Editor’s note: This interview has been translated from German. Click here to view the original interview.
In this interview series, we introduce literary freelancers. Whether author, translator, editor or event organizer: Each and every one has made their way into freelancing. What was it like for you, Isobel Markus?
Introduce yourself briefly: Who are you and what do you do in the literary industry?
I am Isobel Markus, I live in Berlin as a free author and write for the berliner szenen-column in the taz-newspaper, among other things. Last year, my book Stadt der ausgefallenen Leuchtbuchstaben was published by Quintus-Verlag and my debut novel Der Satz has also just come out there.
Adding to this, I organise a regular salon-evening called Berlin Salonage in the Lettrétage. The Berlin Salonage combines the tradition of the historic Berlin Salons with contemporary art, offers a thematic stage to well-known and as yet completely unknown artists of various directions, where they present their latest works and we enter into an exchange with the audience. I am very happy that my six-part series of events Frauenart – back, now & then will be funded by the Berlin Senate in the context of their Spartenoffene Förderung.
What was the biggest challenge at the start of your career?
My biggest challenge was to find a way to publish or present my works. At a relatively early stage, I had two children. Besides my studies in English/American Studies and Library Science and the countless bread-and-butter jobs, I have always been writing. But I didn’t know how or where to start to make my texts and stories accessible to readers.
Bit by bit, my short stories were published in anthologies thanks to some literary competitions and I had the opportunity to publish miniatures in the taz. Still there was a lack of performance opportunities, which I therefore wanted to make possible for other artists with my idea of bringing the Berlin Salonage to life.
What has been the most important realization in your career up to this point?
My most important realization was how essential it is to link with other people, to work on your professional networks, to show solidarity with other artists and to support each other mutually. The realization that there are many of us and that we all have to deal with the same structural problems in the cultural industry is still my top priority today, besides the personal realization that I no longer want to be afraid of new situations.
What advice would you give to people starting out in your field of work?
Believe in yourself and your idea, don’t be afraid and trust yourself and others, don’t give up, band together in networks, take advice and inspiration from your colleagues, be open to detours, but still do not completely lose sight of your actual goal and – very importantly, because it can be difficult sometimes – don’t get discouraged (at least not for long). Just keep on and stay true to yourself. It will be alright!
Isobel Markus has studied Anglistics and Library Science at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She is an independent author and takes part in art and photography projects. Her short stories were published in literary magazines and anthologies as well as translated into Arabic. She writes for the berliner szenen-column in the taz-newspaper. In August 2021 her book Stadt der ausgefallenen Leuchtbuchstaben was published by Quintus-Verlag and in February 2022, her novel Der Satz followed. Besides, she organises regular salon-evenings called Berlin Salonage in the Lettrétage.
Image in header: © Nathalie Claude