Q&A with Author Karl Olsberg

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: karlolsberg@gmail.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!

Review Delete by Karl Olsberg 5* Q&A to follow!

delete cover

Delete by Karl Olsberg 5*
One of my favourite books from 2016.

The synopsis:

A GRIPPING, UP-TO-THE-MINUTE THRILLER FOR FANS OF THE MATRIX, NOMAD AND M. R. CAREY.

For role-playing gamers like Mina and Thomas, reality can blur when you spend too much time online. But when Thomas disappears, not only from the virtual world but also from real life, Mina sets out to search for him. When she discovers that other Berliners have gone missing, all of them participants in the same game, she worries that she will be next.

Chief Inspector Eisenberg heads up a team that is supposed to track and prevent potential terrorists. But identifying suspects via pattern recognition doesn’t help – you can’t arrest someone before a crime has been committed. Faced with uniting a brilliant but unruly team made up of hackers and coders, Eisenberg is drawn into the puzzle of the missing gamers – all of whom had the same in-game experience immediately before they disappeared.

Will Eisenberg and his team be able to unravel the truth from the fiction before it’s too late?

My review:

This year I have read several novels by German writers and I have been hugely impressed. The novels translate well into English and have been easy to follow despite being set in another location and another police force etc.
This novel centres around the online gaming community, technology and most importantly perception of reality. It is very well written and remains gripping right to the very last page.
I am not a gamer or have any interest in artificial intelligence but I picked this novel due to its unique plot of those topics. I loved every minute of the read, it was very complex and the killer was written brilliantly, right down to the disguise.
I was concerned at about 75% in that the ending would suddenly be all tidy and wrapped up. Which would have not been in fitting with the novel. The reality was the ending was one of the best I have read this year! (and this was my 187th novel so far!).
I don’t want to give to much away regarding the plot of the novel or the characters themselves. but they are very well described, there are some with mental health conditions that are so brilliantly portrayed. With the conditions themselves explained superbly.
I would hugely recommend this novel, especially to those interested in gaming & AI, although it is not necessary to have a huge amount of knowledge as the book guides you through the information.
huge praise for the author, I will definitely be reading his future novels!
*I received a free Ebook copy via net galley in return for an honest review.

Delete is available free to Kindle Unlimited members or for 98p to Uk Amazon Kindle users
Q&A to follow with author Karl Olsberg.