“There is a slight tension in the air.” This is how the Salzburg writer Katharina J. Ferner describes her mood in view of the reading competition for the Bachmann Prize starting on June 16. The fact that Limbus-Verlag, in which her novel “The Beginning” was published in 2020 and the volume of poetry “only once to fly agaric for breakfast” appeared in 2020, submitted one of her texts for the reading competition, was “a logical step” for her, says Also in conversation with the APA.
“I had the feeling that I had a suitable text.” The feeling gave her right, juror Brigitte Schwens-Harrant invited the author, born in 1991, to the competition. “The most exciting thing for me was who was still there,” says Ferner. “It’s incredibly nice to have this chance, especially after the year of idle. But in the end, when I write, it’s always about the writing and not about any awards.”
The Salzburg native began writing during her time at the Musisches Gymnasium, where she had made literature as her main focus. At 17 she attended the Rauris Literature Days with her class and soaked up this atmosphere. In her conversations with the authors present there, her wish to become a full-time writer became more concrete. Her first successes proved her right: in 2009 she won the Salzburg Prize “We read our mouths sore” for texts written by her.
After graduating from high school, Ferner went to Vienna and studied Slavic Studies. At first she tried German studies, but quickly realized that she found the subject less exciting. “Slavonic studies opened up more new things for me,” she says. It was not only the linguistic look outside the box, but also the immersion in the literature of these countries that shaped them back then. “That is outside the canon of what you usually read here.”
The Salzburg native, who has meanwhile returned to her hometown, travels a lot. Scholarships or stays as a city clerk – for example in Stuttgart – give her the opportunity to concentrate fully on writing. “I can’t be social if I get involved in a text,” says the author: “I then live in this story.” There is little space left for everyday life, for contacts with friends and family. She does not yet know which project she will devote herself intensively to next. There are several things that concern her, the decision on what to focus on has not yet been made. But: “I’m slowly finding my breath again for a novel.”
It is also versatile. She publishes poetry and prose; during the months of the lockdown, she and the photographer Mark Daniel Prohaska recorded literary street names in Salzburg with texts by contemporary authors in the project “Homeage”. The author writes blog posts on the “meinplan.at” platform, ranging from literature and culture tips to baking cakes. “It’s an additional channel for me. You reach a different audience. It’s amazing how much feedback I get.”
In the Salzburg edition of the “Kronen Zeitung” she has been publishing poetry every Saturday since the beginning of the year. In addition, she is committed to promoting reading and language skills in elementary schools and the Lungau cultural association. “It has everything to do with writing,” she says, referring to the common thread in her life.
She doesn’t want to reveal anything about her text for the Bachmann competition, which has since been recorded for online feed. “If you know my writing, you will find linguistic elements that I usually use.”