Hans Hiruschi is a well respected writer from Sweden, noted usually for writing LGBT fiction. Hans, however, is due to shortly release his first sci-fi, post-apocalyptic novel ‘Willem of the Tafel‘ via Beaten Track Publishing.
We recently had a lovely Skype chat with Hans to find out more about his upcoming book .
Can you tell us about ‘Willem of the Tafel’?
Willem is the tale of humanity after the “Great War” which was a consequence of mass migration in the wake of global climate changes. Or shall we say will be? This is a science fiction novel, playing out about five hundred years into the future, on a planet recovering from the war. Most humans died in that war, large parts of Earth destroyed. Some survived, around the equator, where conditions were improving more rapidly than elsewhere, and – inside the Table Mountain of Cape Town. There, underground, a society has developed which is very different than any other surviving human settlement, and they believe to be the only survivors of the war. That’s the “dystopic” premise of the book. It begins with a young man being exiled for a murder he didn’t commit. Once on the surface Willem discovers that the world has healed and that his people could once again live above ground. And the adventure begins.
Willem of the Tafel is an epic tale of survival, hope, second chances & undying love.
Short answer is: no.
What inspired you to write the book?
I barely remember. I had always wanted to write about Africa, and I’ve long been fascinated with Cape Town. Then we attended a dance performance here in town, a dystopic future on stage, and it got me thinking about writing a story about a world where humanity did not stop in time, did nothing to stop and reverse global warming and all the consequences thereof, such as losing land to the oceans, huge waves of migration and the risk of war in its wake. Willem begins five centuries into the future, four centuries after the Great War and tells a story of humanity as it exists then. How might a second chance look like…
What genre(s) would you classify the novel?
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of hours (months) now. It’s definitely Science Fiction, but it’s also a political thriller, it’s adventure and a travel epic.
This book marks a change in direction for your writing. What do you find most challenging about switching genres?
True, I never thought I’d write science fiction, I’ve been more of a contemporary writer, and I’m not sure I could do warp speed and star ships and all that stuff. But turns out that if you stick to storytelling, human emotions, challenges and our nag for getting ourselves in trouble, it really doesn’t matter whether the story plays out in our time, in the past or the future. The big challenge is of course shelf-time. Contemporary writing eventually becomes historic, but science fiction either becomes ridiculous (if our predictions are way off), or we’ll be the Nostradamus of the future, who knows.
In terms of writing there was subsequently no difference. The biggest difference in terms of work flow was that if felt slower, as I had to do so much more research. Just take an all out nuclear war for instance, there is no consensus on how many months, years, decades or centuries it would affect the earth, in terms of fallout, radioactive poisoning, nuclear winter etc. And there is, amazingly, little up to date research. I had to dig into papers that were from the fifties and sixties, a time when nuclear warheads were far more primitive than today, extrapolate, guess, and in the end make things up, as authors often have to.
The art of science fiction, as opposed to any other form of writing, is to make the incredible believable. That makes the research going into a book so extensive, because there is no definitive answer. You also don’t want to be completely off chart.
Who do you think will enjoy reading the book?
Luckily for me, my publisher did, and she decided to put it out there. One down, seven billion to go… I think this story, like all my books, will appeal to people who like to be mindfully entertained, who like to read a book where you don’t know what the next page will hold, where you don’t ever know what the ending will be until you actually read it. Willem, too, will throw people off on a couple of occasions. It’s a book for all ages, from teens to those who fought in the first world war.
When did you start writing books and why?
I’ve always been writing. Sure, there were many years where I didn’t or at least didn’t write fiction. I started to pursue writing as a serious thing in January 2013, so roughly two years ago, and I’ve since written five novels and put out some other stuff, too. I had left a very interesting gig just before Christmas 2012. My husband and I were pregnant at the time and our son was due in March. To find a new job in that time seemed impossible and with paternity leave waiting around the corner, I decided to use this involuntary sabbatical to pursue my passions. I’ve always been dreaming about writing a novel. And I did, in less than two weeks. After a week of catching my breath, I wrote another one and started a third before Sascha was born. After that, it just kept on going.
How has feedback from readers been so far?
Those who have had the opportunity to read Willem have been very positive. Here are just a couple of comments: “It’s very modern! It reminds me of all the great sci-fi books my pre-teen son loves to read (The Giver, The Hunger Games and Legend series…)”, “I love this story, Hans.”, “Awesome tale. Believable, touching and not too much in the way of enviroranting.”
I think I can definitely live with those comments! 🙂 And I’m sure readers will love it, too.
Which authors, dead or alive, inspire your writing?
The list would be long. Sometimes it’s the author of a cheesy romance novel that manages to capture an emotion in a particularly moving way, a witty conversation or a description of something. I definitely fall for details. Then there are the “great” storytellers out there, people like Shakespeare, Isherwood, Mann, Kafka, Salinger and many others whom I’ve read as a child and teen and who stuck with me to this day, incredible stories, vivid imagery and powerful messages.
When is your book available to purchase and from where?