David Rice is a writer and animator based in New York, who spent a year studying in Berlin with the support of a DAAD Study Scholarship grant. His interests cluster around horror, noir, and the grotesque. He recently published his first novel, A Room in Dodge City, and just finished a second, Angel House, while also working on a feature film.
Our DAAD network is a vast and global net of connections between DAAD award winners, ambassadors, alumni, grant holders, future applicants – all united by their love for study and research abroad and all things German.
So we asked David a few questions about his work and experience in Germany:
- When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and animator?
I’ve always had the sense that I wanted to tell stories and build mini-worlds for them to take place in. I don’t have any memories that don’t include this feeling, even from my early childhood. I loved reading and hearing stories so much back then that it seemed only natural to want to tell them.
- What are you currently working on?
I’m trying to finish up a sequel to my first novel, and am gearing up to start a new animation, which is in some ways a sequel to one that I’ve just finished.
- What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had?
I spent a few days by myself in Bamberg one summer, visiting E.T.A. Hoffman’s house and just wandering around, having beer and coffee at outdoor cafes – being here felt somehow more German than living in Berlin.
- What advice would you give to students who are thinking of working in your field?
Make a lot of work and show a lot of people. This is really all it comes down to – don’t worry too much about the logistical side when you’re starting out. It’s much more important to build up a body of work and make sure you’re showing it to as many interested people as possible. Also, listen when people give you feedback, but don’t lose sight of your own sense of what the work should be.
- What advice would you give to students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?
Go for it! It’ll definitely be worthwhile. And if you want to speak German, you have to ask Germans not to speak English with you. They’ll happily oblige, but only if you ask.
- Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there in your office?
An Albert Einstein action figure, a brass head that shows the “four moods of the Buddha,” and a straw lion or dragon mask – it’s a slightly fantastical creature with huge fangs and beady red eyes.
- Can you cook a German meal without a recipe? If so, which one?
Probably not, though if I had some good German sausages I could manage to fry them up without ruining them. I can also make matzah-brei, which is an old-fashioned Jewish breakfast food.
- Do you have a favorite filmmaker or author? If so, who and why?
I have many, but one filmmaker whose work was especially important to my novel A Room in Dodge City is Fellini. His odd combination of tenderness and grotesquerie in the way he filmed small towns and raucous groupings of people — like pageants, processions, and circuses — was extremely important in thinking about how the group dynamics in the book (which is set in a small town) should work.
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