Even if you’ve never been to New Zealand, some things are known about the country: It’s an island, you speak English, you drive on the left side, and Lord of the Rings was filmed here. But there is much more to this country. I’m starting the series “Discover New Zealand” on Instagram and Facebook. I want to share how I experiance New Zealand as a German and what little hurdles there are in everyday life. Keep an eye out for posts if you are interested in New Zealand or life in other countries. Also feel free to ask me questions and I’ll answer them directly or with a post.
3 Things that have changed my everyday life:
I’ve lived here for over 3 years now and I still struggle to link January to be the hottest month and July as the coldest month. Because we live in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are exactly the opposite than in Germany. So that means we spend Christmas on the beach. When I talk to my family on the phone, I don’t say, “Next summer I’ll do this or that.” But I say the month I’m going to do something. It confuses me and my family because we don’t know what summer I am talking about. So I skip the risk of misunderstanding and express myself differently.
Contact with my familiy
Staying in touch with family and friends in Germany has also changed. Depending on the time dof the year, we have 10 or 12 hours time difference. So that means when I’m awake, Germany is asleep. So phone calls are only possible on weekends early in the morning or late in the evening. And every night I turn off my cell phone, because there is a very high chance that I will get a message in the middle of the night that would wake me up.
Another point, is the availability of things. We live on an island here and it’s far away from everything. So if I want to fly to another country for vacation, I have to be prepared for at least a 3 hour flight. And with that, I might reach 2-3 countries. That looks completely different in Europe, if I have a 3 hour flight radius. And then there are not as many products available as in Germany. My consumer behavior here has changed extremely. I no longer order anything on the Internet because an Amazon delivery takes up to 3 weeks. I waited 7 months for a delivery from another provider and then cancelled it. For clothes, food, tools, furniture and others there is little variety and the prices are a lot higher than in Germany. When I compare what I spent my money on before and now, I realize that I am more limited to the essentials. I am satisfied with what I have. I no longer buy additional things, but only replace.
On 08.10.2022 I presented my 3 English books at the New Zealand book fair “Everything Books” in Tauranga.
I have exhibited my books in Germany and New Zealand at book fairs and I have to say that there is a big difference between the two countries. I have talked to other authors in New Zealand and they can’t say exactly why it is harder to sell books here. The book fairs are rather small and only a limited number of visitors come to them.
The only added value of these events is that I can exchange ideas with other authors. I met my English editor after a long time, got tips from well-known authors and talked to new acquaintances. I still need to figure out for myself if I will continue to go to the small book fairs in New Zealand or if I will change my marketing strategy.
Anyone who knew me as a teenager would never have thought that I would ever go on stage and speak in front of an audience. But today it’s one of my favorite things to do, and every time an opportunity arises, I take it.
In August, I answered questions about Diversity in Culture at the University of Auckland, and at Hamilton Book Month, I presented my latest publication. This month, I’m heading to Tauranga to speak at a book fair.
No matter how big the audience, I always imagine I’m talking to just one person and answering their questions. Before I go on stage, I think about who my audience is and what they might be interested in. I then come up with the main question that this audience would probably ask me and answer that one question during my speech. If I only have 5 minutes, then it will be short and sweet. If I have longer, then I embellish the answer with stories I’ve experienced to make my speech more colorful.
Maybe my approach will help you the next time you have to speak in front of an audience. Just remember, they mean you no harm and you have something to say, that’s why you’re standing in front of them.
In August, I took part in a crime writing workshop. I had already done a lot of research on the subject and had published a crime novel only a few days before. So why should I sign up for the workshop and pay money for it?
I love to exchange ideas with other authors. A workshop allows authors to come together who normally hide in their 4 walls or sit unnoticed in the corner of a café. It gives me a chance to meet other authors. We talk about our book ideas, how to publish or market our books and what problems we have to solve. But I have also learned a lot about crime fiction. Writing is very broad and versatile. There is no right or wrong. Another author’s experience gives me new options.
It was never my plan to write a book. It was more of a feeling like, “Yeah, a book would be nice.” But I never sat down to polish an idea or write short stories. In 2015, however, I discovered that I was missing a technical book for engineering. Without further ado, I decided to take the subject into my own hands and wrote down 500 pages within a few weeks. However, I realized that I was working without a common thread. In some places I was too detailed and in others too superficial. I had overstretched myself with the project and maneuvered it into a dead end.
