Jutta Heitland – So You Are Free

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is So You Are Free … Making it Home: Looking at Life.

I tell parts of my own experience as a foreigner. I am Austrian but grew up in Germany and always had the feeling of not completely belonging to Germany. Now I am living in New Zealand and here I met many migrants from different countries. And the interesting thing is that their feelings in New Zealand are similar to my feelings in Germany. It is the feeling of foreignness. Maybe the idea to write about it was always in me, but here in New Zealand I found the time and had the distance to my past. And I found out that those feelings of foreignness have actually not really to do with being a foreigner. It has to do with our personality and our view on life. So in my book I reflect on what it is that we need to find our place in life. I approach the issue by exploring aspects of life such as curiosity, envy, pressure, friendship, love and death. Using my own story as the starting point, the questions about life are then followed by interviews I conducted with twelve people from different countries. I wanted the abstract ideas in the first half be illustrated by practical examples and personal insights of other people.

Tell us something about yourself.

As I told before I am Austrian but have spent many years in Germany. Three years ago we moved to Wellington, New Zealand. And very soon we are leaving Wellington to move again to Germany. I don’t really like to move a lot but it is now part of my life and it shaped my personality.

I studied social work and pedagogy and I have worked more than 20 years as a social worker and pedagogue. This kind of work brings you very close to people and it also shaped my personality.

And I am married with two children, so I have – as most people – different fields of life.

Writing is a rather new field but it fits perfect in my timetable and I am happy that I discovered it for me.

What inspired you to write this book?

My book “So you are free … making it home” is a non-fiction book and it is something I thought about for a very long time. I think it is just natural to write down those thoughts which have preoccupied you for so long.

I think the idea to write about it was always in me, but here in New Zealand I just felt inspired and I found the time for writing. Yes, New Zealand is inspiration for me.

How did you choose the title?

The title “So you are free … making it home” came to me from a conversation I had with a New Zealand woman. I thought quite a while about this “So you are free …” and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. It was natural to choose it as title.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I completely believed in my message. Self-publishing was the easiest way to bring it on the market. I didn’t have trouble or difficulties with publishing my book. For me the whole publishing process was actually not too difficult.

My book is published in two languages, in German and English. The English version is on the market since February 2011, so it is pretty new. And I had to learn a lot since then. First of all I created a website, and then I told all relatives, friends and acquaintances that I have written a book. I registered myself on Twitter and Facebook, Book Marketing Network, Self-Publishing Review, Good Reads and more.

I think the real challenge is coming afterwards with promoting and marketing. You can write something outstanding but how would people know? You have to be convinced by your work no matter what people say and very persistent of course.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I have always scribbled short stories and notes but I seriously started writing in 2008, when we moved from Germany to New Zealand. And it is very likely that I never would have started writing without that move. My book “So You Are Free … Making it Home” is nonfiction and it is about feelings of foreignness. Through the move from Germany to New Zealand I realised that you can feel everywhere foreign or not. The idea to write about that phenomenon was born.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I actually don’t have a ritual or a creative process. I need to be in the right mood for writing, I don’t need a special motivation. Usually I just sit down and start to write.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I learned a lot about myself and that it is productive todevelop and write a book on a subject I am passionate about.And I learned that with uploading my book I was not done but the hard work will just begin. It is my task now to spread out the word and give readers the information about my book.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing, I would do it just in the same way.

What types of books do you like to read?

Well, I read all over the book shelves; I like historical fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies and novels. It really depends on my mood what I like to read. For me the writing style is the most important thing.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Right now I am busy with marketing and promoting of my first book “So You Are Free … Making it Home” which is very time consuming. My book was published in February 2011 and my plan is to give that book a good start.

Otherwise I also have started to write some short stories. My plan is to publish an anthology by the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I think it is important to start researching, marketing, and publicity before finishing the book. I would say: “If you are keen on writing, just do it! With endurance, patience and persistence it is possible to follow through.”

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

My book is about life, it is about growing and personal developments. I use my own story as the starting point and my questions about life are followed by interviews I conducted with twelve people from different countries. I worked on the question what we need to find our place in life and I think that this book will strike a chord with anyone on their own quest for answers. This book is also for people who moved a lot in their lives and have difficulties to name any place as their “home.”

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

More information about my book can be found on my website: