Today we have an interview with German best selling author Mila Olsen for you. Milas hobbyhorses are touching novels about love and life. Her debut novel has sold no less than 180,000 copies and in 2016 she was named an Amazon-Kindle bestseller. We asked Mila if she would like to tell us a bit about herself, if she has any tips for young authors and why she is a convinced self-publisher.
Would You Like to Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself? How Did You Come to Writing? In What Genre Are You “at Home”?
I thought a long time about how to start this interview and finally decided on my life motto. Carpe diem. With that you get to know me pretty well. On the one hand I love quotes and sayings, on the other hand I want to fill my life time mainly with things that make me happy. For example with writing. But lets start at the beginning. My real name is Uta Maier, but I write under the pseudonym Mila Olsen, because it looks nicer on a cover. However, Mila Olsen sounds much more youthful than I am with my 47 years, so some readers are surprised when they meet me.
I don’t mind my age at all, even though I belong to the older group in the self-publishing sector. On the other hand, I see things in a much more relaxed light. I write because I enjoy it, and if at some point it doesn’t make me happy anymore, I stop. Just carpe diem. It’s a hobby that has become a profession – I’m actually an occupational therapist, even though I wanted to be a writer as a child. I also wrote a lot when I was young (after I was too old to play with dolls), but never seriously believed that I could actually become a writer one day. Today I’m glad I didn’t find writing again until lateer, because it’s very labor-intensive, especially as a self-publisher, where you also have to take care of marketing etc. As I am an absolute family person, I probably couldn’t have reconciled this with my conscience when my children were younger. Today my three girls are fortunately old enough and only my husband grumbles from time to time 🙂
Today I don’t know how I came to writing. It was a process, started with editing (since I also studied German as a minor subject) and ended – after reading “Harry Potter” – with a first, unfortunately quite unsuccessful, novel, at that time still in the fantasy genre. I had to learn a lot. No, actually everything. At that time I simply had no idea about writing books and taught myself everything. Fortunately I found a really good, very ungracious editor who didn’t let me get away with anything. From then on things went uphill. At some point I turned my back on the genre of fantasy and specialized in coming of age novels, in which there is always a dramatic love story and a lot of gloom. It’s practically a genre mix.
What Fascinates You About Writing?
I can immerse myself in another world and simply leave the fears and worries of everyday life outside. In my novel I can determine what happens next, no one else. It is also fascinating to create your own little universe and to create characters that inspire you.
Where Can You Write Best? At Home, at a Café?
At home, obviously. I try Starbucks from time to time, but it never works out as well as I’d like.
Do You Plan Your Stories Down to the Last Detail, or Do They Only Develop Over Time?
I’m definitely a plotter and try to plan all the important turning points and every scene in great detail. However, it often happens that I deviate from the plot while writing. The last third is usually different from what I initially imagined, but I definitely need a proper plan to get started. It has happened too often in the last four years that I started with a vague idea and at some point got stuck. That’s why I now have several 250-350 page unfinished manuscripts on my PC.
Do You Use Special Writing Programs?
I write with Papyrus and I am completely happy with it.
Have You Ever Had Writer’s Block and What Do You Do About It?
I only get writer’s block when there’s something wrong with the plot. Unconsciously you notice it and a break can help to identify the problem. Or I let someone read it – I have a girlfriend, for example, who read my kidnapping sequel when I almost wanted to put it behind me. She immediately told me at which point the story begins to stagnate. That helped me a lot back then. Otherwise, only really serious family problems and worries like serious illnesses etc. lead to the fact that I can’t work creatively. Then nothing helps, only patience.
How Can You Improve as a Writer?
Writing, writing, writing. And of course reading, in order to permanently expand the vocabulary and to get a feeling for suspense and the structure of novels. I don’t read enough, but I am addicted to all books about writing. Oh yes – very important – as an author you should never take criticism personally. In general, you should be able to take criticism and put it into practice. A good editor is worth his weight in gold when learning to write.
Do You Have Literary Role Models?
I must confess that I have never been a friend of classical literature. In school I bought these yellow interpretation books.
Since I’m currently writing books for young people, I read them too, of course. I love the writing style of Suzanne Collins and Joanne K. Rowling. I also like to read Catherine Ryan Hyde, Joy Fielding and from the psychological thriller corner I like Cody McFadyen. A real role model for me is Stephen King. He writes every day and never plots. He’s a genius.
What’s Your Favorite Book?
“Hello, Mr. God, this is Anna” by Fynn
What Advantages Do You See in Self-Publishing?
In self-publishing I am my own master. I can decide everything myself. From the cover to the content. Nobody tells me what’s hip and what should be written better. I’m not good at this kind of thing, I wouldn’t put my heart and soul into it. On top of that, I spend a long time writing a book, sometimes (with editing, revision etc.) a good three quarters of a year. My life time is too precious for me to write about trends. On top of that I mix different genres, which is not appreciated by publishers anyway.
What Do You Appreciate About Nova MD?
The whole concept. I’m still very new at Nova MD, but so far everything has been running smoothly. I am quite happy to have found a company that takes over the whole distribution. What’s more, the process, from sending in the print file to the publication date, was handled incredibly quickly, so that the book could be ordered promptly in all the major chains such as Hugendubel, Thalia etc. – and still is.
Are you curious about Mila Olsen’s books now? You can find them on Amazon, among other places.