1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I didn’t really get into writing; writing got into me. It happened for the first time when I was five years old. My folks and I went to visit my grandparents and my grandfather showed me his handgun. I asked him what it was for and he said, “Killing bad guys.” He didn’t explain much more. I knew from cartoons that guns fired bullets. It didn’t occur to my tiny brain that bullets could kill people. On our way home, we passed our local sewage treatment plant. It stunk like rotting bodies in a wet room. I asked my father why that was. He said, “Because there’s a river of shit running through it.” We got home and I went to bed. The next morning, I went to school. I was teased ruthlessly, as usual. I came home in a foul mood. I ate dinner and went to my room. Instead of diddling myself or playing videogames, I decided to draw. I grabbed a pencil and a stack of paper. As I sat there scribbling, I let my mind go. I thought about the handgun and what my gramps had said. I thought about the kids who teased me and the sewage treatment plant. Suddenly, a force shot through me; I was like a metal rod pulling lightening from the clouds. When the sensation ceased, I looked down at the page. I had written and illustrated (albeit terribly) a story about a handgun that came to life, floated over to the sewage treatment plant, shot down the sign warning people of the “river of shit,” so that when all the kids that bullied me at school walked by it, they didn’t see it and thus fell in and drowned. I was immensely proud of my little story. I ran into the kitchen screaming and showed it to my mother. She smiled at first. As she read, her smile dropped. When she finished, she looked up at me. Her expression was one of pure terror. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I’ve been writing ever since.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
I wrote my book about a trip I took around the world with my childhood buddies in 2006. I guess you could say the trip is what inspired me to write the book. But the thing that pushed me to write it was a night of unprotected sex some three years later … I’d woken up the next morning and realized I’d forgotten to use a condom. I didn’t know the woman I’d fucked, and I was hungover, and when I’m hungover, I get paranoid. I started thinking I’d contracted HIV. I worked myself into a frenzy and was huffing and panting and screaming the whole drive home. When I arrived, I ran upstairs and took a shower. As I was scrubbing my junk and banging my head against the tiles, I realized that it wasn’t HIV I was afraid of, it was dying before I released all the words inside of me. I was 27 and set to go to grad school. I got out of the shower, called the director of my program, cancelled my enrollment, sat down at the computer, and wrote the first chapter of “Chuck Life’s a Trip.”
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I don’t want them to take away any theme or message in particular. All I ask is that they embark on the trip that is my book with an open mind and an open heart.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
My genre, if you could call it that, is “fictionalized memoirs.” I can’t say what drew me into it. But I can say that I like the idea of writing about my past without the encumberment of sticking to the facts.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
If I could sit down with any character in my book, I would sit down with the main character, whose name is Johann Klaus Felmanstien, and ask him why he chose to represent us with such a stupid fucking name.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Seeing as how I’ve only used Blogger and Facebook to promote my work, I’d have to say those two. I wish I could say I haven’t used any social media sites to promote my work, and that my readership has grown strictly through reading and word-of-mouth, like in the good old days when people actually read books and then talked about them face-to-face with other people, but those days are dead, buried, and rotting, so yeah, Blogger and Facebook.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
If you’re doing this for money, fame, sex, or any combination of the three, kindly take your computer, and any other instruments of writing you may own, form a pyramid with them in your backyard, douse it with lighter fluid, strike a match, and toss it at the belly of that bitch so that it may go up in flames along with your dreams … However, if you’re in this for the good fight, and by that I mean putting words on the page so that a decade from now they reach some poor bastard ready to stick a gun to his head, and he reads them and decides to give life one more shot so he can take his kid to the park, then write everyday with honesty and vigor and don’t stop until you croak.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I’m currently editing my second novel, which is based on my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. I have also written a compilation of poems and book of short stories, both of which I will release at a later date … As for my future, I have no idea what it holds. I only know that with writing, I’ve crossed the point of no return, and it scares the shit outta me.
About the Author
Hans Joseph Fellmann currently lives between Prague, where he teaches to keep the lights on and writes to keep from going nuts, and Livermore in Northern California, where his funky little ass grew up. During the last twenty years, Hans has been tiptoeing the globe and scribbling it all down. To date, he has visited over eighty countries on six continents, and he continues to “blow it up” each summer.
By the skin of his teeth, Hans earned a BA degree from the University of California at San Diego in International Studies, with an emphasis on the Middle East. His articles and short stories have appeared (albeit not magically) in the UCSD Guardian, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Prague Revue. To improve his craft, and to buy his folks keychains so they could claim their son went to grad school, he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2013.
His first novel “Chuck Life’s a Trip,” which is based on a trip he took around the world with his childhood buddies in 2006, is now available on Amazon. He recently completed a second semi-autobiographical novel which he is “polishing.” It is about his pants-on-the-head-crazy experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan.
In his spare time, Hans likes to study languages, the more obscure the better. He speaks ten, including Czech, Turkmen, Farsi and Spanish, with varying degrees of proficiency. He is also a huge geography and book nerd. When he’s not backpacking where he shouldn’t be or rattling off in some foreign tongue, he’s got his eyes crawling over a map of a long-forgotten Central Asian republic, or his nose buried deep in a book by a fellow B.A.M.F.