Greg Baxter’s tense and gripping psychological thriller Munich Airport sees an American expat whose sister’s body has been found in mysterious circumstances marooned by bad weather in the titular airport with his irascible father and a sympathetic American Consulate official who is trying to help discover the cause of death. He tells us about his reading and writing routines.
Where are you now?
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
I write just about anywhere, usually in the mornings.
If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
Nothing I’m aware of.
Full-time or part-time?
Pen or keyboard?
How do you relax when you’re writing?
Writing relaxes me.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
It’s a book about starvation, marketing, Berlin, London, the Holocaust, the Middle Ages, madness, war, diplomacy, art, language – but mostly it’s a book about music.
Who do you write for?
What a strange question!
Who do you share your work in progress with?
Nobody. I send finished first drafts to my agent and editor, and then editing begins.
Which literary character do you wish you created?
I don’t know. Probably somebody in a Chekhov story.
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
“I felt sad for the street, for the houses in the street, and for the people who were standing there, waiting. And I knew that I was standing here, feeling sad, and that I would see my enemy, him whom the others, who were waiting with me, called by his Christian name; and that they were joking while I alone was feeling sad.”
– Hans Keilson, Death of the Adversary
Which book do you wish you’d written?
There are too many, but to pick a recent read J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians.
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Death of the Adversary by Hans Keilson and Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder.
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
Demons by Dostoyevsky, The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy.
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
Too many to list.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
I probably go back to Kafka and Chekhov more than any other authors.
What is the last work you read in translation?
I read a lot of books in translation – probably most of the novels I read are in translation.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
It’s been a while since I read a collection of stories. The Penguin Book of Russian Short Stories is very good – it introduced me to greats such as Shalomov, Kharms, Shukshin, etc.
What will you read next?
I read slowly – so the books on my bedside will keep me busy for a while.
What are you working on next?
I haven’t written anything for a year. I don’t know.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
I don’t think I’d like to participate in a literary supper.
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Racing sailboats. Not a joke.
Greg Baxter was born in Texas in 1974. He has lived in Ireland, England, Austria, Chicago, Louisiana and Germany and is currently based in Berlin. He is the author of the memoir A Preparation for Death and the novels The Apartment and Munich Airport, now published in hardback and eBook by Penguin. Read more.