Interview with Ivan Ertlov, Author of Generation 23

23 Feb 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Generation 23?

“Generation 23” is my first book published in (Australian) English, my first try to reach a more international audience. After 15 novels published in German, I chose carefully which one to translate first. Generation 23 was chosen because it is one of my very few serious works, not driven by humor but by mystery and dystopian storytelling. You could call it a Science Fiction novel, but it is rather a murder mystery set in the vastness of space. Earth is destroyed, humanity survived on giant generation ships traveling to new systems, a journey taking hundreds, if not thousands of years. How does society, how do social and humanitarian principles survive such a long isolation? That was one of the main questions I wanted to answer, wrapped up in a murder/conspiracy investigation.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

When I was 9 years old, my uncle – a public servant in rural Australia – had to liquidate a library. Instead of bringing the books to the recycling depot, he hired a truck and drove them to my home, where my father had a smaller, empty hose next to ours which became our private library. I grew up reading hundreds and thousands of books, many of them not suitable for my age back then. But this excessive reading over many years triggered my desire to write.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons – simply the best SF ever written.
VALIS by Philip K. Dick – the best way to question reality
Das Kapital by Karl Marx – unlike the manifesto, this one is a deep, critical analysis of the shifts in society and economy back then.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe – You can’t understand the essence of  Australia without reading Pascoe. He is a genius.
The Worldwar tetralogy by Harry Turtledove – a lesson in alternate history if there ever was one

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

H. P. Lovecraft, just to find out if he was really the blatant racist and misanthrope many of my peers believe him to have been.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing is the writing of chapters defining for my characters, the passages in which their true self is revealed. Usually, I have the general plot, an idea what the situation will be like after such a critical chapter, but the journey is the one of my protagonists, I just accompany them and write about it.

What is a typical day like for you?

Usually, I get up around 7 AM, have a coffee, write an hour or two, begin my day job work and end that one around 6 PM. Then I do some sports and meditation before back to writing and editing. On weekends and holidays, the day job work is substituted by motorbike rides, hiking in the Blue Mountains – or more writing and editing.

What scene from Generation 23 was your favorite to write?

That’s hard to answer without spoilers. My favorite scene is actually the only erotic encounter in the book, very close to being explicit – not because of the steamy content and dirty fantasies, but because it is essential to solve one of the mysteries.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“Don’t be a dick.” – you can boil the message of the New Testament, the Imperative of Kant, the definition of Freedom by Sir Karl Popper down to that single line. “Don’t be a dick.”

Ivan Ertlov is the author of the new book Generation 23

Connect with Ivan Ertlov

Author Site

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