Adventures in Germany!

This semester, my husband and I are fellows and writers in residence at the Hanse-Wissenchaftskolleg (HWK) as part of the Fiction Meets Science project.

He’ll be working on a new scholarly book about Cognitive Literary Studies called Narrative and Experience and I’ll be finishing my next novel, a book about a 19th Century naturalist who goes in search of a mysterious creature he learns about from the natives of an island he’s sent to explore.

Our two sons (12 and 13) are attending the Max-Planck Gymnasium here in Delmenhorst, which has been a crash course in German-language immersion for them. Thankfully, there are many kind English-speaking teachers and fellow students to help them along!

I’ve been settling in to work on my book, tentatively titled The Second Voyage of Audley Worthington. It’s been especially dreamy to have an office space devoted only to my writing where I can put up what I like to call my “murder wall”—post-its of all of the dates and timelines and big and little ideas I’m trying to hang onto while writing this book!

Our fellow fellows ;- ) come from all over the world and are studying all sorts of interesting things. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone fascinating to talk to!

We’re especially loving the interdisciplinarity of the HWK. On Wednesday, we went to an outstanding lecture by Kenny Coventry of the University of East Anglia on his research into the way particular words used for spatial concepts work across languages. Later there was a lovely dinner, followed by drinks in the cozy fireplace room, where  Lida Sherafatmand, an Iranian-born artist now working in Malta, drew a portrait of me!

(Review by Ellis: “Wow! That is amazing! But she forgot to put in all your wrinkles.”)

The staff here at the HWK (or Hah-Vay-Kah as it’s pronounced here) have been incredibly welcoming and helpful to these four bungling Americans with only rudimentary German-language skills!

Special thanks to Kerstin Schill, Dorothe Poggel, Thurid Werner, Wolfgang Stenzel, Christine Gehrking, Bijan Kafi, Michael Killig, Jens Bagull, and Kerstin Labusch for helping us get oriented!

Initially, we thought we’d all four be squeezing into a single tiny 500-800 square foot apartment and likely to murder each other before our time here was done. Instead, the HWK staff surprised us with two adjoining apartments!

The boys are delighted to have their very own flat! They’ve had fun exploring the institute’s ping pong and foosball room and getting to know the other kids and families here at the institute.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Schill and the HWK team, to Susan Gaines and the Fiction Meets Science board, and to our departments and universities for making this adventure possible for us!

Writer friends, scientist friends, artist friends, social science friends, I cannot say enough good things about this place—it is THE DREAMIEST! To quote the text I sent to our family when we arrived: “It’s ten thousand times better than we even expected!” If you’re interested in applying, you can find more information here.

More soon!