Table of Contents

Book Info

Cover Artist:
The Conrad Press
31 May 2021
Book Type
Heat Level


Berlin. Its boys. Their stories

Boys and men of Berlin. A captivating journey through their lives, love affairs and misdemeanours across the city’s turbulent history.

Felix and Walther bestride a deep class divide, forging an enduring bond in 1890s Prussia. Kaspar and Max navigate the fraught upheavals of the Weimar Republic by skilfully marketing the only commodity in demand. Young Kazimierz leaves his impoverished Silesian village and sets off on an epic journey to the Prussian capital, the seat of an ageing Frederick the Great. His heavenly beauty, endearing naivety and, ultimately, fate will transform his life once through the gates of the city.

Echoes within echoes. Circles within circles. Wealth, poverty and moral compromise. The privilege and toxic masculinity of the Prussian officer class.

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Introduce yourself and your writing

Hi, I’m Paolo and The Tiergarten Tales is my first book. I was born and bred in Milan, Italy. Lived for a while in Amsterdam and Paris before moving to the Big Smoke a little over thirty years ago.

The project came about while in lockdown in February 2020. I had a few ideas about different stories and started to write them down in a disorderly way. Then it started to slowly take shape.

The LGBTQ+ / Historical Fiction genre is without a doubt niche but that is what I feel I want to write and I am generally happy with a few discerning readers who are into this kind of fiction.

How long have you been an author?

February 2020. However, I have written an autobiographical account of my first twenty-eight years in Milan. I’m not sure I will ever want to publish it.

What/who inspired you to start writing?

I am an avid reader of the genre (Miller/Renault/Fry, etc.) so I thought that maybe I would be good at telling a story too.

Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it?

The Tiergarten Tales is a loose collection of stories set in Berlin, across different periods of the city. There are connections between the stories and four of them are part of a mini family saga. Sounds confusing but so far readers have enjoyed the quirkiness of the format.

How did you decide on the title?

The Tiergarten is the huge park in the middle of Berlin. One way or the other, it witnesses the life stories of the characters, therefore I thought it should be in the title.

What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?

It is a dual storyline. One set in the present and the other in Renaissance Italy. It involves two very talented young painters, their emotional and artistic developments and some tragedies occurring on the way. It is a book about the envy that talent can cause and the consequences for all the people involved.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

My laziness and not being a native speaker (not sure in which order!).

Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?

That when your book is published it is no longer your book. Reader have come up with all sorts of interpretations which I had not thought about.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

There is no point in writing something just to sell books.

Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why?

My genre will remain LGBTQ+ / Historical Fiction

Is there a book you wish you had written?

The Master and Margarita. Because it is crazy (and so was Bulgakov).

What book are you reading at the moment?

Circe, by Madeleine Miller.

What other novels do you adore?

The Persian Boy, Achilles’ song, Heroes, Troy, Anna Karenina.

Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?

I prefer imagination.

Do you have a favourite character and/or book you’ve written? Who, what and why?

Felix. Unbearably handsome, generous, charming, good-hearted. But also reckless, maddening and self-destructive.

Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about and planning them?

I think about them at night mainly.


Do you write often? Do you have a schedule?

I am a very irregular writer. Fifty or sixty pages can be done in an impetuous draft overnight. Then nothing for weeks.

What are your writing and personal goals for 2021 and beyond?

My second book is almost half-way. The third and fourth are in my mind already. I will take you to the shores of the Black Sea and back to the Roman Empire.

Are there big events in your life that affect your writing?

The death of my father when I was sixteen.

Are you obsessed with stationery? And if so, what and why?

MacBook buff here!

If you had access to a time machine just once, is there anything you’d go back and change? Either on a personal level or an historical event?

Wars. Any war.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things (or people) would you want there with you?

Why ruin the blissful peace of a desert island?





Reviewed By: Josh Dale


I was not sure what I was expecting from the synopsis. But it intrigued me as Historical mm fiction fan.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of short stories. I dare say I can visualise the stories as a movie or tv series

It is so well written, and throughout the book, we are taken on a visual tour of Berlins history. On this journey we come across many of the issues that LGBT people have faced throughout history and sadly one or to are still issues today. Issues of breaking the law because you love some one of the same sex. The book covers the dark days of the Holocaust and the terrible treatment of not only Jewish people but also Gay men, who are often forgotten in today’s narrative of World War two.

Other topics covered are Rape, Older / Younger relationships, and found family to name but a few.

There is such a realism to the story worlds, you feel the dangers, fears, worries as well as happier emotions that the characters face.

The characters are so well developed, their personalities, their quirks, and emotions are so well portrayed and authentic.

