In The Attic

‘I worked as an undertaker as research’
German thriller writer Bernhard Aichner answers our questions

Bernhard Aichner is flying the flag for the next wave of Eurocrime with his thriller The Woman of the Dead, a hugely compelling novel about a woman who seeks revenge and gets it. We asked Bernhard a few questions to find out a bit more about him.

Who is your favourite author?

There are so many wonderful books out there. I studied German literature (please don’t ask me to choose my favourite German book – I couldn’t!) and feel a huge affinity with Scandinavian writers. But my English-language heroes are Stephen King, Lisa Gardner and Gillian Flynn.

What book do you most often recommend to friends?

Winter in Maine by Gerard Donovan. A lonely man avenges the death of his dog. It’s a brilliant book.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I’m very lucky in that I can write anywhere. I put in my headphones and dive into the story. I write in bars, on the train, on the plane, but also occasionally at my desk, with my children on my lap and Eminem in my ears.

If you weren’t a writer what job would you liked to have gone into?

Rock star, actor, presenter, pianist, composer, artist, director… But there’s nothing I’d rather do than write.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Everything is possible and nothing is forbidden. For me, writing means total freedom. When I put pen to paper, cows can fly.

What one item could you not live without?

I couldn’t live without love. My wife and children inspire me. Without them, so many pages in my life would be blank.

Tell us something that will shock your readers?

I’ve washed the hair of dead people; I’ve shaved them and sewn their mouths together. As research for my novels, I worked for an undertaker.

The Woman of the Dead is out now in hardback, eBook and audio 

What makes you happy?

Love, writing, signing books.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Whenever anyone says to me ‘that isn’t working’, it always spurs me on. So my motivation doesn’t come from advice, it comes from people telling me that I can’t do things. I like to prove them wrong. I really believe that you can achieve the impossible if you want it enough.

The members of my dream book club would be . . .

Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Mickey Rourke, Judi Dench, and a very good friend of mine called Ferdinand. We would have a lot of fun but I worry the focus would be more on drinking than talking books.

Bernhard Aichner

Bernhard Aichner was born in 1972 and lives in Innsbruck/Austria, where he works as an author and photographer. Aichner writes novels, audio plays and stage plays and has been awarded several literature prizes and scholarships for his works.