“These things come from childhood nightmares, and they come from poetry, from the demons and spirits whispering in your ear, from the memory of birth, from early Renaissance painting, from drunken madness, from music and from the scent of fuchsias.” Zürich based visual artist Trevor Guthrie.
“When you read a book, of course it’s a portal to the lives of the characters, but it’s also a portal to your own life. A book is an expression that we want to belong.” D.B. Miller talks with Uli Beutter Cohen about books, New York subway behaviour and belonging.
“I’ve discovered offering different paths of engagement with ideas is simply a good way to be human. Even the best political movements—both the uplifting and not so uplifting—were driven by a narrative, by story.” Fiction writer Jeremy Bouma.
Anne Wheaton is a champion of kindness. She cares passionately about rescuing pets and helping fellow humans. After 17 years as a hairdresser, she decided to focus all her time on her true passions. The Woolf’s Susan Platt crossed the digital divide to talk to the author and rescue animal advocate about books, pigs, pugs, cats, dogs and Comic Con.
“… ‘high and mighty’ could refer to the mysterious source of poetry. In my case, I have no idea where it comes from, or when it ‘might’ show up. I imagine it floating around up ‘high’ somewhere, looking for a safe place to land. My role, as a poet, is to remain aware and available, ready to write should it choose to come to me.” Switzerland-based poet Elizabeth Boquet.
“Creating awareness of water makes people aware of the truly valuable things in this world. It also makes us question our future and the very future of the planet, itself.” Zürich-based photographer Vaughan James on one of his mighty passions: water.
Move over tooth fairies! There’s a new kind of pixie about and it is taking the world by storm: The Book Fairies, a worldwide network of book lovers who leave free books in public for other people to find. Eleanor Gooding is Switzerland’s first official Book Fairy and she’s on the hunt for new recruits.
““There,” she points to the sculpture at the top of the opera house steps, and grins. A perfect hiding spot. She skips up the steps and turns. Adult or kids’ book, what do you think?” She looks up at me, arms outstretched, a book wrapped in ribbons in each hand.” Ellie Gooding, Zürich’s Book Fairy, shows Susan Platt how it’s done.
“Being an outsider makes it easier to discover things that might go unnoticed by locals. I never really enjoyed taking photos in Switzerland, since everything seems too familiar. However, a danger of misrepresentation lies within this: As an outsider we tend to stress what is different instead of what is similar, therefore creating a bigger gap than there actually is.” —Photographer and documentary maker Ana Amigo
“Why is Switzerland such fertile ground for storytellers?” J.J. Marsh talks to Rosie Goldsmith about Literally Swiss, a ‘cabaret of Swiss writers’ event in London.
“We often get emails from people who tell us that they really do not enjoy reading, but playing the game made them want to read the actual book. So, the app helps people discover or rediscover their love of the written word.” Susan Platt met the San Francisco-based Crazy Maple team to talk about how a raw story is turned into an interactive experience.
“My mission is to reconcile the past in the present through the power of photography.” Visual artist Undine Groeger talks walls, belonging, national identity and art.
“D-Day is the day the client disappears. I discreetly get them out of the home city, making sure no one has followed us.” The mysterious Frank Ahearn, who can make you disappear.
“I think part of the current love affair with history is down to the world we live in now. Our lives are fast, instant, and you are never out of touch. Transport flies us around the globe in hours, communication is constant, and news stories all come at us faster than we can consume them. Speed and instant gratification have become our holy grail.” David Penny speaks with J.J. Marsh.
“I want to understand human beings, what makes them who they are and why they do the things they do. Before I put pen to paper, I spend a long time getting to know my characters.” Geneva-based author Anne Korkeakivi on novels and writing style, the question of identity, cultural adaptation and withstanding the waves of contemporary politics.
“… such a concentration of saturated colours: those alpine meadows with their variety of greens, bright wild flowers, graphite rocky peaks, cerulean blue glaciers.” Zürich-based watercolourist and illustrator Alena Sevastsyanava on seeing the Alps for the first time.
Steve Wheen, multimedia storyteller, talks to the Woolf about the impact of creating tiny storyworlds, the power of imagining, his miniature gardens and his work as The Pothole Gardener, a project that transforms ‘crappy to happy’.
“Calligraphy is a way to press the ‘pause’ button, and go back to this comforting feeling of holding a pen in your hands.” Calligrapher Murielle Doré on calligraphy as meditation, and the relevance of pen and ink in the digital world.
Paul Neale, contemporary artist, discusses red lines and coded environments, fractured figures and distorted bodies, and how pre-existing imagery adds texture to perception.
Switzerland-based Irish poet Padraig Rooney expands on the themes behind The Gilded Chalet, talking con-men and le Carré and the coherence of disparate times.
Zürich-based writer Liam Klenk is in conversation with Susan Platt: his nomadic life, his journey over gender boundaries and the importance of fluidity to a Paralian.
Australian Athens-based writer, editor, designer and musician Jessica Bell walks us through a deeply chameleonic life of words, music and images.
Black comedy, LA-style: organised crime, enchiladas and fruit juice. Zürich-based Daniel Pieracci talks about how NanoWriMo led to his debut novel, Take Your Shot.
From Bondi Beach to the remote Welsh hills, visual artist and entrepreneur Craig Kirkwood discusses his yearning for something lasting and how it led to his recent publication, Aber: a pictorial homage to the Welsh town of Aberystwyth.
Author and Wall Street based financial behaviourist Jacquette M. Timmons talks about how our stories—our past, our context, our attitudes—affect our relationship and our actions with money.
Zürich-based artist Kaye Llewelyn dives into the story behind the making of her picture book, Pocket Money … on serendipity, fluidity, opportunity … and no words.
Award-winning journalist and author Juliana Barbassa talks about writing to understand displacement, Joan Didion, and the experience of relocating to Rio, Brazil, a city in crisis.
Zürich writer, producer and director Samuel Schwarz on the feature film and Alternate Reality Games of Polder, the largest transmedia storytelling project to come out of Switzerland;
“Is this person interesting enough for me to want to spend several months inside their head?” Andrew Crofts talks about Ghostwriting, and the strange symbiosis of writing someone else’s story.
Creativity in Tandem: Pete Morin and Susanne O’Leary are co-authors who’ve never met.