Anne-Marie Reuter, pictured, says English is the language she feels closest to after her mother tongue
Photo: Maison Moderne
Lux author Anne-Marie Reuter on publishing her first book in English
Co-founder of Black Fountain Press Anne-Marie Reuter talks to Delano about publishing her first book of short stories, “On the Edge”.
Jess Bauldry: You are an English teacher at a Luxembourg school by day. How did you get into creative writing and how do you find the time?
Anne-Marie Reuter: I have always been an avid reader. And I started filling diaries at a very young age. When I was a teenager, these diaries became notebooks in which I would write down little poems or stories--in secret. At that time I was an active member of the drama group ‘Namasté’; I was completely taken by the world of theatre. I nearly failed a year at school because I spent all of my free time in rehearsals or at the theatre watching all kinds of performances. In that sense, I have always been creative or interested in the arts. But it wasn’t until I’d finished my PhD and experienced the “Concours littéraire national”as a jury member, that I started to feel the urge to become more artistically involved again.
Drama wasn’t important any longer, but I didn’t just want to analyse or review other people’s work in an academic way. It was at that point that I felt the need to take up my own writing again and spend more time on it. It felt like catching up with a dear, old, beloved friend I had lost sight of and was grateful to have back in my life. With my teacher’s full-time job, and the recent commitment to Black Fountain Press, finding the time to write is not easy. Saturday and Sunday mornings are sacred. And then I have the advantage of the school holidays.
As a Luxembourger, English is not your first language. Why did you choose to write the book in English?
I’m a teacher of English language and literature. I studied in England. I have very dear friends in Winchester and London. I’ve always considered England as my second home--until Brexit. English is the language I feel closest to after my mother tongue, which is Luxembourgish. I suppose I have never considered writing in Luxembourgish because I grew up seeing it mainly as a spoken language. But this has changed. People text, mail and write in Luxembourgish all the time today. However, I still feel I have more control over what I write, and also more freedom, when I write in English.
“On the Edge” is your first published book and the first edition published by Black Fountain Press, which launched earlier this year. To what extent did this book motivate you to set up Black Fountain?
My book was not an important motivation--if any at all--to set up Black Fountain Press with Jeff Thill, Nathalie Jacoby and Laurent Fels. I’d sent my stories to a Luxembourgish publishing house shortly before Jeff came up with the idea of Black Fountain Press. I was immediately convinced of this project and absolutely excited to be a part of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have withdrawn my stories from the other publishing house to keep them for Black Fountain. But I did. In any case, as publishers we, the Black Fountain team, cannot emphasise enough that we intend to publish all kinds of writers and that this is not a self-publishing venture on a larger scale.
But when it came to creating the visual identity, the cover and book design, the page layout, it turned out to be much easier for us to have one of our own books to take care of. The process of editing and designing the first publication was extremely time-consuming and slightly nerve-wrecking. The next author to be published by Black Fountain Press, will hopefully benefit from our newly acquired skills.
The Black Fountain Press team from left: Laurent Fels, Anne-Marie Reuter, Jeff Thill and Nathalie Jacoby. Photo: Black Fountain Press
The stories are about characters on the edge or who have already fallen. Where did the idea come from? Which is your favourite short story in the collection and why?
I don’t know exactly where the idea came from. I didn’t start off writing the stories with this theme in mind. When I thought about publishing my stories, I noticed there was this common thread to them: being on the edge, literally or metaphorically. I like characters that live in the margin of society, not just for economic reasons, but because events push them into these situations.
I’m interested in the difficult moments people experience at various stages in their lives, moments that often go unnoticed because they are a ‘normal’ part of life: failure, disappointment, fear, loss, tiny personal tragedies. But I also write about private moments of triumph and joy. My stories are not all dramatic or sad. Some are amusing, ridiculous or absurd. I often make fun of my characters’ lives and surroundings.
At the moment, my favourite story in the collection is the last one ‘Dear me’. I had a great time writing it. I like the absurdity of it.
Where to buy “On the Edge”
“On the Edge”is available online via www.luxorr.lu or in the following bookshops: Chapter One, Librairie des Lycées, Librairie Alinéa, Librairie Ernster (Luxembourg), Librairie Diderich (Esch-Alzette), Samkats (Echternach), Librairie Zimmer (Diekirch), die Mayersche (Trier). The price is €15.