I wrote the following lines for an interview for “Die Zeilenflüsterin” on Facebook. The task was to write a personal story that might interest my readers. I decided to share how I started writing.
I was born in Romania in 1986 and moved to Germany when I was four years old, after the Wall fell. I grew up like the other children, but with small differences in tradition, food and a different relationship with friends and family. In my eyes, my family had a closer connection than those of the other children. To me, the clannishness seemed stronger. We helped and supported the others unasked. In my opinion, despite my background, I was German and also Bavarian, since I was educated in German, my ancestors came from Germany and I speak the northern Swabian dialect – sounds a bit like “Augschburg” instead of “Augsburg”.
In elementary school, when asked what I wanted to become, I answered unusual. The others wanted to be a fireman, police officer or whatever their Dad did. I wanted to be an author and write books. I still can remember a fourth-grade essay I wrote about fishing, although I had never been. Since I was reading the Bert-books by Anders Jacobsson and Sören Olsson at that time, my essay drifted into the style of the writers. This was anything but required and for once, I got a bad mark. So, I decided, I wanted to read as little as possible, because otherwise I would write like the others. I’ve kept that up to date and read only a few books. As an author, this may sound unusual, but to me, this was the right way.
Instead of reading, I started rhyming in early years. No matter what new words I heard, I sought appropriate rhymes, tried to arrange them in my mind and build mnemonics. I have always been very interested in the lyrics of various artists and wanted to know what they wanted to express. I liked ambiguity and metaphors. The profounder a text was, the more it appealed to me. In my opinion, it is an art to talk about one thing and yet hide and communicate something else between the lines.
I tried to write for the first time at the age of 16 – in secret, only for me. However, the outcome was awful and I burned it shortly after writing. When I started keeping a diary, I thought this was stupid after a few days. I wanted to write down other things, but I did not know what exactly I meant. It was not my story. My story was and is something, that only I experience and that I like to tell, instead of wrapping it in a book. So I gave up on writing.
Then, I followed an “ordinary” German-career. I completed an industrial mechanic training and worked as a CNC-machine-operator. The work was a profession, but I was searching for my calling. After a few years, I pressed for change and enrolled in a training as a mechanical engineer. Since I was much too late with the registration, I only had a place left in Thuringia, about 300 km from home. Without thinking too much, I agreed and spent two years in Gera, which above all else awakened the travel urge in me. Prior, I had rarely spent time alone and barely got out of my adopted home country Bavaria. When I was an engineer, I wanted to travel and got work that allowed me to do projects around the world. I got to know people from all over the globe and noticed how much I like to live out of my suitcase.
After some years, I pushed for a way to get away from project work and to develop myself. Since I always wanted to help people, I was looking for work in the medical sector. I wanted to do something to heal others and give them a better or longer life, even if I was just a small cog in this huge medical-machine.
At this time I also met my partner Anna-Theresa, who moved in with me two weeks after we became a couple. Since then, we sometimes spend months together, 24/7 without a loud word. Since she is just as crazy about traveling as I am, after about a year together, we decided to work in South Africa and emigrate. Said and done. Luckily, just after the month of trial work in London, our working relationship went downhill, and we were left empty-handed. Apartment, car and furniture were sold, most utensils given away – we still had two suitcases and money in the bank-account. Others would probably have gone crazy – we booked a one-way ticket to Morocco (you’ll find some articles on my blog. My favorite: Chefchaouen.)
We traveled through the kingdom for seven weeks and experienced countless things, that changed me, like all my travels. Due to the misfortune caused by the company, I decided that I only wanted to work for myself and started to write my first novel “Midnight Sun” in German. I was thirty back then and had been thinking about the book for years, but never had the courage to put my thoughts on paper. Since I still had hardly read any other books, after countless reworks, corrections and improvements, an unusual book came to light. It deals with my former view of the universe and is a novel, that I would have wanted to read when I was 20-24 years old. We then spent the summer in Germany and flew to South America to escape the winter.
