, for no reason other than old age. I could, of course, fabricate a wholly different tale about me looking through this old massive tome as a child, and the mean librarian shutting it before my eyes while my index finger was still inside. That bastard made me cry.
Know what? I go with story number Two, sounds far more traumatizing, we writers are all about trauma, aren’t we? Can’t write under the influence but at least I was traumatized by a book other than the good book.
How did publishing your book change your process of writing?
I could now talk about how much more disciplined I’ve become since publishing the first book. Fact of the matter is, when I’m writing I’m always disciplined. That doesn’t mean I write all the time. But when I do I am disciplined because I don’t do shit otherwise.
Otherwise the process is still the same. Has to be the same, for the simple reason that it is the only way for me. I could now regale you with the tale of woe that was my childhood and youth, how all things just came easily to me, and I never learned to learn and thus never acquired the necessary discipline one needs to do pretty much everything.
In behavior therapy we developed a way to help me with that, and though I have altered it to accommodate for my less than stellar wealth (euphemism for I ain’t got no money) I still follow the same blueprint for writing. If I’m on the move, I write 5 pages per day, sometimes more, sometimes less but always around that number. So no, my approach hasn’t changed. What has changed is the planning I will put into the next series of books, once my magnum opus is done. I will develop the characters and their relationships beforehand, not that I hadn’t done so in the past, but never in a more formalized way. I need to for the intrigue ridden gritty spy and war thriller type of thing in the same fantasy world. Think Jason Bourne meets Braveheart, in my fantasy world, of course.
Is there a book you have read in totality or partially that you’d want to erase from your mind?
One? Just one?! And I have to decide? Shit… Do I retain the memory of me never ever wanting to touch the bastard so that I won’t ever touch the bastard? If not, then it’s kind of pointless, isn’t it?
Oh, I will remember never to touch that bastard again? Cool…
Just one book? I can’t do just one book. That’s like saying “which Nazi scum do you wanna kill” you can’t stop at just one! Sure there are a few select tomes I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, stuff that is good against constipation, in my opinion, bad shit for a good shit, that sort of thing. But of all the stuff I have read one particular book comes to mind:
Doktor Faustus by Thomas Mann. Yes, that’s the German title. Why the fuck would I use the English title (which only replaces the “k” with a “c” by the by) when I was forced to endure that particular horror in its original German. To explain my loathing for this particular book you must know that I revere books, probably like every other booklover in the world, so nothing new there. I berate myself when I drop a book, wish eternal damnation on the bastards who mistreat my books, and under no circumstances will I ever throw a book. With Doktor Faustus I made an exception. This pretentious bullshit is called “literary fiction,” in my opinion, for the most part, an elegant way of saying “This shit does smell of lavender…” Not!
There’s a few others, but to prevent Doktor Faustus I’d build a fucking time machine and off Thomas Mann before he ever came up with the idea. A worthy cause indeed.
What did you edit out of this book?
That one’s easy: all the useless shit. Language gets away with us writers, we write adverbs or adjectives galore in the beginning, and then, once we’re finished with the first draft, we put pencil to paper and delete all the useless shit.
The blinding sunlight… what the fuck else would it be? He crawled stealthily… of course he did, otherwise he could have walked, or meandered… Some writers like this stuff, I don’t. I subscribe to the school of thought that if the word needs an ad-something you gotta find a stronger word or sentence. (*sings* blinded by the light) Sure, sometimes it just fits, but when I read of “waves smashing fiendlishly against the cliffs” I wanna slit my wrists, and not in the kinky fun way.
Any superfluous word or sentence or expression that I can find will die by my hand. Doktor Faustus would have been a much shorter book, some might call it pamphlet even, had I had my way with it. I fucking hate the rape of words just to appear, you know, literary. USE A FUCKING THESAURUS AND STOP WANKING OFF WITH IT!!!
Seriously, the wordy shit seems more like masturbation to me than anything else. “See here, I have got not one or two but ten thesauri, and I know not how to use them…” If something, be it word or sentence or paragraph, is there for the sole reason of “but it sounds nice” it needs to die, die, die! We’re telling stories, not prosaic beautification classes. That does not mean language should not be beautiful, but if it’s just beauty for beauty’s sake with no inherent value to the story… kill it!
click this cover to get your copy
- Print Length: 413 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Crossroad Press (March 16, 2018)
- Publication Date: March 16, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07BJ46JP6
Epic Fantasy filled to the brim with Grimdark Reality. If one looks too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Drangar Ralgon has been avoiding the abyss’s gaze for far too long and now he turns to face it.
For a hundred years the young kingdom of Danastaer has thrived in peace. Now their northern neighbor, mighty Chanastardh, has begun a cunning invasion. Thrust into events far beyond his control, the mercenary Drangar Ralgon flees his solitary life as a shepherd to evade the coming war and take responsibility for his crimes.
In Dunthiochagh, Danastaer’s oldest city, the holy warrior Kildanor uncovers the enemy’s plans for invasion. As ancient forces reach forth to shape the world once more, the sorceress Ealisaid wakes from a century of hibernation only to realize the Dunthiochagh she knew is no more. Magic, believed long gone, returns, and with it comes an elven wizard sent to recover a dangerous secret.
SHATTERED DREAMS is a rich, layered high fantasy, the beginning of an epic that will be well worth following for years to come. Looming menace, thoughtful world-building; a winner! –Ed Greenwood (NYTimes bestselling fantasy writer)