Skip to content

“Humans are the most fascinating thing in the world and motivate me as a writer”

Interview with Luxembourg author Nora Wagener


Crazy, amazing and stupid humans in particular intrigue Nora Wagener as a writer, and their words and deeds motivate her to delve deep into their psyches and unearth more in a fictional realm.


“Humans are the most fascinating thing in the world. I´m a huge fan, so to speak, even a bit obsessed,” Ms Wagener said, speaking ahead of her appearance at the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival.


“I like to explore their crazy, amazing, stupid nature and am partly doing so by writing, by emulating other lives, feelings, patterns and also by taking a good look at myself.”


Ms Wagener has to date written award-winning short stories, novels, plays and children’s books, and the creativity diversity is something she relishes.


“Every book I write, regardless of its genre, is like a unique, complete new piece of work for me. That´s one reason to love the job: You won´t get bored and you won´t get used to anything,” she said.


“You sometimes wish you would though … get used to certain things.”


She was awarded the Prix Servais – the most important Luxembourg literary prize – for her short story volume Larven in 2017, and her latest story collection Was habe ich verpasst (What Have I Missed) has also been critically acclaimed.


Speaking about her recent collection, she said it was largely character driven as she wanted to give a wider platform to some of the protagonists and antagonists who had made brief appearances in her earlier work.


“One could say in matter of themes the collection is mostly about longings. On the meta-level about focus and perception. After finishing a bunch of new stories I realised that some of the minor characters in there did intrigue me as well. So I had this idea growing on me: I wanted to give those character the chance to tell their stories too in becoming main characters themselves,” she said.


“In the end, every protagonist you meet in this collection, you have already – sometimes nearly unnoticed  – come across in the previous story.”


Writing as a career can be a struggle at times and when she is asked for advice from aspiring writers who want to get published she – half jokingly – encourages them to first try to find an easier or more enjoyable creative outlet.


“Every writer I know, including me, would actually rather be a musician, a filmmaker or a painter. So my advice would be to ask yourself: Can I hold a brush? Do I play any instrument? Anything else?”


At the 6th EU-China International Literary Festival Nora Wagener will join Marie Gamillscheg from Austria and Lu Min from China at an event entitled “Protagonists and Antagonists: Developing Characters on the Page”.


Developing credible, complex protagonists and antagonists is critical in propelling narratives forward. In this discussion these three leading proponents of the short story and the novel will talk about their work and the art of developing rich and memorable characters on the page.