Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thorsten Nesch Interview - I am You am I

Photo Content from Thorsten Nesch

Thorsten Nesch is an award-winning German YA author. His first novel was nominated for Best German Debut. He has attended 1,500 readings at schools and in bookstores across Europe, and been on two tours on cruise ships. In 2017 he wrote and directed Derailed, a feature movie based on his novel. He lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, with his wife and children.

Greatest thing you learned at school?

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It is a projection screen for our fears and feelings and areas you want to know more about (maybe without knowing).

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
When a Teenager tells me that my novels was the first he or she read to the end.

Tell us your latest news.
I received the Literary Arts grant by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for writing my dystopian novel.

Can you tell us when you started, I AM YOU AM I, how that came about?
I finished another novel where the female protagonist dressed and acted as a guy. This reminded me of body switch stories. Since they were done plenty in movie and literature, I researched and I found none that would live up to the humour I saw in I AM YOU AM I. When I got the idea “But what if one of them doesn’t want to change back” I knew I had to write it.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Beyond gender identity, the main aspect is the social background and empathy, how others feel, to reflect on your behaviour, and try to be in somebody else’s shoes.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
It was the entire ensemble! Really, even the parents of the protagonists, or the girl friend of Frank’s father, the boxing coach, or the homeless guy …

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Elizabeth is a character in THE CRUISE WITH THE ASHES OF MY DAMN FATHER. (not published in English yet, read in schools in Germany and other countries). In that novel she even phones Frank, they are both 2 years older.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
None. Honestly. Since I was a full time author at the time. My biggest distraction or “writers block” is a job. Like any job that is not writing/storytelling.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Witness the birth of a child.

Best date you've ever had?
Youth hostel in Victoria, BC, there was young woman reading a book, and we started talking, afterwards we went out for a concert, then we kissed under the night sky while the seagulls were circling over us. We married a year later. Still married.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Too long ago.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
A shelf full of boxes blocking a huge window with a view over the ocean.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
I lived for a few weeks in an old tiny farm house in Poland to write a novel. No phone, no electricity, no running water. I had a night of nightmares that were more than real, physically very exhausting, partially with wide open eyes, which lead me to leave as early as possible afterwards. Never before or after I experienced anything alike.

If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?
I made brunch for the family, taught our oldest driving a car, showed my understanding and my respect for a stranger that really is in trouble, worked on my novel, had a nice conversation with my wife and our youngest (seperatly), will make honey garlic chicken for dinner with root beer floats as dessert, then work on a song and have a beer. Bed time reading for our youngest, then some research for the dystopian novel. Life is good.

First Heartbreak?
Terrible. My 1st girl friend dumped me after 3 years (what is like married when you’re young, right!?)—on the phone—while I was travelling Ireland—alone—away from friends and family—in Cork—standing in a phone booth next to a fish & chipper...

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Back to Poland and the dreams. Because I also had 12 nights of phenomenal positive, vivid, just as physically exhausting dreams. And again, never before or after I experienced anything alike. I am not esoteric, but there is more in our lives.

  • During my readings at schools kids laughed so hard they had to ran to the washroom.
  • The novel I laughed the most while writing it.
  • Pure writing time was 220 hours. (yes I am a nerd, I counted my time)
  • With 2 alternating 1st person narrators writing was an amazing psychological challenge for me
  • The German version is read in schools from Denmark to Italy.
  • Frank’s problem with his running nose, my best childhood friend had
  • Like Frank’s father, I am a big Tom Waits fan
  • The German version takes place in my hometown, the English version in Vancouver
  • A catholic school wanted to censor my reading, I declined friendly, and I read it my way.
  • By accident (long story) I read this novel for a group of pensioners between 74 and 87 years of age—and we had a blast! One of the most memorable readings of mine. Good Young Adult fiction speaks to everybody, no matter what age. (I also got tons of emails from parents reading I AM YOU AM I after they saw their kids crying laughing).
Writing Behind the Scenes
From idea to starting a novel, it can take me between 2 and 15 years. During that time I think about the narration voice, characters, locations etc. and plan the novel with pencil on a timeline that fits on 1 letter page, never more, often carrying it around with me, until I see and hear the novel and I know the path.

Currently I document publicly on my HOMEPAGE the writing of my dystopian novel in weekly posts (text, photo, audio, video).

She comes from a rich family in Vancouver and enjoys horse back riding, he lives on the wrong side of town and calls boxing his hobby. Two very different teenagers changing their bodies accidentally and have to live the life of the other. The funniest body switch comedy you will read.

You can purchase I am You am I at the following Retailer Below:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. "As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?" An Egyptologist.

  2. As a child I wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

  3. I had no idea what I wanted to do.

  4. At one point, I thought I wanted to be a choreographer. I couldn’t dance then and still can’t!

  5. I wanted to be a famous singer when I was little.

  6. I always wanted to be a nurse, and that is exactly what I did. That led to a varied career, from the US Navy to various clinical experiences to administration with the Indian Health Service.