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Meet Cornelia Feye of Konstellation Press

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cornelia Feye.

Hi Cornelia, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I arrived in New York from Germany three decades ago with two suitcases and a typewriter. Since then, I’ve tried to combine my background as an art historian – I graduated from the University of Tübingen, Germany, with an M.A. in Art History and Anthropology – with my experiences traveling around the world for seven years, and my love for writing. In my twenties, I got a job on a cruise ship, which took me around the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey, Greece, Israel and Egypt. I took off from there and volunteered in a Kibbutz in the West Bank in Israel before living with the Bedouins in the Sinai on the Red Sea.

To escape the gray winters in Germany, I traveled overland to India to practice meditation in an Ashram, and discover Tibetan Buddhism in Kathmandu, Nepal. My first time in the America I traveled in a VW bus with three friends from Vancouver, Canada, down the West Coast through Baja and across to the Mexican mainland, through Acapulco to Mexico City.

Traveling in the 1970s and 80s meant no phone, no credit card, no camera. When I ran out of money, I had to find a job. I worked in a hotel as a waitress, cleaned house for an actor in Rome, drove a new Mercedes from the factory in Germany to Tehran, and worked crew on a sailboat between the Greek Islands. So I came to San Diego in a roundabout way via New York, Germany, India and the Middle East. My husband and I found San Diego and especially Ocean Beach a great place to live and raise our two sons, who were born here.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As a woman and first-generation immigrant, it was sometimes challenging to establish a career as a writer, publisher, teacher, and museum educator. English is not my first language. But overall, I found people welcoming and open-minded. Especially here in California, I felt free to invent myself in a way that feels authentic.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My many years on the road have found their way into my writing. I wrote four art mysteries and two short story anthologies and won two SD Book Awards. In order to share what I had learned as an independently published author, I founded Konstellation Press in 2016. We publish independent local authors with distinct and unconventional voices. Writers can submit their manuscripts without an agent, and we work with them to get their books ready for publication. We have established relationships with San Diego libraries and local bookstores such as La Playa Books, Mysterious Galaxy and Warwick’s, where we hold book signings and in-person events. Konstellation Press authors are represented at the SD airport bookstore, and we participate in Book fairs and conventions and collaborate with art and music venues. At Konstellation Press, we publish books and get them out into the universe.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
During the early months of the quarantine, after all the distractions and diversions of daily life fell away, I was able to finish my fourth mystery novel, Death of a Zen Master, set in a remote Zen monastery. I noticed the similarities between a Zen retreat and quarantine: living in isolation, sheltering in place, and living in the moment, because the future is so uncertain. A Zen retreat shares these three elements, with daily meditation thrown into the mix. Unlike a lock-down, however, a Zen retreat is usually voluntary. It is not so for Greg Stern, the main character in Death of a Zen Master. He is a reluctant guest in a remote and inaccessible Zen monastery in Northern California, sent there by his wife after a marital transgression to ponder and improve his interaction with women. When a dead body is found in the meditation hall, a group of eclectic guests and monastics find themselves trapped in an enchanted valley with a murderer in their midst and no way out.

Personally, I learned during the Covid 19 crisis that I need less than I thought: less possessions, distractions and entertainment. There is value in a quiet and simple life. I appreciated living close to the beach and having access to nature. More than before I realized that nature is my refuge and my sanctuary, where I feel truly myself.

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Image Credits

1. San Diego Festival of Books, with KP author Andrea Carter 2. Warwick’s Book signing, photograph by Glen Feye

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