Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview with Cora Buhlert, author of History Lesson and The Silencer


1. Hello, and welcome to my blog! So what inspired you to take the plunge into the world of publishing?

I've been writing since my teens and started selling stories to magazines while I was at university. So I had a lot of backlist stories, both published and unpublished, gathering dust on my harddrive by the time electronic self-publishing became a viable path.
I'd heard about early indie publishing success stories like Joe Konrath or Amanda Hocking, but what finally persuaded me to give indie publishing a try were the blogs of Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. So I put up some backlist short stories and found that I really enjoyed the process.

2. Tell me about your book.

I just had a double release, that is two new books published simultaneously. History Lesson is a new novelette in my Shattered Empire space opera series. The title says it all, since History Lesson offers a bit of characterisation and a lot of worldbuilding background about the history of the Fifth Human Empire, borrowed quite liberally from the actual history of postwar West Germany with a dash of sex and a lot of murder added. I'm actually wondering whether anybody will notice the parallels.
My second new release Mean Streets and Dead Alleys is the latest adventure of Richard Blakemore, a 1930s pulp writer who sometimes dresses up as his own character, the masked vigilante known only as the Silencer, to fight crime in Depression era New York. In Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, the Silencer is on his way home after a long night of crimefighting, when he chances to witness three thugs stalking a young woman.

3. I see you write in multiple genres. What led you to writing in such various styles, and is there a particular genre you feel closest to?

I read a lot of different genres. And since we're mostly drawn to write what we read, it's only natural that I also write in a lot of different genres. Besides, I'd get bored very quickly, if I had to stick to one genre or even subgenre only.
As for whether there is a genre I feel particularly close to, science fiction has always been my first love.

4. Who is the biggest influence on your writing?

That's difficult to answer, because I believe that everything we read, watch or do influences our writing, sometimes in quite unexpected ways. Sometimes the influences are quite obvious, e.g. the Silencer series is clearly influenced by the pulp heroes of the 1930s like the Spider or the Shadow who were the ancestors of today's superheroes, while the Shattered Empire series is the result of consuming way too many space operas in my formative years. Other influences are more obscure, e.g. my fantasy story Cartoony Justice is an homage to a cartoon program I loved as a kid, while the crime shorts collected in Murder in the Family were influenced by the short crime stories that used to be ubiquitous in the backpages of German magazines.

5. What do you do when you're not writing?

I'm a professional freelance translator, specializing in technical as well as business and legal documents. Occasionally, I also teach English and linguistics at a local college.

6. Can we expect any upcoming stories from you?

Of course you can. I'm currently editing the next Shattered Empire story, a novella called Debts to Pay, which features mercenary turned rebel Carlotta Valdez on a solo mission. Up afterwards is Shot at Dawn, another Shattered Empire story, which finds Ethan and Holly in deep trouble.
Coming later this year are Wed on the Scaffold, a historical romance set in 16th century Germany, and a weird western called The Ghost of the Hanging Tree. Finally, I've also got short stories in two upcoming anthologies.

7. You have published several stories, in multiple languages. Any advice for beginning writers out there?

Just the usual. Read a lot, write a lot and stay patient, because writing success takes time. You don't actually have to write in your first language – I don't, cause my German language stories are all translations – but you need a thorough grasp of the vocabulary and grammar of whatever language you choose to write in.

Off-beat questions

1. You've written a lot of stories about pirates and the sea. If you could go back in time and were offered the chance to be a pirate for a day, would you?
I was born in a harbour city and come from a long line of shipbuilders and sea captains, hence my affinity for nautical themes. However, all of my seafaring ancestors stayed on the right side of the law, at least as far as I can tell.
Would I actually want to be a pirate? Not really. First of all, because old time sailing ships were not very comfortable places and I rather like indoor plumbing, fresh food and sleeping in a bed rather than a hammock.
Secondly, pirates tended to have rather short lives. In the Middle Ages, there was a lot of piracy in the North Sea and the Baltic sea. So the merchant cities of the Hanseatic League cracked down hard on piracy and tended to chop off the heads of any pirates they caught, nail them onto posts and display them by the waterside to deter others. In my hometown of Bremen as well as in Hamburg, another North German harbour city, they occasionally dredge up the skulls of executed medieval pirates from the river. They make for rather grisly museum exhibits.
We even have our own legendary outlaw, the pirate Klaus Störtebecker, a Robin Hood like figure who robbed the ships of the rich Hanseatic League to share the spoils with the poor. In the town of Verden some 50 kilometers from where I live local merchants still hand out free salted herrings to the people in memory of Klaus Störtebecker more than 600 years after his death. For eventually, Störtebecker was caught, tried and sentenced to death by the magistrate of the city of Hamburg. However, before his execution, Störtebecker requested that if his body managed to walked past some of his crewmates, after he had been beheaded, those crewmates should be pardoned. His wish was granted, Störtebecker had his head cut off and his headless body managed to walk past his entire crew, so they were all set free.
It's a great story, though probably not entirely accurate. Like I said above, if you grow up with stories like these, you can't help but be influenced by them. Nonetheless, I wouldn't actually want to be a participant, since I still need my head.

2. You also write science fiction. What would you do if you actually saw a UFO?

I went through something of a UFO phase in my early teens, where I was fascinated by UFOs and wanted nothing more than to actually see one. And if the aliens were to abduct me or rather invite me to their planet, I would have been more than happy to go along.
This is reflected in my fiction, since all of my UFO stories involve children or teenagers – usually kids who are lonely and a bit alienated - having a close encounter.
Of course, if I'd ever actually seen a UFO, I'd probably have wet my pants with terror.

History Lesson

The nights are long on the rebel world of Pyrs, most of the man and women hiding out there have demons that haunt them and everybody deals with those demons in their very own way.
For Holly di Marco and Ethan Summerton, two of the more than two thousand rebel fighters on Pyrs, the best way of staving of the nightmares is arguing about politics, eating sweets and getting drunk, very drunk.
But one long night of arguing about politics reveals some unexpected truths about the history of the Fifth Human Empire… and also about Holly and Ethan.

The Silencer: Mean Streets and Dead Alleys

Wounded and weary after a long night of crimefighting, all Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the Silencer wants is to go home. But then he spots a young woman being stalked by three thugs, so the Silencer has to jump into the fray once more. However, when the Silencer follows the woman and her pursuers into a dark alley, he finds far more than he bargained for…

 Author Bio:

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.

Author Central:


  1. Replies
    1. No problem! Thanks so much for allowing me the opporunity to interview you!

  2. What an interesting interview. I'm not really into science fiction all that much but I do find some things about it to be very interesting :) Awesome interview!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

    1. Yeah, I'm very picky with science fiction myself, though I do find some works to be great :)

  3. This was interesting. I wonder how much crossover audience Cora has between the different genres. I find it interesting that she uses her name for all her books as opposed to using different pen names for different genres.
    Also great stuff about the pirates!

    1. Yes, I wonder that myself. Pen names are a tricky subject; you get mixed answers on whether or not to use them. I like writing in different genres as well, so it's a subject that interests me.
      And yeah, who doesn't like pirates?