Markus Heitz has been professionally publishing since 2002’s Das Zeichen des dunklen Gottes. While much of his work centers on dwarves – one of his best-known novels being 2003’s The Dwarves, which started a five-book saga – Heitz’s writings have also included dragons, vampires, werewolves, and parallel universes. And as a winner of Germany Fantasy Award, Heitz is seen by many as one of Germany’s most successful and talented fantasy authors. Wanting to learn more about Heitz and his DOORS trilogy (Waterstones, Amazon), I was able to interview him for ScifiPulse.
Yanes: Growing up, what were some stories you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Markus Heitz: There were so many books and stories! We had a small library in my hometown, and I guess I read almost every book in it – except for the romance novels. Not my cup of very black tea (with milk & brown sugar, thank you). I liked The Hobbit instantly, but also ghost stories and all kind of fantastic tales. So I changed slowly to the dark side and discovered Poe, Stoker, LeFanu, Lovecraft, Shelley and many others. I still like to read them, now as English originals, of course.
Yanes: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as a writer? Was there a moment this goal crystallized for you?
Heitz: As many other writers – from the beginning. No, honestly and seriously, writing is incredible! All you need is imagination and some words, and if assembled in the right way, you can build every world you ever want. There are no limits, without spending tons of money for special effects or CGI. What can be better? My mind is always evolving new story ideas, which want to be told. I was a P&P-roleplayer for years, which showed me even more worlds and possibilities. It’s all about storytelling. I am so glad that I have been able to focus on exactly this, and full time since 2004.
Yanes: You have an interesting background with many different jobs. How have these previous jobs helped you become a better writer?
Heitz: Well, not so many jobs, if I remember correctly, but they all played a part! Being a journalist for ten years taught me to write to the point and fast, without losing quality, having a feeling for stories and what to do with them. My Masters degree in History still brings me input for dozens of books, and I learned how to do research. And let’s not forget my roleplaying, many years as a gamemaster. In combination – it was the perfect preparation for my life as an author.
Yanes: Other than the Brothers Grimm, I don’t know a lot about literature and folklore from Germany. What are some classic German stories you wish were more popular globally?
Heitz: I recommend the classic stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann, which are filled with lots of dark fantasy and fairy tale elements. And the tales of Tieck, Hauff and Bechstein, who wrote literary fairy stories. It’s very Old School, of course.
Yanes: Your latest novels is the DOORS trilogy. What was the inspiration for this story?
Heitz: It was the simple thought and question: what if? Everyone knows it from books, movies and real life: a simple plan goes wrong – so why not rewind and try a different way? But will it really be better, or will it get even worst? And there was the additional idea, to give the good old book a new twist of experience: the readers decide which way the party will go. And again. And again. So there’s a little bit of interactivity, but not too much. They are still novels, not Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
Heitz: None – really, none, because: I am a plotter, a planner. Every book of mine is structured, from the plot to the characters and the setting – and particularly if you have a project like DOORS with three different worlds, storylines and different information you need to distribute. Without overview, you would be lost – and the readers would hate you for this.
Yanes: What scene or quote from any of the DOORS novels do you love the most?
Heitz: It’s in Colony, when the pseudo-occult guys sit in a train, a bunch of pretenders and fakers, making jokes about the Nazis, who believe in the super powers of occultism and esoteric. That was so much fun!
Yanes: Reflecting on your work developing DOORS, how do you think you improved as a writer?
Heitz: DOORS wasn’t so much different from my other novels. It was more a different kind of project, to work on three books at the same time. I’m improving with every book, because every story is a new one with new challenges. And of course I am still learning and looking for new territories to conquer. Except for . . . romance. Romance and me, well . . . it is complicated. You know this long before you see my status on Facebook!
Yanes: When people finish reading the DOORS trilogy, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
Heitz: First, choose wisely. Second, don’t open every door (there’s one exception: a Christmas Advent calendar!). Third, how would my life have been, if I did this or that? Fourth, am I living the right way, or should I find an exit door and step into a life that fits me better? It’s all about choice and decision.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Heitz: Right now, I am editing the second volume of AERA, because there are some mysteries to be solved. It will be published in Germany in spring 2022. But before, there are DWARVES, by Vraccas! The sixth volume comes out in fall 2021 in Germany. Did I mention that writing is fun, fun and so much fun? Good.
You can check out more of Nicholas Yanes Interviews and Features right here.