Outside the U.S., Thirteen Reasons Why has sold more copies in Germany than any other country. There, it's called Tote Mädchen Lügen Nicht, or Dead Girls Don't Lie. It's been a bestseller there, and was nominated for their big national teen book award. Dang that Tödliche Spiele! (Which you may know as The Hunger Games.)
So when I was asked to speak at a literature festival in Hamburg, of course I said "Yes! Yes" And to make sure they understood, I added, "Ja! Ja!"
But I wasn't going to hop on a 1-hour flight, followed by a 10-hour flight, followed by a 1-hour flight, for one day of speaking. So my publisher set up some cool events in some other cool cities with a couple of cool speakers to help me out.
First up was the Schlosspark Theater in Berlin, where 520 pupils (which, apparently, is different than students) came from nearby schools. No, pupils in Germany aren't camera-shy. I took this photo while a someone was asking a question from the back of the room.
After that presentation, I signed copies of both Tote Mädchen Lügen Nicht and Wir Beide, Iirgendwann. My German publisher loves changing the titles of my books. There, the translated title of The Future of Us means something along the lines of Both of Us, Someday.
After a taxi tour of the up-and-down history of Berlin, we caught a train and headed for Rostock.
Here are my travel mates, Judith Hoersch, Marc Langebeck, and Katharina Göring. Judith, a singer and actress, is the voice of Emma in the audiobook of Wir Beide, Irgendwann. Marc, the host of a children's literature TV show, interviewed me at each stop. He also did a wonderful job of translating what I said for the audience, and translating their questions for me. And Katharina works with publicity at my German publishing house.
Before speaking in Rostock, I had the chance to visit Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church). It was beautiful inside, with a huge pipe organ. 5,700 pipes!
That night, we spoke at a bookstore chain called Thalia. It was at this stop, while reading to the audience, my eyes went crazy and the words turned to smudges. And that meant, when I got back to the States, it was time to see the eye doctor. No more excuses!
Thankfully, I had my e-reader with me, so during our next stop at Thalia in Stade, I was able to adjust the font and make it huge so I could read the words.
Here's Judith beginning to read one of the chapters. (Notice that she's smart enough to know she needs glasses.)
To back up the chronology a bit, when we had lunch in Berlin, our driver ordered wiener schnitzel. When he ordered it, he asked if I knew what it was. I told him that I did, because we have a fast food chain in the States called Wienerschnitzel. But what the waitress brought out looked nothing like what a hot dog!
(That's the last time I trust a fast food chain to teach me about foreign cuisine.)
So for two of my following meals, I ate actual wiener schnitzel. It was good! But I did get made fun of for smearing my cranberry sauce all over the top. I guess you're supposed to dip it.
Dip it? We don't dip in America. We smear!
Finally, in Hamburg, we arrived at the Harbour Front Literature Festival.
Judith, LeVar...I mean...Marc, and I spoke in an auditorium full of students...I mean...pupils.
Then I had a photoshoot with Gunter Glücklich. He was very fun to speak with between (and sometimes, during) shots. I can't wait to see what how the photos turn out!
By this time, Katharina left, and Verena Otto took over for the publisher. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos with Verena. But she was kind enough to take this shot at Friedrich Ebert Gymnasium (High School).
This school is a famous place in the history of music. It's where the Beatles first recorded, as the backing band for Tony Sheridan.
And this is the stage where it happened!
With my authorly duties over, I spent a day in Hamburg doing my touristy duties. My favorite stop was Miniatur Wonderland (which translates, roughly, to Miniature Wonderland). They had an amazing special exhibit showing the history of Berlin, recreating one intersection over several decades. The scenes show the rebuilding of Berlin after World War II, various stages of the Berlin Wall, and the celebration as the wall came down. Below is a close-up of the destruction during World War II.
Here's a shot of a miniature music festival, including the ever-present outhouses.
To get a good view of Hamburg, I walked up the tower stairs of St. Michaelis Kirche (Church of St. Michael).
That evening, there was live music in various locations around Hamburg, including St. Michaelis. Beneath the church, in the crypt, they served coffee and waffles. And who am I to say no to that German hospitality?
The next morning, I took the long journey back home. I watched a couple in-flight movies. I took a few naps. I read from a few books.
And when I got home, I read a few more books to Isaiah before bedtime.
(Thankfully, the letters in his books didn't need adjusting for my eyes.)