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Fiction Kitchen Berlin is more than just a reservoir of beautiful flash fiction. We want to get to know the people behind the great work that comes our way, those pieces that make it on our menu. Today we are opening the Kitchen to D.I. Jolly, who hails originally from South Africa, but is currently living in Berlin. His horror inspired work, Drowning, appeared in the Kitchen in March 2020 and was also featured in our first bi-annual journal.

Hi D.I. Jolly and welcome to the Kitchen! These are strange times we are living through at the moment… what keeps you motivated?

It has been a lot weirder than I expected. Back in March, I went to go visit my mother who lives in South Africa. A nice relaxing two-week family holiday – or so I thought. Almost five months later, I finally got back to Berlin. As for motivation, I found myself a lot more isolated than expected and writing has always been more of a private pastime for me so I could really dig in while alone. Also, there wasn’t anything else to do. Usually though I set myself deadlines, either personally or socially so that other people are holding me accountable and that works to keep me writing.

Are you a full-time writer?

Sadly, no not yet. While I do write a lot, I still rely on a job to pay for food, rent, and alcohol.

Why Berlin? What impact has living here had on your writing?

I’ve had friends here since I was a teenager. I’d visited them and the city a number of times, and had always loved it. Then around my thirtieth birthday, I was dissatisfied with where I was living and my job at the time and thought “if not now then when?”, and made the decision to move. I like the vibrancy of the city, the options of things to do and see, also it’s a nice hub for travel.

As for writing, just seeing more and experiencing the culture of Berlin, it’s hard for it not to affect my writing. The more you know the more you can write about after all.

In addition to writing flash fiction, you have also published a book, ‘Mostly Human’. Please tell us more about this.

Mostly Human is the coming of age story of Alex Harris as he grows from charming child to world famous rock star, while also hiding the fact that when he was ten years old he was bitten by a werewolf.

For the record, I also have two other novels publish, A guy, a girl and a voodoo monkey hand, and Counting Sheep & Other Stories.

Do you have any other projects in the works right now?

I just finished writing ‘Mostly Human 2’; it’s with my publisher at the moment. I’ve got a couple ideas for new novels but I haven’t actually sat down with them yet.

I also host a small writing event on Mondays called the Poetry Club. There we write short stories, poems, and songs, anything really, based on the topic of the week. So, I’m always writing for that. 

Self-publishing or traditional publishing… what are thoughts?

It’s an interesting question for sure, and while I do love the idea of traditional publishing – and the audience potential – I can’t knock the accessibility of self-publishing. It could mean that average quality drops as anyone can publish pretty much anything, but it also means that real diamonds, the ones that would never have seen the light of day, can be given a chance as well, and really, I think that far outweighs the bad.

Personally, my books are published by a small independent publishing house, and while I would love to be able to lean back into the machine of a big traditional house, I am just happy that my work is out there in the world.

Tell us a little about your writing process. For instance, are you one of those writers that plans everything from the start, or do you make it up as you go along?

I start with an idea, a scenario that I like. I think to myself, ‘how did these characters get to this situation?’ And then I track it back in my mind to where I feel the story starts. I start writing from there. I usually have points that I want to reach but I don’t plot out everything in advance. I come to it while writing. 

One (living/dead/undead) author you would like to meet for a drink? What burning question would you ask?

That’s a very interesting question, I don’t know. Maybe Mary Shelly, and ask about the circumstances in which Frankenstein was written and how long she’d actually been holding onto the idea.

If you could step into any story and live there – which one would it be? And Why?

I like the Star Wars universe, because even if you’re not a Force sensitive Jedi/Sith you can still be a charming scruffy smuggler and a hero really. Plus, wizards…. in… spaaaaaaaaaaace! It seems like a fun place.

What’s out there in your future? 

Keep writing, continue to put my stories out in the world for people to read and see what happens next. I’ve never been the person who makes long-term plans really – and even less so these days. I would like to see my writing reach a larger audience though, and of course I’d love to be able to write full-time and not need to rely on a day job.

Ok, I think that just about wraps it up! Thank you again for taking the time to talk to us. Maybe just one last question: What would happen if a werewolf were to land on the moon?

I’ve always looked at the moon werewolf connections in terms of the moon’s affect on the tides in our brains, so presumably nothing or depending on the phase of the earth in relation to the moon.

D.I. Jolly moved to Berlin four years ago to pursue his love for living in a city and continue his childhood dream of being a writer. With three published novels and one short story anthology under his belt, he continues to fight the stigma that all writers drink whisky.


Covers by Tom Kyffin // Portrait Photo by Ted Titus


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