Author Anne-Marie Reuter and literary critic Jérôme Jaminet; Credit: Otilia Dragan/

On the evening of Tuesday 16 April 2024, three English-language authors presented their work-in-progress at an event involving the audience at the Ratelach bar in Esch-sur-Alzette.

The evening was moderated by Luxembourgish author and literary critic Jérôme Jaminet and featured Luxembourg-based writers Anne-Marie Reuter, Jeffrey Palms and Maxime Weber.

These “Work in Progress” events started in Paris, and since 2016, in Luxembourg, named "Word in Progress"(WIP). Usually, on the second Tuesday of each month, from November to May, WIP Luxembourg invites the public to discover three texts in the making and their authors. 

After each reading, the public can ask questions and share impressions with the author and the audience. To help create a dialogue, an “interrogator” stands by the writer and helps guide the discussion. Each WIP is dedicated to one of the country’s spoken languages.  

The evening’s readings were all speculative fiction works. Maxime Weber started the evening reading an excerpt from his newest novel about manmade objects that develop consciousness. He is active in journalism in Luxembourg and has a variety of opinion pieces on socio-political subjects, including musical and literary criticism. Maxime Weber published his first novel in 2021, in the genre of speculative fiction: Das Gangrän. He also publishes short prose and has taken part in the writing of a series of theatrical tales staged by the MASKéNADA collective as part of Esch2022. His newest work explores themes of self-consciousness, with pain and compassion as fundamental expressions of it and where stories and identities can go within limits of expression – as the individual objects cannot communicate. The story describes objects from a new light, giving them life and character in surprising and unusual ways.

The second author reading his work in progress was Jeffrey Palms, a journalist at Delano magazine and author of the semi-autobiographical exploration of intercontinental idiosyncrasies I’m having a Knippchen, published with Black Fountain Press. He noted he is currently writing his first science fiction novel, and is “in the middle of it”, having written some chapters already. Nevertheless, he revealed that his process is “patchy”, and before reading his excerpt he asked the audience to note whether this “second first draft” was an overload of information and perhaps “too much too quickly”. His exacting and magnetic prose attempted to “challenge a mainstream notion of progress” and to use music as part of a concrete technology. In this context, he elaborated on aspects of music as a type of time travel, fatherhood and his solarpunk inspiration for the novel, including ideas of a utopian, post-money future.

The evening’s third reading author, Anne-Marie Reuter, publishing director and editor at Black Fountain Press and English teacher at the Lycée Robert Schuman, has already published a short story collection entitled On the Edge in 2017 and in 2021, her story Blue was published by Redfoxpress with illustrations by South Korean artist Antic-Ham. She spoke about her speculative fiction work in progress, noting it has been in the works for around seven years. During this time, the work changed and surprised her in many ways - notably with the second main character emerging two years ago. She revealed that, in the past, she was not drawn to science fiction but that it felt right for this work about memory and a family saga. The audience was able to discover her two main characters, a young and an elderly woman, Melissa and Millie, whose lives are intertwined through care and memories, with the backdrop of a high-tech civilisation that Melissa decides to leave.

Speaking about her writing process, going from ideas of more short stories in 2017 to the powerful realisation that what she had on her hands was really the beginning of a novel, Anne-Marie Reuter explained that “a book is ready when you feel you have done what you wanted to do” and she elaborated on the “strong feeling [that] it’s ready to meet the world”. She added that the novel is due sometime this summer, possibly in July.

The evening’s friendly and intimate atmosphere made it possible for the public to develop a special connection with the authors, all the while providing a type of “soundboard” for their work. While the next English language WIP event’s date was not yet disclosed, the organisers noted it may take place sometime during the summer break.