Eva Mühlbacher was born in February 1990, started writing at the age of ten and hasn´t stopped since. She studied German philology in Vienna in which she completed an MA in 2016. In her year abroad at the University of Cambridge she also starred in a play and won a college prize for excellence in creative writing. Eva lived in Rome and Verona, marvelling at red wine, orange sunsets sparkling in the river Adige and the stars above the piazza Navona. In 2019 her second novel "Der Momentesammler" was published, followed by "Zeitreisende" in 2020. Eva wrote for the blog of the Sprachenzentrum der Universität Wien, in which she combined both her love for language teaching and her love for travelling in two different blog series. At the moment she is working on her PhD thesis in history of the Middle Ages.
NM: Your book “Zeitreisende” has just been published - can you say a little bit about it without telling us who the killer is? :)
EM: “Zeitreisende” is a journey through German literature from the romantics to the end of the First World War. It is the first volume of a series of three that will go back in time, covering the Baroque and Goethe era before heading on to the Middle Ages.
Most people seem to refer to literature as “boring” or “dry”, but in fact it is full of lively, erotic, stunning stories that are worth reading. I’ve written the book to prove this! The focus lies on the emotional aspect of different times, following author Hugo von Hofmannsthal into a small hut close to the sea where he enjoys an erotic encounter with a hidden lover, for example.
And for everyone who loves Netflix shows: chapter 9 links the motifs, stories and characters to the present day: What do Guzman in Elité and “der Graf” in Arthur Schnitzler´s play Reigen have in common?
It is a playful, yet historically correct approach to German literature.
NM: You launched during the lockdown - what was your experience with a digital launch?
EM: It needed a different approach in presenting the book. I’m used to reading out loud for people and they usually love it because they like my voice. When I had readings of my novels people kept telling me they had my voice in their heads even when reading the book later on. This was not easy to adapt (and we are still working on it). Doing the online reading and the interview was great fun though. (the interview can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBM8vrcMEWI&t=10s )
NM: Are there any silver linings in this pandemic? For example, did you have more time to work on creative projects?
EM: I think there is always something good to be found in negative times. That’s part of a positive approach to life in general. So yes, sure they are. To me it was definitely the time for writing everything down I’ve experienced in the past year without ever having found time to put it down in words. My journey to Jerusalem, for example. And of course there was time to get fully immersed in the literary world of the romantics and fin de siècle artists.
NM: History seems to be one of your main muses... is that a fair observation?
EM: Yes, it is. History can be inspiring in so many ways. It can enrich our lives in discovering thoughts and feelings of past times. From an academic perspective it means we can always learn something new about the ways people were organized or about how our own emotions link us to those of our ancestors. From a creative perspective it opens up an endless playfield of settings and inspiring characters.
NM: What’s the next plan? After the lockdown will you do some more readings or launches, or are you already working on the next book?
After the lockdown I’m definitely going to do readings. I would have also read at the book fair in Vienna this year so hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to be at the next in 2021. And the second volume needs to be written. In other words: Goethe is waiting for me at the piazza del popolo in Rome…
NM. Finally, what´s your favorite chapter?
EM: Hard to say, I love them all. But I’d say I particularly love the 4th chapter since it deals with different shades of the feeling of love and lust. I believe we experience a lot of those feelings in the span of a lifetime and sometimes we are insecure about how to deal with them because they don’t fit into schemes. I’m sure they are what make us human beings so they should not be dealt with as being “wrong”. This chapter also contains Schnitzler´s Reigen. I starred in this play when I studied in Cambridge so it means something to me on a personal level too. It was quite an effort to resist the temptation to again dress up and recite my lines.
Zeitreisende is available to buy here