The fans of Marthaler can rejoice. After his literary excursion to Berlin with a new investigator named Neuhaus, the inventor of the Frankfurt commissioner, Matthias Altenburg alias Jan Seghers, now has the two protagonists meet – on home territory in Frankfurt and in a true case, namely the six-fold murder in a brothel on Kettenhofweg in 1994. The story is set, Altenburg just has to write it down.
Altenburg's path to becoming a successful crime writer, almost all of whose novels were made into films, was anything but inevitable. The author, who was born in Fulda in 1958 and grew up in Baunatal, began his literary career in 1999 with the novel "Landscape with Wolves", a kind of North Hessian Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn story, and would probably have continued it in a similar way if he had not fallen into something like a writing lull.
At the time, Altenburg had two novels in mind: One was about a Marburg student named Marthaler, whose girlfriend accidentally gets caught between the fronts during a bank robbery and dies, after which her boyfriend becomes a police commissioner. At the heart of the other novel idea was a kind of wolf girl from Alsace who had lost her parents in a car accident.
Decidedly exotic career aspiration
A friend advised the indecisive Altenburg to combine both stories in one novel, which became a thriller with the title "An all-too-beautiful girl", the first bestseller by Jan Seghers. Altenburg now called himself a crime writer, and his choice of name was based on two of his heroes: the now fallen professional cyclist Jan Ullrich and the writer Anna Seghers. Literature was Altenburg's passion even in his school days. At the age of 15, he copied the "Apfelböck" on matrices, his first literary magazine with poems and short stories, but which did not go beyond two issues. But from then on it was clear to him that he wanted to become a writer.
For the son of a proletarian Christian family, whose father worked at VW in Baunatal, first on the assembly line and then as a janitor of company apartments, this was a decidedly exotic career aspiration. But the son was lucky, because he had a great German teacher at the comprehensive school in Baunatal and found left-wing friends interested in literature in the upper school in Kassel. During his civilian service, he founded the literary magazine "Angensteiner Blätter" with them, with which he admittedly got into threatening debt.
He spent most of his studies in art history, journalism and German literature reading. When the Bafög expired, he had to earn money and found his livelihood at a construction publisher in Frankfurt, which also had a little fiction in its program, which Altenburg now looked after. Eventually, he became an editor at the local publishing house of authors. In addition, Altenburg regularly wrote literary reviews and essays for various local newspapers and published texts in magazines such as Konkret. Since his successes with the Marthaler crime novels, he has been able to make a living entirely from his writing.
His great passions are cycling and France. On his various racing bikes, he has meticulously explored the locations of his crime novels. And in France, for which he had already caught fire in his youth, he always spends the summer writing in the south near Sète. This is where his next thriller is likely to grow soon.