Stefanie Koch at a glance
Chasing a writing dream
Creating stories from her own imagination was the tactic Stefanie Koch used as a child to hide her inability to read – due to an undiagnosed eye condition. But that handicap became the springboard to writing success later in life.
As a child, I had a special relationship with words, even before I could read or write. I had this gift to make up stories easily, stemming from my childhood struggle to read – I had an undiagnosed eye problem which made it hard to see clearly.
With my eyes misaligned and the condition undetected, I tried to conceal my inability to read correctly. To satisfy my parents, I would start reading but then create my own story from the first sentence. For a while, this gave the impression that I was reading fantastic tales but soon enough, my parents discovered that I was faking! My parents found this shocking and took me to a string of medical consultations and even psychologists.
As I grew up, I came to terms with my eye condition and learned to manage it. Surprisingly, for someone with an eye problem, I won all the reading competitions at school. I had developed a technique whereby one of my eyes read one part while the other eye followed through to the next phrase. By perfecting this technique, I started to read quickly and accurately.
My writing career started in France where I went for higher education. I encountered an intriguing set of people there that inspired me to invent stories about them. I wrote my first book at the age of 27. However, this 400-page novel – which I copied 30 times and sent to 30 publishers – was uniformly rejected by all of them! Fortunately, I had a technology career to fall back on and I started focusing on that.
“Seemingly ordinary incidences were transformed into gripping crime sequences with some creativity and imagination.”
Sometime later, I met an artist named Konrad Thurano, an intriguing man in his nineties. I found his story engaging and decided to write his biography. By this time, the publishing space had evolved. There were many agents connecting authors to the most appropriate publishing houses. An agent specializing in biographies secured a publishing deal for my work. Once this biography came out, they expressed an interest in seeing more work from me.
This was a turning point and I set upon creating a series of crime thrillers next. Seemingly ordinary incidences were transformed into gripping crime sequences with some creativity and imagination.
I even found myself embroiled in a real-life mystery when an apartment I was about to move into was found to contain a dead body! I almost had a brush with the police when (thanks to my imagination) my casual quip about a dead body being inside (even before the details came out!) was considered suspicious.
As usual, I used this incident as fodder to create another crime story. I now have six crime stories, three psychological thrillers and one medical thriller to my credit. I also have a romantic story which I wrote as part of an apprenticeship. My twelfth novel is set to be published in July 2018.
From my initial days of setbacks and rejections, I now navigate the publishing space much more skilfully. I also took advantage of the e-books platform, selling my book rights to an online publishing house. This was the perfect move since I was able to sell around 30k copies online within a few years in comparison to about 6k hard copies in 10 years.
Today, my books are easily available on Amazon and other sites. While I’ve had reasonable success, I haven’t quite ‘made’ it yet. That would be when I sell a million copies and have producers asking for movie rights to my novels! I still wait for that day!
Uncompromising on creativity
To manage my day job and writing career, I follow a strict routine where I write for two hours in the morning ahead of starting work. I’m a fast writer and if I’m in love with the storyline, I can complete a book within four months. Writing gives me happiness and I find immense satisfaction in immersing myself in this activity. I will not trade this happiness for anything.
Luckily, my day job and my writing career co-exist harmoniously. I’ve never thought of giving one up for another. I lead two lives, with one lending colour to the other. My day job gives me ideas, inspires me to create bold characters while keeping me in contact with accomplished teams and wonderful colleagues. In short, my work environment in TCS fuels my creativity as a writer.
A Superstar’s message to us all:
My message to all of you is to keep chasing your dreams, despite the challenges. Your challenge might be your opportunity – after all, my childhood handicap gave me my creativity. Nothing is impossible! Unleash yourself and you will be amazed at what you are capable of.