Janna is a German writer sitting in Wellington, unable to decide on just one fantastical subgenre. She writes in German and English, publishing modern fairy tale retellings and Buffy-esque Urban Fantasy, while also venturing out into reality for some contemporary slice-of-life stories.
Q: You’re a high-performing hobbyist, which either means you’ve got a multicore brain or you’re hitting the Ritalin hard. How did you get into … circus arts? Like, the world needs to hear this story.
A: I’ll go with the multicore brain. I mean, no one looked at my brain yet, so it might as well be true. In any way it does feel like I have some sort of superpower, which is being able to complete tasks almost twice as fast as everyone else, which in turn make it possible to keep up with so many projects and hobbies.
As for the circus arts story. I was a gymnast as a child – quitting at age 10 to play basketball (did I mention, I’ve got too many interests?) – and I love trying out new things. When I was living in Christchurch I came across an advertisement for antigravity yoga, which not only sounded pretty cool but looked pretty cool as well. So, I started out with that one, but it was in a poledance studio that also houses some circus arts. And there it was, the possibility to do gymnastics as an adult, which honestly is so damn hard to find, if you’re not on competitive level. I started with acrobatics and quickly added aerials to my repertoire.
Q: You’ve written the German Buffy (Seriously, it’s in German). I’m a fan of both the original movie and the subsequent series. a) Where do you sit on the movie vs. series and b) how did you go about reimagining her for Germans?
- I discovered Buffy pretty late, when it was already in its fifth season. To be fair, I was only 15 then. I rewatched the first seasons and the movies since then, but because I was so late to the party, I think the movie cult escaped me a little, so it’s the series for me.
- Well, to be fair, reimagining Buffy didn’t quite go as planned. For example, we (my then co-developer, now editor, and me) had our Buffy character in new-to-town, discovering-she’s-a-witch, brave Lucille. She was supposed to be the protagonist, but then episode two hit and her scoobie-gang decided to make things even, so now, I’m stuck with six protagonists that each want the spotlight in their own ways.
But let’s start at the basics. Ashuan is an Urban Fantasy Drama that takes place in the Harz in the middle of Germany. Now, the Harz is a very old region that oozes stories of witchcraft and demons. Seriously, there is a witches-dance spot, a devil’s wall and many more. If magic exists in any place in Germany, it’s there.
Second, instead of vampires (though they do turn up, especially in a fancy maritime species) we have a truckload of demons.
I think what makes it feel like Buffy is the set-up (a group of teenagers fight demons in their quiet little hometown) and the humour. Gosh, these guys are a snarky bunch. When the first reviews came in, saying »Buffy is back« or »buffy-feeling« I was ecstatic.
I think it’s its own thing but it definitely has that vibe that makes people nostalgic.
Q: You’re holding a crossbow with a single quarrel left. There’s a vampire and your ex (who you hate, obvs) in the room with you. What do you do?
A: Oh dear, I shoot the vampire. I’m an essentially good person and could never hurt or murder another human being, not even if it’s THAT ex. He better thank me for it though!
If you think German Buffy sounds rad (and you’re an incurable cynic if you don’t), check out Ashuan! It’s what you need.