Felix and Walther’s story is my favourite, set in 1890’s Berlin as the world is turbulent and growing dangers are affecting these two childhood friends / lovers. It is a found family and coming of age story that covers class divide, making one’s own family. The loyalty and protectiveness that the characters have for each other in such dark times is amazing.

I really would love to see each story expanded into full novels, including some of the missing years between the stories. The book as a Downton abbey quality to it, that is how well written the stories are.

I highly recommend anyone that like historic novels to check out the book.


Grey sky. It has been so for the last few days, or weeks, months perhaps. It had been his decision to move here so there is no one else to blame. That irks him no end, no

one to blame, no one to shout at.

Up here on the sixth floor one can barely hear the traf-

fic below and there is never much of it anyway; it’s early morning and he lives on a quiet and leafy street, upmarket, expensive, unaffordable for most people.

The air is warm and all he wears is pyjama bottoms; he prefers to walk around the apartment barefoot though he misses a soft thick carpet. But more often than not homes come with beautiful wooden parquet here: beautiful but uncomfortable for his feet which have lost some of the supple elasticity they used to have. Age, always age; he wishes he could log out from thinking about ageing.

Coffee time. He walks back inside through the French doors and inserts a capsule in the machine, the mechanical noise reassuring, another morning with the same routine.

Frau Greta is on her way and he needs to get out. It’s his rule number one or, rather, hers: get out of the cleaning lady’s way, you’re just a hindrance and when she took on the job she dropped a few stern hints which allowed no debate. Very German, he smiles.

No breakfast at home; he’ll walk to the Bismarck Bistro for mid-morning brunch. The temperature is warm enough to sit outside with just a light jacket and watch the world go by.

Except that it never does. The bistro is quaint and the fare of good quality but it never seems to be that busy, though the lack of a crowd has lately developed into a pleasure rather than a shortcoming.

Either way the bistro is close, reasonably priced, and on the edge of that vast and wild forest in the centre of the city peculiarly described as a ‘garten’.

He’s ready now and he feels pleasantly casual: slacks, a polo and a light blue jacket. A scarf around his neck protects him from the light breeze.

And sunglasses. He has spent a good chunk of his previous life in a part of the world where everyone wore sunglasses, outdoor and indoor. You could never see anyone’s eyes. Beautiful eyes, old eyes, blue, green, black, it didn’t matter; they were all behind dark lenses. All the fucking time.

But he has kept the habit; perhaps one day he’ll lose it. Habits come and go.

He strolls along the oak-lined paths before turning towards the bistro. Empty roads. Is that Sunday? Perhaps not, but the roads are always empty here anyway. Which he loves. Or not. He’s not yet sure.

When he reaches the bistro, he lazily scans the area: a few tables outside, almost empty as usual, one middle-aged guy tapping away at his laptop in the far corner.

He takes a seat and then remembers the free newspapers inside so he gets up again and strolls in to pick up a copy of the Morgenpost.

Ella is at the till. The owner greets him in a low voice and with a smile. She must do that with all the regular customers, he thinks, but he likes it as it makes him feel special even if he is dead sure he isn’t.

After three years his German has improved dramatically. He has subjected himself to a gruelling and eye-wateringly expensive blitz of private tuitions. He can now finish read- ing long-winded and often completely irrelevant opinion pieces. Nothing much ever seems to happen here anyway. He prefers books to news but he forgot to bring one along.

‘Good morning sir, what can I get you today?’

Not Ella’s voice. It sounds soft and warm, young, almost female though clearly not.

As he turns, a young man of perhaps less than twenty stands there with a smile and detectable eagerness. The eagerness of the new employee, the excitement of a new job, the freshness of a new chapter.

The boy gently shifts the wheat blond fringe along his forehead; a pair of black framed spectacles sits on his angular nose, the thick prescription lenses magnifying his light blue eyes.

‘Good morning, let’s see: a cappuccino for a start, I haven’t decided on the food, may I have a minute?’

‘Sure, sir, I’ll get the drink ready for you, take your time.’

The manners are calm and polite. Unassuming, he ponders.

After a few minutes the young man returns with the cappuccino and briefly stands there, clearly waiting for the order but with no impatient insistence.


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Paolo G. Grossi was born and raised in Milan. Thirty years ago, he spent a weekend in London and decided to stay. Like most Italians, opera and the visual arts are his main passions. When not writing, you will surely find him attending a performance, visiting a museum and, of course, spending some time cycling in Berlin or around the Wannsee. He lives in London with his partner David.
The Tiergarten Tales is his first book.

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