Author Interview with Nina Hanefeld
Nina Hanefeld is a writer, counsellor, and part-time teacher. For almost 15 years, she has been educating about menstruation, contraception, and health. The facilitation of supportive knowledge in these (and other) topics is of utmost importance to her. You can find out more about Nina via her website, or by following her on Instagram.
Can you tell us a little about yourself as a writer?
When people ask me what I write, I tend to answer, “Everything!” And while that is true, some years ago, I decided my main focus would be non-fiction. But, it turns out, creativity does not care about decisions like that, so my first published book was a mix of both non-fiction and fiction.
Knowledge is the “red thread” of my non-fiction writing, especially when it comes to topics traditionally considered taboo. I write primarily on the menstrual cycle, periods, contraception, and sexuality. Knowledge of these topics completely changes how we experience them.
My first book is about first menstruation and puberty. Menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation) is still often met with fear and other uncomfortable feelings, but with knowledge of how to cope with the changes happening during puberty, it is easier to have a positive, or at least neutral, experience.
With very little education about these topics widely available, shining a light on the subject was what drove me as a writer.
What publishing route did you choose, and why?
When my first book neared the stage where I had to think about publishing, I took self-publishing into serious consideration. I thought that a topic like menarche would have no chance at traditional publication. But a friend who knew more about the publishing industry than I did encouraged me to research possible publishers and just give it a try (in Germany, it is still common to publish books traditionally without an agent).
In the end, I decided to send the manuscript to five publishers. Two sent me very kind letters of rejection, two did not react at all, and one… accepted my book!
But even with this positive experience with traditional publishing, I’m still considering self-publication for some of my future projects. I am specifically thinking about poetry collections, as I like the creative freedom that self-publishing brings, without being forced to make them “fit“ a certain style.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In primary school, we used to have something called ‘author hour’, where every student could read stories that they had written out loud to the whole class. This was such a positive experience that it awakened in me the wish to become an author.
I must admit that I don’t actively remember this moment, but it must have left an impression as I found a note I wrote at the time, which said just that! Somehow, I lost that dream along the way, probably because I thought it was an unrealistic dream, or wouldn’t be a viable career path. But somewhere in the last years, and with the support of two mentors who were there with me through the whole process, I realised that I was already a writer because I was already writing! With this realisation, I made my child’s dream a reality.
What is your writing routine?
I don’t have a set writing routine, apart from starting and ending almost every day with writing. My favourite time to write is at night, but that isn’t always practical if I have obligations during the day.
My day starts with some short morning pages and ends with some very short evening notes. I have been doing this since 2021, and I love the practice. It’s really become part of my day.
I try to use any time to write that offers itself up during the day, so I almost always have a notebook and pen with me. Every day of my week is very different, so the time I get to write is also very different.
Over the last year, I have gotten better at using the pockets of time that the day offers. I no longer feel that the stars have to align perfectly for me to be able to sit down and get the words out. I do believe in comfort while writing, however, so I have certain spots in my flat where I can just sit down and feel comfortable while writing.
Do you have any writing quirks?
I have always liked different ways to write, so when I was a teenager, I taught myself shorthand and Sütterlin, which is a very old-fashioned cursive. I also trained myself to be able to write with my left hand. Later, when I worked with children who were usually sitting opposite me, I discovered that I enjoy writing upside down. These quirks are a good way to do a kind of writing warm-up.
How do you find your inspiration?
When I was a teenager, I was convinced that I was only able to write when I was sad. Later I found out that the opposite is true, and the better I take care of myself and the more grounded I am, the more inspired I am. So it is not me finding inspiration, but putting myself in the right headspace for inspiration to find me!
Sometimes I feel like there are too many ideas to write about, but it is also nice to always be able to hop into different writing projects if I want to.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in the process of writing?
A book is not truly finished until you hold it in your hands. So many times, I thought I was finished, but was ultimately confronted with the next step in the process.
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is honest and doesn’t try to sell itself as something it isn’t. This takes courage because I think a lot of writers (me included) do not feel like they, or their writing, are good enough. So to let a story be only what it wants to be and not to put anything extra in it can sometimes feel like a challenge.
Where can people find your books?
My book is sold in Germany and Greece and is available to order in bookstores. It is also available directly through my publisher, Stadelmann, and online via Shop Kulmine where I also write for their blog and social media.
If you’re a Novlr writer who has published a book, we’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to tell us about your work and share your writing journey with us, please email [email protected].