“The more I work with students and performers, the more I am convinced that humans are happiest when they are given the opportunity to inhabit several roles. To wear a disguise mask can be a thrilling retreat from one’s own identity (and raise the apprehension of the viewer), but to create a new identity with a character mask, which moves, breathes and expresses itself in an entirely different but truthful way, can be exhilarating.” —Designer/maker, performer and producer, Russell Dean.
“The spark for this particular book was a simple parental duty from many years ago—giving my young son a shower. Both of us dreaded that activity so much that we spent countless hours discussing ideas for a five-second shower machine. While the Bath-o-Miser, as we had named it, never materialised, this book did.” Zürich based writer Brijesh Luthra on how he got the idea for his latest book.
“How can anyone really know another person? How can one person understand the decisions of another? What makes connection, and what breaks it down?” Novelist and translator Michelle Bailat-Jones on the impact our words have on others, and on her latest novel, ‘Unfurled’.
“There is so much beauty around us; it’s on us to see it. In Switzerland there is always a discussion around killing more wildlife, but I think we should feel very lucky we still have wild animals. We need to find a way to live together with them. They were here before us and we are the intruders in their territory— which also reflects back to the topic of snowflake. They are delicate animals, they need a refuge to rest, especially during mating and breeding season. They need peace and shelter. We have to understand that and support it.” —Photographer Reto Fürst
“Most importantly, we believe fiction and non-fiction are not contrary forces. Rather, fiction helps us better understand the outside world, so we use the stories as a bridge to explore beyond ourselves.” Mariana Villas-Boas on the thinking behind her project: StoryLabs.
“From afar, the snow-covered mountains present this beautiful, serene panorama, but up close they are unforgiving and dangerous. I have a deep respect for these dangers—especially avalanches. At the same time, I find it amazing that something as small and insubstantial as snowflakes can become terrifying forces of nature.” —Debut novelist H.S. Norup
“One day, when I was living in Singapore, I saw a performance of Bian Lian—Chinese opera—with a dancer who wears many masks, changing them by sleight of hand so that the audience can’t see how it’s done. This so perfectly captured Ed that I put the dancer into the novel.” Jo Furniss on her latest novel, The Trailing Spouse.
“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.