Saturday, August 30, 2014

Author interview - Cora Buhlert

Cora is one of the co-hosts of the Speculative Fiction Showcase, and has agreed to be the first to do one of our author interviews. The questions will vary somewhat from interview to interview.

And now - over to Cora!

  1. These days, most writers are glued to their laptops, tablets, and/or e-readers. A few still swear by print books and typewriters, the question is: Do you move at all?

Sitting too much is something of an occupational risk for writers. I try to counter this by making sure I get up regularly (and not just to go to the loo either). I also exercise and do yoga. Sometimes, I even go hiking in the woods near my home.

  1. Apple or PC?

PC since approx. 1987, that is pre-Windows days.

  1. Do you use Scrivener or Word? 
     Up until approx. 2010, I used mostly Lotus Word-Pro, because I'd been using it for years. But              these days I use Word. In my day job, I'm a tech and business translator and Word is what most          customers require. I've heard good things about Scrivener, but I haven't tried it yet. 

  1. Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?

As long as the adaptation is good, I don't have a preference. The Shattered Empire and the Silencer series would probably work best as TV series, my standalones would probably be more suited to movies.

  1. Are you hooked on any science fiction or fantasy TV shows? If so, which one(s)?

I'm a comic book fan from way back, so I watch Arrow and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and am looking forward to the new comic book related shows Agent Carter, The Flash and Constantine. I also watch Game of Thrones, though my enthusiasm has somewhat flagged during the most recent season, and am looking forward to Outlander.

  1. Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?

I own them, extended edition even, but I must confess I don't watch them all that often. The Star Wars movies, particularly the original trilogy, and the Marvel Avengersverse movies get far more of a workout.

  1. Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?

Not yet. I'm waiting for the DVD boxset. I rarely go to the theatre anymore, because movie theatres are rather pricey and the experience isn't all that pleasant.

  1. Are you a Luddite? Or do you prefer to be on the bleeding edge of technology?

It really depends on the type of technology. For example, I use a fairly basic cell phone (and a really ancient one, too, until my old phone died last year) and not a smartphone, because I'm not a phone person. On the other hand, I have an extensive collection of computer equipment.
With regards to reading, however, I am a Luddite. I own an e-reader, a Kobo Glo, but I mostly use it to check my formatting and when travelling. For reading at home, I still prefer print.

  1. What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?

I eat fairly healthy. Lots of vegetables, some fish and chicken, some dairy, very little red meat and very few prepared and processed foods. Of course, I sometimes like junk food as well, but even with potato chips and chocolate (What would a writer do without chocolate?) I try to go for the higher quality brands. Luckily, there is a gourmet chocolate outlet store near my home, where you can buy a big bag of chocolates for a fracture of what a small box normally costs.

  1. Do you cook? What is your best/favorite/most popular recipe?

I love cooking and cook pretty much every day, though I sometimes eat out as well or make something ahead. I cook a lot of pasta, curries, vegetable and rice dishes, because that's what I like. I don't make a lot of traditional German dishes (though I could make them, if required), because they're mostly too heavy and too bland for my tastes.
The big exception is herring salad made according to a recipe handed down from my grandma, which we always have between Christmas and New Year. Though I've adapted my grandma's recipe a bit, because the original is designed to feed an army. Plus, raspberry juice has become almost impossible to procure, so nowadays I use cranberry juice.

  1. Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?

I live in a semi-rural suburb, so we have a vegetable garden and a greenhouse. It's great, because it means we always have fresh vegetables (and freeze the surplus for the winter). Plus, it's cheaper than buying them at the supermarket and some of the rarer vegetables are very difficult to get hold of. We grow beans (several types), peas, tomatoes, potatoes, kale (kale is very big in North Germany), cabbage, spinach, lettuce, kohlrabi, turnips, chilli peppers, strawberries, herbs, etc… We also used to grow pumpkins and zucchini, but it's usually cheaper to buy them.

