DBF Interviews: Stefanie PreissnerPublished 20/10/2017
Munich-born but Mallow-raised, Stefanie Preissner is the creative mind behind the hit comedy-drama series Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope. Stefanie has also produced a series of short documentaries, How To Adult, with RTÉ Player, while her one-woman theatre show Solpadeine Is My Boyfriend enjoyed sell-out runs in Dublin before touring internationally and – as a radio play – it became RTÉ’s most downloaded podcast. Alongside her career as a screenwriter, playwright and actor, she is a regular contributor to Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper and her voice is well-recognised from her prolific voiceover career. Stefanie is currently working on a screenplay for Parallel Films and developing a TV pilot with Channel 4. Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? (Hachette Books Ireland) is her first book.
You can hear more from Stefanie when she joins #DBF2017 for Rick O’Shea Book Club on Saturday 4th November at Smock Alley Theatre.
Q. You’ve written for a variety of mediums – from the stage to the screen. Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? is your debut book. How has the book writing process compared to your previous writing experience?
Writing the book was such a luxury. Writing for the screen, the scripts have to be incredibly lean. It felt so wonderfully indulgent to be able to spend time bringing detail and nuance to the stories. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Q. Since your book is autobiographical, did you feel nervous at all about exposing yourself to the world, so-to-speak?
Oh god yeah! When it went to print I felt like I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. It felt as if I had published my diary. I tried to be uncomfortably honest in the book because I think in this day and age, audiences are attracted to truth, it’s important in a world full of lies and fake news. I chose stories that just happen to have happened to me but might have happened to anyone- heartbreaks, Santa truths, university struggles – I’d like to think I’m incredibly unique but I find that time and again that my experiences are general, universal and relatable.
Q. Aisling, one of the main characters in your darkly comic series Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, seems stuck in a loop while her friends keep moving on. Meanwhile, Why Can’t Everything Just Stay the Same? focusses on your own personal fear of change. Do you think this is common struggle many of us face when growing up, and can you share any tips on how best to cope with change?
I cope with change by having as many things as possible stay the same. The only permanence I have in life is through repetition. So I have a strong routine. I eat at the same places, I get up and go to bed at the same time, I am a loyal supporter of certain brands and TV shows. So I broker the strange chaos of life with as much stability as possible.
Q. In the media, you have been hailed as a voice for your generation, which you’ve expressed mixed feelings over. Can you recommend any other young adult women-driven narratives – from books to TV and films – that you’ve recently enjoyed?
I was blown away by Hunger (Harper Collins) by Roxanne Gay. I feel like you can’t go wrong re-watching the TV Show Sabrina The Teenage Witch – she is a stellar female character who taught me more than any other fictional character ever. Whale Rider, the film, directed by Niki Caro is a devastatingly good watch for its rendering of a young woman growing up in a family who wanted a boy and not a girl.