But I didn’t want to give up, because it was clear to me that this book had to be written. So I enrolled in a writing group and learned how to write books. I wrote my first novel, “The Colour of the Sari.” Through the writing group, we founded the Writers and Collectors. We decided to publish an athology together. So I wrote a story for it. Because I was already living in New Zealand at that time, it was obvious to translate my two stories and publish them as well.
The writing group and my trip around the world inspired me and lit a fire in me. Ideas for books just pop into my head and I can’t keep up with writing them. I collect my ideas in notebooks. The ideas with potential for a book go into a list. And based on this list I decide which book to write next. It can happen that I have several projects going on at the same time. One manuscript is finished, but I’m waiting for the illustrations. One book is at the editor. And on another project, I’m writing the first draft. I am always guided by my feelings. I work on the project I feel most like. My engineering book is also still on the list. And there will be a time when it will be back as my top priority. For now, I’m just thankful that it was the incentive for me to discover writing.
Before the pandemic, I traveled a lot. 4 vacations a year and then the world trip. Traveling was my daily routine and if I wasn’t on a airplane for more than a few months or if there was no trip in the planning, then I got restless.
At the end of 2019, I moved to New Zealand. At that time I had not planned any further travel, because I had just arrived in a new country and wanted to get a foothold. Only a few months later, the pandemic reached New Zealand and the government decided to close the borders. Nobody would have thought at that time that it would take more than 2 years until it would be easier to leave the country and come back.
A few weeks ago, after 3 years, it was time for me to travel again. I went to Korea. I had to check first that my passport was still valid. Also, traveling had changed a lot since the last time I was on a plane. Filling out many forms, covid tests before boarding the plane, masks during the flight, isolation and more tests upon arrival.
The week before the flight I was a bit tense. Had I thought of everything? It was only when I was standing at the airport that the feeling of familiarity came back. A bit like riding a bicycle. A tingling in the stomach before you get on after a long time, the first kicks are a bit shaky, but after the first 2 meters it feels normal again. That’s how it was for me with traveling.
In Korea, I was asked what it was like to be in a foreign country. And I had to say that it felt very familiar. I like to sit in a group of people and I don’t understand their language. I like to try new dishes (if they are not too spicy). And I like to get lost in the streets of an unknown city.
As an author I publish books in German and in English. This means I serve different markets. At first glance, the German-speaking world seems much smaller than the English-speaking world. After all, English is spoken in many more countries than German.
I’ve been publishing books for 5 years now and what I’ve noticed in that time is that it’s a little easier for me to get a foothold in the German market. Maybe because I am German? Maybe because we Germans read more? Or maybe because there is less competition that can publish in German? I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve just noticed so far that I have to do more marketing here in New Zealand than in Germany. I’m active on social media, attend events, talk to friends and acquaintances about my passion for writing, and network with other authors.
Being an author is not a goal, but like everything else, a path. A path I like to walk, on which I learn a lot and meet inspiring people.
Fatal accidents don’t usually happen in fairy tales… When a young woman drowns in a garden pond in a small town in Germany, Gerd is very worried. He reproaches himself for not having visited his widowed neighbor more frequently, in whose fairy tale garden the accident occurred. Despite his own problems, he offers her his help. Will they find out what happened to the young woman? And can Gerd’s wife help them, or is she just spinning her own fairy tale?
I’m excited to be back at Hamilton Book Month this year. Local authors will be presenting their latest works. There will be short readings and you can look around to see if you find a new favorite book. I’ll be there with my latest mystery novel, “Mermaids Don’t Drown.”
The new short crime novel “Mermaids don’t drown” by Rebecca Ahlen will be released in English on August 10, 2022.
An enchanting story for a lazy afternoon – to think and reflect. Immerse yourself in an environment of fairy tales and fantasy, with exclusive art.
Fatal accidents don’t usually happen in fairy tales….
When a young woman drowns in a garden pond in a small town in Germany, Gerd is very worried. He reproaches himself for not having visited his widowed neighbor more frequently, in whose fairy tale garden the accident occurred. Despite his own problems, he offers her his help. Will they find out what happened to the young woman? And can Gerd’s wife help them, or is she just spinning her own fairy tale?