In 1946, George Orwell articulated the reasons why he put pen to paper in an essay entitled Why I Write.
In this Web series, authors talk about their literary habits and reading preferences,
and examine Orwell's question that lies at the heart of being an author—why they write.

Stefan Schomann

Last Refuge in Shanghai


Stefan Schomann’s debut book Letzte Zuflucht Schanghai (Last Refuge in Shanghai) tells the true love story between a poor Austrian refugee and a young lady from Ningbo.


Why I write
I don’t know anything else.


Do you write every day? If so, how many hours?
Let‘s say every second day, between one and four hours of actual writing.


Worst source of distraction?
My own inability to focus on one task.


Best source of inspiration?
Good writing.


How often do you get writers’ block / doubt your own ability?
I have constant doubts, but only occasionally suffer from writers‘ block. Moments of perfect flow are rare though, about as rare as a rainbow.


Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
There used to be a handful of writers on whose latest works I would not miss out. But sadly, I fell behind. The more I find myself involved in writing, the less I read. At least I don‘t read what I want to read, but what I have to read. Research material, specialized books, all kinds of sources. Currently, I am far beyond the pleasure principle, but try to find my way back.


Favorite Chinese writer?
Lin Yutang.


Best book about China?
It has not been written yet.


Favorite book?
What a cruel, what an impossible question! When I was 16 years old, I had to stay in a hospital for some time. I devoured Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain), that itself takes place in a sanatorium. When I had to extend my stay in hospital and had no other book at hand, I read its 700 pages a second time. That was probably the most passionate reading experience I ever had. Thanks to your questionnaire I found out that I share another adoration with Lynn Pan: Blumen im Schnee (The Snow of Yesteryear) by Gregor von Rezzori who has been a friend.


Favorite writer?
Can you point out your favorite tree in a forest? I have started a list – Kafka, Nabokov, Updike, Garcia Marquez, Büchner, Brecht… but while you are reading this, I am still adding to it.


The book you should have read but haven’t?
Never finished Proust. Must have lost time; still hope to regain it. Some of the great Russian novels are also patiently waiting for me.


You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
I was lucky.


How did you get started writing?
It gradually evolved, mainly into journalistic work. I never took it all too serious, always thought that the best is yet to come. In a way, you constantly get started, you are never sufficiently armed for the coming engagements.


Does writing change anything?
Your eye-sight deteriorates.


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Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by JFK Miller No Comments