  1. Have you ever been to Starbucks?

I think I've been inside a Starbucks maybe twice in my life, when there wasn't another option available. But mostly I prefer independent coffeeshops and local chains. Germany has a great selection of independent coffeehouses, usually tied to a bakery and pastry shop, that have a lot more character and a more interesting range of products than the chains. One drawback is that independent coffeeshops mostly don't offer free WiFi. But when you're writing, WiFi is more of a distraction anyway.
Some of my favourite coffeeshops are Café Knigge in Bremen, founded in 1889 and famous for its Klaben, a type of Christmas cake, Café Burrichter in Vechta with an interior straight from the 1930s and the best Spekulatius cookies anywhere (the rest of their pastries are also awesome) and Weyman's bakery, wine bar and coffeeshop in Twistringen, which is among my personal top three bakeries in North West Germany.

  1. Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?

I always make myself a pot of tea, usually looseleaf, before sitting down to write, though I also drink a lot of water throughout the day, mostly bottled, sometimes tap. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but since we got one of those Italian coffeemakers, I find myself drinking more coffee than I used to, mostly latte.

  1. Do you wear socks?

Sure. Right now, I wear yellow cotton bamboo socks. Earlier today, I wore mint green socks, but then I went into the garden and had to change them afterwards.

  1. What are you wearing right now?

Sweatpants and a Superman t-shirt. And yellow cotton bamboo socks.

  1. Do you do your own laundry?

Sure. Sadly, writers aren't all issued with a clone of Thomas Mann's very devoted wife Katja who took care of pretty much everything, so her husband could write. However, I'd prefer my personal Katja Mann clone to come in the form of Chris Hemsworth or John Barrowman or Anthony Mackie or – well, you get the idea. Though I suspect Thomas Mann would have preferred that version as well.

  1. Does life fascinate you?

Of course. If you're a writer, I think it has to.

  1. Do you recycle?

I'm German. Recycling is our national pastime.

  1. Do you do Yoga? Meditation? or Deep Breathing? Does it help you cope?

I regularly do some yoga exercises and feel much healthier, since I started a couple of years ago.

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?

Maybe an eight. I actually used to think I was pretty boring (and as a teenager I guess I was). But nowadays, when I happen to come across some former classmates, they've mostly become really boring and conservative and set in their ways. I think writing (and teaching and translating) keeps you a lot more open to new experiences and makes you a more interesting person.

  1. What’s your astrological sign?

Aries, like pretty much every female member of my family.

  1. Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?

She's my slave. Or rather, she's a very dutiful employee (cause slavery is a horrible thing) who shows up for work when I do. Though sometimes, she also calls in sick or insists on doing unscheduled overtime, when I don't have a whole lot of time for her.

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. Visit her on the web at or follow her on Twitter under @CoraBuhlert. You can buy her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance e-books, DriveThruFiction and XinXii or borrow them at Scribd.


  1. Cora, what a wonderful interview:) I have the extended versions of LOTR but we watch them at the end of every year...OTOH my husband is the huge Star Trek fan! I loved your answer about recycling. I had no idea that was a German thing. I cook and do yoga too:) Love the cover of Muse & Crises!

  2. Glad you liked the interview, Heidi. Also glad you like the cover for Muse & Crisis. The artwork is by an amazing digital artist known only as Setory.

    Germans are huge about recycling. In my community, every household currently has three separate bins for paper and cardboard, biological waste and regular trash respectively as well as plastic bags for recyclable packing waste (cans, tins, plastic packaging, etc...). They're all collected on different days, too, making the annual waste collection calendar an important document to have. Plus, there are public recycling bins for bottles and glass (often separating the glass according to colour into clear, brown and green) everywhere, bottle returns and recycling bins for batteries in many supermarkets, etc... It can be a bit of a nuissance at times, but it conserves resources and keeps the environment clean.