Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am an award-winning author, German-born and Paris-educated. I used to translate books and work as a cultural journalist in Paris. After falling in love with an American in Paris, also a writer, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. 5 books have been published in the States, a few in Germany, most successfully my photo biography “Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures” (Algonquin) and “True Secrets of Lesbian Desire” (North Atlantic). I am still writing cultural reviews and blogs (Huffington Post, Scene4 Magazine, Epochalips, etc.)
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Kiss Me Again, Paris” (IFSF Publishing, 2017) is a memoir of my youth in Paris at the end of the 70s, when Parisian women were most liberated and empowered, both intellectually and sexually. In the American climate of today, evoking this freedom that women once upon a time acquired, seemed an important political act of memory and inspiration.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I can write at any time of the day or the night, but my best writing used to happen in cafés. Parisian cafés! It took me a long time to find a café in San Francisco that could stand in.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Great women writers of the past, like Gertrude Stein or George Elliott. And certain classic books by Stendhal, Lampedusa and Thomas Mann (“Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man”). Contemporary authors like Rachel Cusk, Anne Carson and Maggie Nelson.
What are you working on now?
Promoting “Kiss Me Again, Paris” and writing short pieces for magazines and blogs.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am proud of my website renatestendhal.com, my monthly newsletter, and FB, where I have a big fan page.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Be careful to whom you show your manuscript: you don’t need a flurry of readers — just one who really understands writing and knows who you are and what you are after.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
From my lover, Kim Chernin, who is a writer and also editor, I learned that for a writing discipline, stopping on time is as important as a beginning time.
What are you reading now?
John Le Carré’s autobiography “The Pigeon Tunnel” and the latest book by Marilyn Yalom, “The Amorous Heart.”
What’s next for you as a writer?
A memoir about growing up in Germany after the Berlin Blockade.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
“Anna Karenina,” Rilke’s Collected Poems, Lampedusa’s “The Leopard,” Amor Towles’ “A Gentleman in Moscow”