a familiar author in the United States, but we'd
love to get to know more about you, so, why don't
we start with how you became a writer?
I didn't start out as a writer,
of course. For a time I worked as an industrial
clerk. When I started to write novels I found
out that the best time for me to work was at night
– so I worked as a night watchman for a
time while writing my first stories. Since a few
years ago my success allowed me to be "just"
a writer. I still work at night after the kids
have gone to bed and the house has become quiet.
I was shocked
at the number of books you've written. Could you
tell us how you approach writing one?
Hohlbein in front of
the books he wrote.
*laughs* Yes, it surprises me all
the time when I’m being confronted with
it, too. There are over 160 books to date wearing
my name or an alias from earlier days. There is
a number of ways I start a book. Sometimes it’s
a meeting with friends where we start a plot out
of nowhere. Then again the idea comes from a conversation
with my wife and co-writer Heike. It happens during
the holidays abroad or while I’m driving
somewhere. I drove by an old monastery in the
Taunus (mid Germany) – and while I was driving
on, a story formed in
my head. Most of the time I do not know what the
next chapter will bring and I often am surprised
of the outcome. I do not write a storyline before
writing the book because I feel it narrows the
ways a story can develop.
of story do you prefer writing, i.e. Fantasy,
Adventure, etc., and why?
Hohlbein in front of
an Aztec pyramid.
Most of all I like the fantastic.
It happens everywhere, in far away lands or right
in front of our eyes. Sure, the "heroes"
in my books always manage to get into really weird
situations but I like it when people say about
my novels that it "just could have happened
to everyone". Fantasy is an interesting genre,
too, but there is so much really good fantasy
in the stores right now, I don’t think my
stories are in any way special. During the last
years I have written more and more mystery, "real
fantasy", historic novels and a bit of horror.
All of it fantastic and sometimes far out –
that’s what I like.
your writing experience into the world of Indiana
That’s a nice way of putting
it. As a matter of fact the Goldmann Publishing
House approached me and asked me for it. They
had the name – and needed some stories.
But as soon as I had started writing I was caught
up in the action and world of Indy.
was Indiana Jones' creator, George Lucas involved
with what you were writing?
Not at all.
from what I have been able to read of your work
related to Indiana Jones, that you didn't have
a set "timeline" in which to follow.
Is this true and if so, can you share with us
The timeframe for the stories, the
1920's - 1940's, have already been set by the
movies which show Indiana as a grown archaeologist.
So I moved within this time. One of my novels
plays a little out of line, as "Indiana Jones
und die Gefiederte Schlange" is set in 1929.
As for the rest of my novels, 8 altogether, play
between 1938 and 1944.
given limitations on what you could write about?
If so, can you give us an example?
Jones and the
Feathered Snake novel.
There is just one thing I do remember
and it’s more an "informal reprimand"
than a limitation: The lecturer called me one
day and told me I couldn’t use a specific
insulting word for the Chinese ("slit eye").
So they replaced it with another... ("Reisfresser")
I don’t think there was any sense to it.
But limitations? No.
of response did your books receive on the open
market and why are they limited to sales only
in Europe and not on the shelves in countries
like the United States?
Most of the IJ books I wrote are
out of stock and somewhat valuable to fans I've
been told. None of my books have been translated
into English so far… none at all. Maybe
it had something to do with the Publishing houses,
I honestly don’t know.
the cover art for you Indiana Jones novels and
did you have some say in what the covers would
That also was solely the work and
decision of Goldmann. I had no saying in it. Mostly
I saw the cover for the first time when they sent
me a copy of the book. But since the pictures
reflect the novel’s story or some detail
of it I’m quite happy with it.
Which was your favorite Indiana Jones film and
do you think anyone else could have played the
main character if Harrison Ford had been unable
Genghis Khan's Sword.
Harrison Ford is and has been a
very good Indiana Jones. Probably if another actor
had grown into the role like Ford has he would
have been an equally good Indy. But since the
directors seemed to be so happy with him it was
only natural they made the role as much "Ford"
as possible. For example the scar from the whip
– it’s Ford’s scar but he has
had it from the first movie and since it is explained
where he got it in the third movie it is absolutely
plausible to everyone and it belongs to Indiana
Jones just like the whip and the Fedora. My favorite
Indy movie is "Indiana Jones and the Last
Crusade" because to my mind it is the funniest
and most entertaining of all of them.
Now that a
fourth Indiana Jones film is in pre-production,
what are your views about a new Indy film and
would you be willing to write the film adaptation?
Actually I have never thought about
that. Since my stories are all well contained
in itself it surely would be possible. But I’m
afraid that my adventures lack the special effects
it would take to make this movie a success.
on getting your works translated into English?
No, unfortunately not. They have
been translated into most European languages:
Russian, French, Spanish… but the English
speaking market is in my opinion, to well fed
for British or American Publishers to take the
risk of publishing a writer completely unknown
in the US or Great Britain.
do you have any plans for the future and are you
currently working on anything new?
Jones and the
Lost People novel.
I am always working on something
new… there are a few books I am writing
direct or indirect sequels to, two children’s
books I wrote with my wife are published soon
and currently a huge project around one of an
earlier books of mine and Heike, called "The
Greif" is taking shape. So far an audiobook
and a music version "inspired by" so
to speak, have been released, including famous
German rock and pop artists. At the end of this
year or in the beginning of 2004 the music and
parts from the story will be taken to the stage.
The website for each and every detail regarding
this fantasy media event is www.dergreif.de.
Although the site is in German you're all welcome
to look around and probably leave a footprint
in the guest book - the webmaster will be happy
about international visitors. And then there is
of course my official website www.hohlbein.de
with all the information about all my books and