Karl Olsberg is the talented author of Delete. Which was one of my favourite books of 2016. I contacted Karl via his author page and managed to organise this Q&A.
*note Karl’s author page is in German, I do not speak German, luckily Karl speaks English. So with his help, I was able to bring this Q&A to life. (Note to self, learn more languages! lol)
Q) For the readers, can you give a summary of yourself and your novel?
A) I’m an author of thrillers and children’s books living in Hamburg, Germany. Delete is the fourteenth novel I have published, but the first one that got professionally translated into English. It’s about a new special police unit in Berlin using unusual, technology-based methods to solve crimes, called SEGI. In their first case, players of a MMORPG vanish mysteriously without a trace. Chief Inspector Eisenberg and his team soon find out that this case is not a regular crime, but seems to call the foundations of reality into question …
Q) The novel was one of my favourites of 2016, I loved the uniqueness of the plot and themes. What was the inspiration behind the novel?
A) I’m a long-time science fiction fan, and although “Delete” is not an SF novel, it touches topics similar to those found in novels like the classic “Simulacron 3” and movies like “The Matrix”. So of course, those have heavily influenced the book, and some of them I even use in the story. Another source of inspiration was the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, especially his fascinating paper “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” (http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html) According to him, the answer “Yes” to that question may be much more likely than most of us would guess.
Q) Delete has themes of Artificial Intelligence and online gaming. Did you research these specifically for the novel? What did you uncover aside from the themes you used?
A) I wrote my Ph.D. on Artificial Intelligence, although at the time (late eighties) the technology had not much to do with what’s possible today. I also used to be a game developer in the nineties. So a lot of this comes from personal interest and experience. But of course I still had to do a lot of research to get up to date. These topics are also found in some of my other novels, like my latest novel “Mirror” about smart gadgets that take control of their user’s lives (not available in English yet). I also write fanfiction novels for the computer game Minecraft.
Q) One thing I absolutely admired within the novel, was the portrayal of mental health. I have 10 years’ experience within the industry and often find it incorrectly portrayed in novels, which is frustrating! Yours was such an honest portrayal and done with sensitivity. What was the research process?
A) I’m fascinated with autism, which I regard not as a mental disorder but as a unique character trait, so I’ve read a lot of books written by autistic people, and you can find autistic characters in some of my books. I’ve also read a lot about paranoid schizophrenia, which is fascinating because people suffering from it are sometimes unable to tell their own thoughts from what’s happening around them, so the border between fantasy and reality blurs. I sometimes think that this is true for authors like me as well. 😉
Q) What are your favourite books, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood?
A) This is a long list, and I have difficulty placing one particular book on the top of it, because books are so different. I’m influenced by SF and fantasy (e.g. Neil Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Philip K. Dick, Stanislav Lem, to name but a few) as well as children’s books (most notably, Michael Ende, Erich Kästner, and René Goscinny, the brilliant father of the “Asterix” comics) and of course thrillers (Robert Harris, Michael Crichton, Andreas Eschbach come to mind).
Q) I know you have other Novels available which have been translated to English also. Please feel free to share details here. Also what are you currently working on?
A) Unfortunately, Delete is currently the only one of my novels available in English. I had self-translated and self-published some Minecraft novels before, but I withdrew them from the market for legal reasons, and they are currently unavailable. Of course, I hope that “Delete” will be successful enough so that more of my books will be translated. My latest novel “Mirror” might be a candidate. A new “all-age” novel will be published this fall, called “Boy in a White Room”, that touches the same philosophical question that “Delete” does – what is reality? – but in a very different way.
*huge thanks to Karl Olsberg for agreeing to take part in a Q&A on my blog.
Karl’s blog (in German): www.karlolsberg.de
Contact: email@example.com. I’ll try to write back in English
I am loving the Q&A feature on my blog. I like the ability to engage with fascinating writers and learn more about their backgrounds. I have 7 more pending currently so stay tuned for more in the future!