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Cover Esma Ahmedi (Esma Ahmedi), Photo: Achse Verlag

09.11.2021

Gay Storks

Children’s books are often boringly didactic and underestimate the intellectual ability of the next generation. Vienna’s Achse Verlag wants to change this and publishes picture books that deal with contemporary questions in an accessible way.

A further area of activity is the support of young female authors. The Bank Austria Salon is currently hosting a regular series of readings in which exciting projects are presented. Here, Teresa Mossbauer of Achse Verlag explains what these are all about and why you shouldn’t miss them.

Establishing a publishing house is a risk. Which niche have you discovered?

Our publishing house, which was founded in 2017, actually emerged out of an art project. We take care to have a lot of female authors on our list. A feminist background is important to us and for the past year we’ve particularly specialised in picture books for children.

Do you have any concrete examples?

Last year we had a very successful title: "Lina, die Entdeckerin" (Lina, the Explorer) is a picture book about the vulva. Little Lina sets off on a voyage of discovery of her own body – free of uncertainties and taboos.

Cover Emotionaler Leerstand im privaten Eigentum (Lena Johanna Hödl), Photo: Achse Verlag

Messages that don’t point any fingers

So you want to make current issues more tangible to children?

We want to create contemporary children’s literature with a social aspiration. It’s important to us that our approach is level-headed and that we get messages across without pointing any fingers. We’ll soon publish a book about a pair of gay storks that raise a child in a zoo. "Papa Storch" (Papa Stork) is based on a true story about two gay penguins who adopted an egg. The picture book by Paloma Schreiber addresses homosexual parenting and adoption in a very child-friendly manner. The author has also included biological background facts about birds and their breeding behaviour. And the sex education book "Erbsenklein Melonengroß" (Small as a Pea, Big as a Melon) attaches particular importance to gender sensitivity.

A further focus is women’s literature. Why is this important to you?

In the publishing business, men continue to win prizes, appear more often in public and receive larger advances for their books from well-known publishers. We want to offer female authors a place to present themselves and try things out in order to maybe also create something new.

How do you find interesting young female authors?

In lots of different ways. Mostly via personal contacts, but we’re always delighted when texts are sent to us.

A biography based on love affairs

You have a series of readings in the Bank Austria Salon. What’s next on the programme?

We set up this series of readings to turn the spotlight onto women who write. The authors Lena Johanna Hödl and Esma Ahmedi are appearing on 15th November. Lena is a former slam poet and a fantastic stage performer. We published her book "Emotionaler Leerstand im privaten Eigentum" (Emotional Vacancy in Private Property) in 2020 and it’s already in its third edition. The book is a form of biography built around her love affairs. Esma is a very young author, who also comes from the poetry slam scene. She writes experimental short verse that is melancholic and cool and addresses taste, colour and other sensory impressions.

There’s another session in December. Can you tell us something about that?

On 21st December, the author Lisa Bolyos and the photographer Carolina Frank will present their book "Mich hat nicht gewundert, dass sie auf Mädchen steht" (I wasn’t surprised that she fancies girls). This contains 18 portraits of parents who have queer children. What is it like for parents when their children tell them that they’re homosexual, trans, inter or non-binary?