“Writing to connect with the feelings and memories of my own childhood” | Elisabeth Steinkellner, Aarhus 39

“Writing to connect with the feelings and memories of my own childhood” | Elisabeth Steinkellner, Aarhus 39

Elisabeth Steinkellner is an acclaimed Austrian writer, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe. Elisabeth will be appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017 later this month. Here she talks about her new story for Odyssey, our new anthology of  stories for young adults, inspired by journeys. 

Tell us about your story…
My story is about a young couple at a special point in their relationship; about wanting one thing but doing another; about being together and apart at the same time; about holding back essential informations; and about the decision to go on a journey – but each one on their own.

Why did you pick that theme?
The story developed during the process of writing and I just let it happen.

When did you decide to become an author? And when did you publish your first book?
When I was sixteen I dreamed of becoming an author, but for the following ten years I thought it could never be more than a dream, and therefore I turned to other things, giving the writing just a secret role in my life. However, in 2008 I wrote my first story for children, and my partner, Michael Roher, made illustrations for it. We decided to send the project to a publishing house, and it actually worked out and the book was published in 2010. At that moment, I realized that my dream was coming true.

What is special about writing for children / young adults?
For me, writing for children or teenagers means to connect with the feelings and memories of my own childhood. The time of growing up is accompanied by particularly intense emotions, perhaps because you are experiencing many things for the very first time in your life. That’s what I find so fascinating about writing about this stage of life.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the anthology and the Hay Festival?
I’m excited to get to know other European authors writing for children, teenagers and young adults, and I’m happy and proud to be part of Hay Festival, which points attention to the variety of European children’s literature.

Do you have a favorite spot where you write? Where is that? And why is that your favorite spot?
I prefer writing at my desk or on the couch. During warm seasons I also like writing outside in the nature, sitting on a bench or in the grass.

How do you get inspired?
I get inspired by what is happening around me, what I see, what I hear; by the books I read, the movies I watch, the music I listen to; by what is happening in society, in politics; by the lives of the ones closest to me, my family, my friends; and maybe most of all by my own feelings, memories and dreams.