Friday, January 27, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: Kate Mueser


New year, new interview series! Looking forward into 2023, I have decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Kate Mueser. Kate was going to become a concert pianist, but instead became a bilingual storyteller with a penchant for music. She spent over a decade working for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, where she reported and presented an award-winning documentary feature on the future of the book and hosted a TV show on German pop music, her own web video series, and a youth radio show. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Modern European Studies from Columbia University. A California native, she has spent nearly her entire adult life in Germany, with brief interruptions in New York City and Las Vegas. The Girl with Twenty Fingers is Kate’s debut novel. It was was largely written while she was pregnant with her twins, during her toddler’s naps. You can find her at 

Why do you write?

 To quote from my debut novel, THE GIRL WITH TWENTY FINGERS, I write because “there is meaning outside of words, but not without them.”


What do you do when youre not writing?

 You’ll find me blowing bubbles at the playground with my three young children.


Whats the best money youve ever spent as a writer?

 I hired David Imrie from to do development edits on my first two novels.


Describe your book poorly.

 A girl loves ___, then hates it, then loves it again.

 In the book, music fills in the blank. But I bet you could fill it in with a lot of other things from your own life.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

 I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.


Whats the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

 Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is genius.


What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life?

 My novel is centered around Mozart’s music, but I envisioned the book orally and it interweaves music from a broad spectrum. A soundtrack to the book will be published online as well. When it comes to my own life, here are a few musical selections that bring back memories:

 The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

JS Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in D Minor BWV 1052

Johannes Brahms’s Intermezzo Op. 118, No. 2

Use Somebody by Kings of Leon

Wordplay by Jason Mraz


Whats the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

 You cannot become anything you want, because there will always be someone better than you.


What scares you the most?

 Not being good enough.


Are you a book hoarder or a book unhauler?

 Unhauler. Back when Amazon just did books (that makes me feel old!), I would buy all my books used and then sell them again. I hate clutter and I only read books once. Now I only buy eBooks.


Sarah’s hope of becoming a concert pianist was shattered when she bombed an important performance of a Mozart concerto. Now in Munich, she feels like an imposter in her job as a food magazine editor. A chance encounter in a music shop leads to a surprising friendship with an elderly widower with a unique grand piano. When they start meeting to play Mozart’s works for four hands, Sarah unravels the mysteries of his war-time past, uproots a musical secret in her own family — and finds the strength to redirect her own future.

Laced with melodies from Mozart and Schumann to Toto and Nena, The Girl with Twenty Fingers will delight readers, while asking the question: Can music change lives? Kate Mueser’s debut novel cracks open notions of failure and second chances, living to the fullest and dying without regrets, and cultural identity and privilege, making it both timeless and urgently relevant to our age.

Buy the book here:

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