A while back, I reviewed Holly Müller’s highly impressive debut novel, My Own Dear Brother, which was published earlier this year by Bloomsbury Publishing. The novel depicts World War 2 but from a new perspective, whereby, instead of telling the story from the Jewish point of view, it tells it from the non-Jewish, Austrian point of view and “focuses on the treatment of disabled people under the Nazi regime, the treatment of women and girls at the hands of Russians occupying forces, the nature of complicity and culpability of the average citizen”. Following from that, I got the chance to speak to the author herself in-person, and unpick her brain about the ideas behind the novel, what made her write it, the research and the story behind it. We also spoke in-depth about the craft of writing, things such as writer’s block, writing strong female characters, Creative Writing courses and whatnot. Even if you haven’t read the novel or know anything about the author, I’d highly recommend reading the interview. I had a lot of fun doing it, not only because I really loved the novel, but because speaking to Holly, you knew you were speaking to someone who is quite a genius, and dedicated to the craft of writing. I loved her way of describing many of her processes and there is a lot to be taken from her responses to my questions for readers and writers both.
As always, the interview can be found on Wales Arts Review, but here’s the short prelude to it:
Holly Müller is a novelist, short story writer, and musician. She is half Austrian and half Welsh and lives in Cardiff. Her debut novel, My Own Dear Brother, a historical fiction set in post-war Austria, was published in February this year by Bloomsbury. She was also published in the Parthian Books’ anthology of new Welsh fiction Rarebit and the Seren Books’ 2015 anthology New Welsh Short Stories. She has written for The Independent, The Guardian, and performed her work at various literary events including Hay Literature Festival 2014, and Cheltenham Literature Festival 2015. Holly is also the singer, lyricist and violinist in the band Hail! The Planeswho have appeared at various UK music festivals.
After reviewing My Own Dear Brother earlier this month, I interviewed Müller in a very busy and loud café in Cardiff. This is a shortened and edited version of the 2-hour long interview in which Holly and I got carried away talking about the research and the writing of My Own Dear Brother, feminism, writer’s block, creative writing courses, and the processes of being published.