Stephan Abarbanell

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 1st March 2017
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Stephan always liked writing, and especially loved telling his children stories.

“I was always starting books – I   was the king of great beginnings – but I could never finish a one. There was always the pretext of my fulltime job and the children, and I would put the manuscript away after 60 or 70 pages. Then I realised the kids had grown up, so if I wanted to write a novel, the time had come.”

He found a press clipping about a famous Jewish scientist, and thought he could spin a story around him.

“I wrote about him for two years, then realised I needed an outside voice, and found Lilya. Once she became the protagonist it was easy.” 

Who is Stephan Abarbanell 

Date of birth: 1957 in Brunswick, but grew up in Hamburg.

Education:  Secondary school in Hamburg. University in Hamburg, Tubingen and Berkeley, USA: Protestant theology and general rhetoric.

Home:  Potsdam

Family: Wife Bettina, a literary translator; a daughter of 26, sons of 25 and 22.

The Day Job: Head of cultural department for a public regional TV and radio, responsible for the cultural affairs of the region, and some nationwide programmes.

Interests:  Classical music. “I’m always searching for new interpretations of standard works.”

Favourite Writers: William Faulkner; Thomas Woolf; Ross Thomas; Thomas Mann.

Second Novel: “I’m in the process, about half way through.”

Top Tip: “Don’t think about it, do it. You have to work on the text 2 to 3 times a week. It doesn’t matter what you do; you can read it, edit it, or write it, but you have to deal with the text constantly.”

Twitter: @abarbanell

The Debut: Displaced. John Murray: €15.83  Kindle: €13.89. 

It’s 1946 in Jerusalem, and Elias Lind refuses to accept that his brother, a scientist, died in a concentration camp. He persuades Lilya, a Jewish resistance fighter to search for him. As she traverses the devastation of post-war Europe, she realises someone else is in pursuit.

“There’s not been much written about 1946 – there’s a gap between the war and the cold war of the sixties. I didn’t know much about the period, and thought writing about that time would be interesting.”

The Verdict: A character based thriller set amongst the dispossessed. Well researched and engrossing.

 Published in The Irish Examiner on 25th March

© Sue Leonard. 2017

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