Interview with Ursula Janssen
Author of Werecreatures
Ursula Janssen, born 1978, is an archeologist and freelance author and now lives with her husband and daughter in southern Italy, after spending several years living and working in various countries in Africa and the Middle East. She writes mostly historic novels but has also published a novel for young readers.
Buy this book
How would you describe "Werecreatures" to a new reader?
- "Werecreatures" takes the idea of shapeshifting one step further and thus creates a new world of fantastic creatures. At the same time it addresses the issues of bullying, tolerance for the other and respect for nature.
What was the inspiration behind "Werecreatures" ?
- I wrote this book for my daughter who was, like the protagonists, 13 years at the time, and who is a great fan of fantastic literature. The idea of the nature of the werecreatures was born during family dinner, and I decided to make it into a novel for tween and teen readers.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- Actually I am very fond of Umberto Eco, but he rather influenced my historical novels. Maybe it is worth mentioning that my daughter is a major fan of Harry Potter, and has managed to pass this on to me.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in the book?
- The location of "Werecreatures" is not precisely specified - on purpose. It could happen in any small or medium town in the world.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? How would you advise a new author about traditional publishing versus self publishing?
- Self-publishing is a great opportunity to remain independent in one's editorial decisions.
What's your writing process?
- I always start with a thorough research of the subject I am writing about which already gives me a good start to outline plots and twists - I always manage to stumble over incredible coincidences and coherencies.
Which character in "Werecreatures" has had the greatest impact on readers?
- Hard to say, but I think it is Coco, a vivacious but kindhearted girl who doesn’t care a lick about what others think of her.
How have readers responded to "Werecreatures"?
- "Werecreatures addresses the very topical topics of bullying and environmental protection. A book to devour, for young and adult readers. Just the right reading for the beginning holiday season."
"The idea is brilliant and well executed ... I would be very happy if a second volume about Coco and the others would appear. Recommended reading age: 12-99"
Have you published other books?
- Not all of my books are translated into English yet, but "The Emir's Trace", a novel set in Puglia in Southern Italy, is available in English. Normally my genre is more in the historical field.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- At the moment I am working on the biographical novel „The Photojournalist“ (working title), describing the adventurous and audacious life of Iranian-French photojournalist Manoocher Deghati, set against the backdrop of the last fifty years of world history. All of these close encounters with historic events constitute the background to personal stories, both dramatic and comic. They are stories of extraordinary experiences, remarkable encounters, incredible coincidences and numerous anecdotes, some of them more fantastic than any invented story could be. At the same time they illustrate the nature of oppression, the protagonist's struggle for freedom, and an unbreakable joy of living.
13-year-old Tim is a bit of a loner at school; he doesn’t have any friends, and he spends the majority of his days trying to avoid the bullies who torment him. The only person who sticks up for him is his classmate Coco, a vivacious but kindhearted girl who doesn’t care a lick about what others think of her. All of that changes one night when Tim experiences a transformation. He learns that he’s a werecreature: a human or animal that can shapeshift. Soon, he discovers a whole new world of fellow werecreatres, a world full of magic and genuine friendship. But this secret world is in danger: unscrupulous businessmen have learned about the werecreatures and plan to abuse their abilities for profit. Can the shapeshifter community fend off the danger? Now that Tim’s made friends, will he be able to save them?