Eastern New Mexico University assistant professor Stefan Kiesbye’s novel, “Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone,” was a Top 10 pick in the October issue of Oprah Magazine.
Kiesbye, a native of northern Germany, has been writing professionally for 20 years and teaching for 12.
His haunting novel is about four children, who narrate the novel, growing up in a small northern Germany village.
Kiesbye said in order for the children to survive, they can’t play nice.
“They have to use dirty methods to stay alive and protect the people the care about,” Kiesbye said. “It’s dark and sinister. Every imaginable sin you could think about is in this book.”
The PNT asked Kiesbye 10 questions:
Why did you title the book, “Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone”?
The title goes back to Mother Goose and the nursery rhyme. Since the book plays a lot with legends and fairy tales, that was the perfect title for the book. It’s horrifying and yet soothing at the same time.
Where were you when you found out you made Oprah’s Top 10 list and what was your reaction?
My editor sent me the PDF of the page and I was at my computer at home. I was just stunned and happy. It was beautiful. I went to Hastings in Clovis to get her magazine.
Who is your target audience?
It’s funny because Amazon says 18 and up and I’m not sure if it’s good for children to read. While it’s pretty horrifying, it’s not graphic. It’s narrated in a very sober tone. Sometimes you don’t catch what happens until you think about it. It’s for the imaginative reader who enjoys a good story. It makes you feel shocked and cozy at the same time.
What about your novel do you feel is most captivating?
What I really love about it is the mixture of the domestic and mundane with the fairy tale horror on the other side.
How old were you when you wrote your first book and what was it about?
I was 3 or 4 years old and it was a mystery novel, but the only thing I really remember is a train going by. It’s dark in the middle of nowhere on these deserted train tracks and this train appears.
Since your novel has a haunting theme, what’s your favorite scary movie?
“The Mummy.” It’s not a horror movie per say, but there are some chilling moments. It’s one of my favorite movies. It’s cheesy and it plays it all out.
What remedy do you have to cure writer’s block?
You should never talk about writer’s block. It’s like talking about ghosts. I’m superstitious that way. I think talking about it is an invitation to have one.
Do you watch or read anything Oprah?
Not a whole lot, usually just YouTube clips, like Tom Cruise jumping on her sofa. I don’t own a television.
If you could pick any show to be a featured guest on to talk about your book, what show would that be?
I would like to be on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, an NPR show. I’ve been listening to that for years and that would be so cool.
What is your next project?
Again, I’m superstitious. You don’t talk about unfinished projects.