Theresa Herzog - Never Give Up On Your Dreams (Author & Photographer)



I remain constantly fascinated by life, the good and the bad, and how people rise to the challenges or fail to do so. Resilience is a recurring theme in my writing, but so is evil and depravity, the inexplicable need to exploit others for the benefit of the few.


1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

I was born in the Philippines, raised in Kenya and Mexico, did my university studies in the Philippines before moving to Germany, India, and Thailand over the subsequent 25 years. I am currently settled in Berlin, where I live, write and photograph. Languages have always been part of my ability to adapt and inculturate, so I speak four languages fluently (English, German, Spanish and Filipino) and three others where I can get by but would not be deemed suitable for work or business! 

I dedicated 15 years of my life to development cooperation in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Germany. Taking the principles of “preferential option for the poor” inculcated into us from the Jesuit university I attended, this has been a guiding principle. Over the years as relocation to different countries took me away from development work, I remained committed to social justice through my writing and photography, which is what lies at the core of my life and persona at the moment. I am what you would call a literary activist, writing fiction around pressing social issues and taboos in order to generate a greater public awareness and commitment to the cause. 

Some people think out loud, others run to friends and support groups. I write and photograph. Plato defined the soul as having three components: logos, thymus, and eros (reason, temper and desire). These are the fundamental pillars of the moment and justification for pressing the shutter or tapping away at my keyboard. The reason for wanting to recreate the moment, the temper governing your soul at the moment, and the desire to create something intimately personal all converge into the right moment and your soul knows it, not the eye. James Hillman argues that the soul converts life into experiences that are communicated in love, faith, and death. By this precept, therefore, soul photography and writing do not simply capture an event , but instead communicates the human role in the universe of intangible emotions.

I stand by my personal mission statement that writing and photography are part and parcel of who I am, not an extension and not a skill learned for some final exam or certification. It is as human to me as it is spiritual, full of imperfections and with a pursuit of equilibrium, never technical perfection. My work is a dichotomy of selfishness and selflessness that seek depth in interwoven light and shadows. 




2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing all my life, beginning with poetry and then branching in short stories in my youth, and finally books after I turned 45, following an extended interlude as a literary translator. I am curious about human behaviour, situations, conditions, perceptions, and want to know what drives them, what motivates them to act and react the way they do. Being a writer integrates my passions for psychology and journalism, and allows me to weave fictional stories around real people. I have a fascination for psychothrillers, which is why I am a crime writer / suspense thriller. Writing romances was a childhood fantasy that I quickly outgrew when I became a development worker and came face-to-face with some very harsh realities. 




3. Is writing a financially stable career? 

What many non-writers tend to overlook or fail to understand is that there is a huge difference between being a writer and an author. Anyone can be an author, and you don’t even have to be talented to be one, because there is a huge community of ghostwriters out there who will do the job for you. But being a writer is a calling, it is something you commit to doing because your soul craves to weave the words and worlds together. You become a writer for the sake of writing and sharing your work but not for the financial gain. 

Publishing is an arduous and treacherous world where you have to be prepared to be rejected over and over again and it will take years before you gain acceptance by a publisher, even then that is absolutely no guarantee that your books will sell at all. This is the dirty little secret nobody tells you as a newbie writer eager to publish your first book. So no, being a writer is in no way financially sustainable and requires having a day job constantly. 




4. Who is your favourite writer and why?

I have been influenced by so many writers over the years, both by their ability to construct a fantastic tale that keeps you at the edge of your seat, and also for their insight into human psyche - Val McDermid, Tess Gerritsen, Steve Berry, Ken Follet, Colleen McCollough and Isabel Allende are definitely at the top of my list, Why them? 

Because I value the sheer amount of research they put into each and every book, not just for the social, political and historical backdrops, but also the psychological aspects in the character development. There is nothing unsubstantial or shallow about the characters in their books, and the complexity of human behaviour comes shining through each and every time. 




5. Where does your inspiration lie?

Life. It’s as simple as that. I remain constantly fascinated by life, the good and the bad, and how people rise to the challenges or fail to do so. Resilience is a recurring theme in my writing, but so is evil and depravity, the inexplicable need to exploit others for the benefit of the few. 

Human trafficking is at the core of my literary advocacy and I will continue to pursue this and remain committed to the cause for the rest of my life. Much of my writing is based on personal experience, and I think this is important in order to provide depth and authenticity to the story. There are certain nuances and emotions that only one who has undergone that particular experience will be able to understand or describe. 





6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring writers?
  1. Write something everyday and don’t be afraid to share it, ask for advice and constantly seek advice. 
  2. Find a mentor who will not only guide you but also take you out of your comfort zone 
  3. Collaborate with a good editor. 
  4. Don’t give up your day job 
  5. Never give up on your dreams and aspirations to becoming a published writer. 
  6. Be a writer always, become an author eventually, when you are ready. 

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

At the risk off self-promotion I have to say that my own book Wings At Dawn is my favourite, not only because it was my debut novel but because it was a gift and a promise to my mother. She slipped into a coma moments after I told her that I had finally finished writing the manuscript and it was due for publication. Sadly she passed away before she could hold the book in her hands. So I am emotionally attached to it, the story, the setting (India), but most of all the characters, whom I consider extensions of myself. Everything I included in Wings At Dawn, were part of my 12 years of living in India.




Theresa Herzog (Author & Photographer)


I like to summarise my life journey as follows: 
Political Scientist by training,
Development Worker by fate, 
Translator by circumstance, 
Writer by passion 
Photographer by soul. 

I was born in the Philippines, raised in Kenya and Mexico, did my university studies in the Philippines before moving to Germany, India, and Thailand over the subsequent 25 years. I am currently settled in Berlin, where I live, write and photograph. Languages have always been part of my ability to adapt and inculturate, so I speak four languages fluently (English, German, Spanish and Filipino) and three others where I can get by but would not be deemed suitable for work or business! 



 - Website: Theresa Herzog


 - Blogs: Theresa Herzog
  
               Theresa Herzog



 - Instagram: Theresa Herzog  


- Interviewed By Pratibha Sahani

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