Then, we spent months in Ecuador (away from tourists, rainwater for showering and drinking, without a fridge), Puerto Rico (after the hurricane, a unique experience) and some Caribbean islands as well as Florida and finally Spain. In Ecuador, I started translating my first novel into English. That was the only logical action to me, as I thought, that translating would be far easier than writing something new and I would massively increase my audience. It took till the summer to finish “Midnight Sun”.
While I was learning English on a literate level (I still do), Theresa and I decided that we wanted to do a book for children. Inspired by the Caribbean island “St. Kitts and Nevis” our character Nevis emerged – the caterpillar that is stuck in his cocoon. I made up a story, Theresa illustrated it and I rhymed the tale of the unfortunate caterpillar, constantly waiting for something to happen to make him happy, rather than just being happy. In this book, I have been able to apply my above-mentioned rhyming and wrote something I would have wanted to read at the age of about 7 years. The book looks like a children’s book, but is also suitable for adults who like poetry and beautiful stories. The illustrations just gives the look, as if it was only for children.
This book got into the hands of the person responsible for urban renewal of the city of Ludwigshafen am Rhein . They asked me, if I could write a stage play in the universe of the caterpillar Nevis. That’s how the German play “Nevis und der Müll (Nevis and the garbage)” came into existence – it is about tidiness and explains children and adults in an easy way that their actions have an impact on the community. However, the premiere has been postponed and will not be realized until 2020.
Since the story of the stage play was very well-received, another book was requested to support the consciousness work of the city. The result was “Nevis vom Pfalzgrafenplatz“. In this book, the insect school of Nevis hikes through Ludwigshafen and introduces schools, squares and buildings. This happens in teamwork and is intended to explain that together everybody can achieve more. In addition, the book is directed against violence and pro recycling.
By working on my next novel and a new illustrated book with my partner, while writing the play, I realized how easy it is for me to work on several projects simultaneously. Since I also have a lot more ideas than Theresa can illustrate, I started to search for artists.
Due to the experiences on my travels, I can very easily approach strangers and like to start a conversation, write a message to strangers, and so on. This used to be unthinkable for me. I now work with various artists on different books. I design the story, they bring the pictures to paper – always with the aim of creating a book that both are proud to have their name on the cover.
Meanwhile, I have illustrators in a few places across the globe, with whom I realize various projects. While I’m still working on my next novel “Moonlight”, while writing a guide about life and writing the story for a comic, that points to environmental destruction and racism with an extremely dark sense of humor.
Here is a short overview of the illustrated books I am currently working on:
“Sarya” tells about the connection to nature, represented by a girl in Africa. She grows up with two female lions and builds an indescribable bond with the animals. They experience an adventure to save Sarya´s mother.
“Orla Octopus” deals with the story of an octopus, which was driven away from her mother while still in the egg. Since she does not know who or what she is, she searches for her place in the ocean. She constantly adapts to other creatures, but is never really satisfied.
“Painting Black” is directed against racism. The crayons refuse to cooperate with the lead-pencil, as it is colorless. Actually, they need him, because he can paint the most beautiful sketches and the crayons were created to color them.
“Circle and Rectangle” describes the unusual love story of a circle and a rectangle. They live in a world with only basic forms and primary colors. The book is made of construction-paper and looks extraordinary, almost abstract.
“The Dog Detectives” is (for now) German only and aimed at detectives and those who want to become one. It is a combination of sticker book and scavenger hunt, in which two children search for their runaway dog. The story is completed by the reader with stickers.
In addition, I have put some ideas on my homepage www.C-L-LUDWIG.com. I am always searching for suitable illustrators. You will also find a blog about my travels, music, short stories and other things I enjoy.
I chose to tell this story to show readers, that you should follow your dreams, better sooner than too late. It took me many years to do so, but it was not until I started that my life became fun. That’s exactly what I want to express in my books: Life is beautiful, but you have to recognize the beauty. My books are written to support this.