Sorry for most of my website being in German. Here is a short summary. I was born in Hamburg and grew up in Lübeck, and after school I went abroad for a while. Then the Wall came down and I settled down in Berlin to study English, French, and Italian literature.
I wrote my first short story at the age of 23, because I missed my bus stop while reading Shirley Jackson’s „The Lottery“. To make people forget everything, and to make them remember you forever, with less than 4,000 words, that’s what I wanted, too. Until today I’m extremely fond of writing short stories, yet every couple of years an idea for a longer piece comes up.
This year, my German debut novel will be published by Songdog, Vienna. My first short story collection in English will come out at Bridgehouse Publishing. Most of the stories have been published before, in all kinds of magazines and anthologies, and here you can already read some of them.
I studied and graduated at Sierra Nevada College because as you might know the US have a long tradition in teaching creative writing. I wanted to learn from writers and poets whom I admire. Alexi Zentner, Gayle Brandeis, Randa Jarrar, Josh Weil, Benjamin Percy, Mike McCormack, Tim Hernandez, Ilyse Kusnetz, Patricia Smith, Gailmarie Pahmeier. Laura Wetherington, Suzanne Roberts, Téa Obreht, and Laura McCullough didn’t only give me writing lessons, they helped me to cope better with living my life of a writer. And Steve Woodward from Graywolf Press, mentor of my last semester, taught me to become my own editor.
In 2009, I introduced creative writing at my school and have been teaching it ever since. There are already two anthologies with the beautiful stories and poems of my pupils. I also give private lessons, for individuals and groups, short- and long-term. If you happen to be in Berlin in November, 2018, you can join me at Volkshochschule Mitte for my weekend course in English THE CREATIVE WRITING STARTER KIT.
My German book on craft was published in May 2017. I wrote it because I wanted to give writers here, who can’t afford to study in the US and/or don’t feel comfortable writing and reading in English, the opportunity to learn what I’ve learned on my journey of becoming a better writer.
Most of all, my aim was to make them understand that you only write well if you read well and much. My next dream project is to translate Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer; I hope I can convince my editor soon that it is more than needed in Germany.
Here you can find an essay of mine on The Protagonist’s Journey. I like to think and write about writing, but please don’t expect me to hold on to ideas that I had a few years ago. That’s what makes the life of a writer so beautiful, the possibility to discover new techniques, new styles, new voices. The possibility to begin from scratch, to redefine yourself as a writer. The freedom to decide that you write non-fiction or poetry for a change. The freedom to try out something new. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As Siri Hustvedt said in her wonderful workshop „Why One Story and Not Another“, there are no rules. It’s good to have your tool kit at hand, but during creation you are guided by the Gods – whoever they be for you – and you don’t need any rule or tool.
In the Californian-based Anthology Sanctuary you can find „With Every Thought“. It is about a Syrian family seaking shelter in Germany, and it is about coping with the new life after the children have left the family home, but as usual I wrote a story about loss and a new beginning. At school I also teach kids who fled from Syria hoping to find a new home in my country. And as it so often happens in literature, this is one of my „what if?“ stories. But also check out the other stories in this wonderful anthology, there is a beautiful variety of how to understand „sanctuary“, how important it is, and what people consider as a safe place.
This is my first German novel, Das Geheimnis der Welt, published by Songdog, Vienna. The original was the thesis for my MFA; Alexi Zentner, Gayle Brandeis, and Steven Woodward helped me to write, revise, and submit it. Without their support this novel simply wouldn’t exist. I’ll always remember how I said to Alexi on my first day at college, „I write short stories, full stop,“ and how he replied, „Never say never.“ It took me years to write, translate, revise, and submit it. I often thought of giving up. But here it is now, and I am extremely proud of my baby.
Alexi and Gayle about Das Geheimnis der Welt:
– Alexi Zentner, author of Copperhead, Touch, and The Lobster Kings
This novel took my breath away; it is fresh and fierce and invigoratingly timely. Falzoi’s voice will wake you up, shake you up, and leave you reeling with awe.
But let me finish with a quote that just brought tears to my eyes, because even though we are writers, most of all we are readers and surely started our career that way. It’s a passage from Tom Grimes’s Mentor, which is based on his relationship with his literary hero and master Frank Conroy, but above all it is a book on failure and yet not giving up. I always grab the book I need at the right moment; the novel took so much of me, writing it for my graduation in a very short time, revising it a countless times, translating and submitting it, and even after acceptance I was miles away from the heaven of published novelists. So this is what Tom Grimes wrote and again, another writer was able to console me, to prove that I was not alone:
Every day I face a blank page, knowing that the majority of the words I commit to the page will be wrong, and after I reread my prose, I know a dozen necessary revisions will begin the moment I complete the first draft. But for me writing is a necessity. I exist in sentences. I forget my sense of failure. I forget time. I forget that I’m aging. I forget that one day I’ll die.