Crowdfunding my lives

In 2013/14, I crowdfunded a collection of my stories in German. Eberhard Hain, my first colleague at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Geneva 1973/74), (see previous blogpost) had translated my stories and had given me his rendering thereof on a floppy disc after the Wall had come down. 

I wanted to have an “editor”, a Lektorat, so when the opportunity arose to find 100 fans, number that would allow my stories to proceed to publication and appear as a German-language publication, I took up the challenge. I was lucky to get the support of many of my colleagues at the University of Vienna and so Geflimmer der Vergangenheit was born.

The cover was a drawing of Vienna´s Hundertwasserhaus by my artist friend, Sharon Ratheiser. That drawing had been used as the cover of my first collection, The Past Present (IUMIX, 200/2001), and was used again recently as the cover of my Collected Stories (Flo Do Books, 2021). When the book was published, I had a wonderful reading at Café Fichtl in Floridsdorf. 

That café, sadly, is no more, but the memories remain.

When my fictional memoir, All the Beautiful Liars was published by Lightning Books, UK, in 2021, I hoped to see a German translation since much of the story deals with my coming to terms with the actions or lack thereof of family members, including involvement in the “Zorko affair”, an embezzlement scandal of the 50s involving persons in high political places – plus ça change, in Austria, it seems. 

Although the book was well received, there was apparently not enough interest to warrant a translation into German. At the 2021 Vienna Book Fair I even dropped off a copy of the book at the booth of a publisher whose street address appears in the story – a good marketing ploy to my mind at the time – but to no avail. A writer friend had suggested his German publisher, but when I contacted them, I was told that they only dealt via agents.

In the meantime, a translator friend had read the book and loved it. She was prepared to translate it. Also, despite still being in English, the book was reviewed in a new German-language platform, Litrobona, and I was interviewed about it.

That´s when I thought of crowdfunding. I was pleased with the German-language crowdfunding group Startnext and submitted my project to them.

I only have eight days to go to achieve the amount I need, and I can extend for another 30 days, but something else has come up. 

Two things: I´m uncomfortable with marketing and am often put off buying books until a certain hype dies down, and secondly, at this time where people are dying, families are fleeing, it just doesn´t seem right to be asking strangers to donate to what to some may look like a linguistic ego trip. I am extremely grateful to all those who supported the venture and pleasantly surprised by the interest shown, especially from unexpected quarters.

Interestingly, the exercise has also shown me where I belong, or not, in a writing community, and this makes it easier for me to strike out on my own, doing what I want to do, how I want to do it.

Yes, there will be a translation, and it will be properly remunerated. My dream translator will have her name on the cover. My imprint, Flo Do Books, will issue the German version of All the Beautiful Liars, and I will live happily ever after and continue to write, for the time being at least, doing it all my way.