By Dan Levy
The daughter of a writer, Dr. Ines Eberl spent her formative years in Berlin, Germany and Paris, France, rich backdrops for any thriller writer. For her eighth novel, SOUND OF MURDER, Eberl opts for Austria, with the Alps as a backdrop to create a page-turned meant to enlist all of her readers’ senses.
In this interview with The Big Thrill, Ines shares a bit of her writing journey, and the inspiration behind her thrilling new release.
What started you writing eight novels ago?
I’m fascinated by the freedom of an artist to create a new world. And as I create a virtual world, I begin to understand the real one. I’ve always been a seeker and my curiosity is never satisfied. I am the daughter of a writer, and I grew up in the world of books, words, and languages. So, the circle of life now has been closed. It’s in my genes. I’m a born writer.
It seems that setting and fine cuisine are important elements in all your novels. Yet, the title would indicate that sound also plays an important role. Why is it important to create a full sensory experience for your readers?
I enjoy life and all new experiences—the color and the smell of the early morning in the Alps, the sea, a tasteful meal, an emotional melody, the soft coat of my hounds, friendship, love. Love is what motivates me most and living with all senses makes life worth living for me. If you don’t feel the great moments of life, you can’t enjoy a thrilling story.
What inspired the story behind THE SOUND OF MURDER? What makes it unique among all your novels?
It is a reinterpretation of the old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde theme. But I would like to give my readers a new perspective and make them understand his lost soul. Don’t we all have our dark sides? Crime writers perhaps even more than others? To quote Graham Greene, “There is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer.” There are times when I can feel the splinter of ice.
What surprised you about your protagonist, Mark Vanlanthen, as he came to life on the page?
Mark is very old school–he drives a vintage car and has a good sense of humor. During the writing process, he started talking to the reader, providing expert advice as a former chef and making jokes. Readers get the feeling of having an intelligent new friend. It was a surprising twist that was received positively.
One review for THE SOUND OF MURDER called it “dark” and compared it to Hitchcock. Did you find it a challenge to bring a darker side to a genre defined by the word “cozy”?
It was not a challenge because I did not add the dark elements from the outset. They have grown organically with the story, and I have supplemented it. A review gets it to a point: “Agatha Christie meets Bram Stoker.” It is like in life—opposites produce tension.
It has always seemed that fiction writers like to weave in messages about current events or real life issues. Is there a larger message that you want your readers to take away after reading THE SOUND OF MURDER?
All my books have a topic along with the story—fake art, colonialism, incest. These issues are the key to the novel and should also make the reader think. THE SOUND OF MURDER shows the tortured soul and the hidden side of the person next door.
It seems quite a few authors influenced your writing. Is there one that stands out above the others?
Above all it was Stephen King who made me understand the creation of multidimensional characters and the power of dialogue.
Considering the importance of good character development in any story, what’s one thing about you people would be surprised to learn?
I am a curious, strong and a fearless person by day. But I do not like the night and the darkness at all. I grew up with the legends of the North—elves, lost souls, wanderers who disappear in the foggy moor. It is not that I expect to find a werewolf on my terrace, but my imagination as a writer is quite disturbing. I like to stay at home reading and writing. And, like the medieval ladies in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, I appreciate the company of a knight or a guard dog. Besides, I am the queen of nightmares. Maybe this is the price an author pays.
What’s one piece of advice that has served you well since you started writing? Is it the same advice you’d give to aspiring authors?
There are two. First, every character has its own script. If you have five characters, you have to create five stories. Second, in his world, the antagonist is the protagonist. In THE SOUND OF MURDER, the villain fights for morality—in his opinion. Give your antagonist a soft side, and you will create a fascinating person.
Any final thoughts on being a mystery/thriller writer that you’d like to share?
If you are an aspiring thriller writer, be prepared to receive criticism at all levels. It’s not a simple genre—it needs craft and experience and a lot of reading. Respect your publisher and your agent. These people want to form professional and productive long-term relationships with writers. The fact that they’re bothering to take the time to criticize you should show that you are walking the right way.
If you are already a published writer and you can tell powerful stories that touch the feelings of your readers and change people’s thinking, then be aware of your responsibility. Try to make the world a better one—every single day of your life as a writer.
Ines Eberl grew up in Berlin and Paris and earned her law degree at the University of Salzburg. She gained her first experiences as a journalist in the newsroom at the Austrian television network ORF, then she returned to academia to conduct research on German contemporary history, in particular the Third Reich and Nazi legislation, at the Institute for European Legal History. Today she works at a law firm as a lawyer whose passion for writing remains. After authoring several suspense novels, she is now a member of the ITW and belongs to the Crime Writers´Association of the U.K.
To learn more about Ines, please visit her website.