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We finally caught up with Laurie Theurer, author of Swisstory, to find out more and host a competition to win a copy! This new book is an entertaining illustrated history of Switzerland for all ages 9 to 99.

What prompted you to do this book?
I first approached Richard Harvell at Bergli Books with the idea for a game about Switzerland. We met to discuss the possibilities and it became fairly quickly apparent that my talents did not lie in game design, but rather in researching and writing about history. After a few tries and invaluable input from Richard, we found the heart of this book together.

What is Swisstory about?
When most people think of Switzerland, images of chocolates, cheese, Heidi, William Tell, banks, and yodelers come to mind. There are volumes and volumes of books that detail the horrors of European history in general, but Switzerland – even though it’s in the center of Europe – is not typically included in those horrific tales. In truth, Swiss history is just as bloody as the rest of Europe… and in some cases even bloodier. Swisstory: The Untold, Bloody, and Absolutely Real History of Switzerland is about just that. History is brutal… and Swiss history is no exception.

What was the biggest obstacle you came across when choosing or writing the book?
I think the biggest obstacle was in finding out what exactly this book wanted to be. Richard Harvell and I discussed multiple ideas that I could pursue, as well as a myriad of voices that could tell the story we wanted to tell. I sent many, many, many drafts to Richard and reviewed his notes until we finally found the right formula. Only then could I set about producing the twenty chapters that make up the book

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Have you been working on this idea forever, or was it something that came to you recently?
I’ve been actively writing since 2012 – primarily flash fiction, poetry, and children’s literature – but I didn’t ever guess that I would become active in researching and writing about history. I’m not a historian, but the more I read about Swiss history, the more I enjoyed learning about it. The more I learned about it, the more potential I saw for using humor that would make history more accessible and enjoyable for kids. Of course, I have to thank Richard, who saw the potential long before I did, convinced me to give it a go, and did not give up on me while I produced draft after draft.

Are you going to do another edition or a follow up?
I am currently considering writing about other aspects of Switzerland and am hopeful for another collaboration with Bergli Books.

What are your future plans?
Writing is unfortunately not my day job, so I plan to continue writing as much as I possibly can between all my other commitments. As I said, I’d love to work on additional Switzerland-specific projects with Bergli Books. I also have a long list of other writing projects I crave the time to work on, including picture books, middle grade, young adult, poetry, and flash fiction.

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Do you have a favorite chapter? 
I have a real soft spot for the chapter on William Tell. This is a legend that I think most children in the western world know to some extent, and many believe actually happened. Whether or not William Tell ever existed is a discussion for the historians, but there are too many inconsistencies in the story to ignore. I had a great deal of fun picking the inconsistencies apart and presenting them in a way that taunts the story without claiming it to be true or false. I also desperately wanted to present the story as a comic strip, which our amazing illustrator – Michael Meister – found a brilliant way to do. It’s by far my favorite chapter in the book and still makes me laugh every time.

competitionbutton1As a special gift, Bergli Books is offering one lucky knowitall.ch reader a copy of Swisstory. Just fill in this form and let us know: Which chapter is Laurie's favorite?

Only one entry per email is allowed. The competition closes at midnight on Thursday, 2 April 2020. The names of all those submitting correct answers will be placed into the digital hat and the winner's names drawn at random on Friday, 3 April 2020. The winner will be notified by email and his/her name will be added to this article after the competition closes. Only valid for delivery to a Swiss address.

Laurie Theurer
published by Bergli Books

[UPDATE ON 06.04.2020 Payot are back online delivering for free. Click here for link.]

ISBN: 978-3-03869-082-5
Fr. 19.90/copy
220 pages in English version (a German version is also available)

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Congratulations to the winner of the Swisstory book prize:  S h i r l e y   T a n