“There are no dream women”: Amelie Fried on girlfriends, frustration and fertility

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Her third dream women’s collection, now with “spare parts”: This time the Munich author Amelie Fried has her protagonist go through the hell of her 60th birthday. It’s about grown children, illnesses, unwanted daughters-in-law, friendships that have grown older and the illusions that women over 60 can still indulge in. Or rather not. Because if your own man is more interested in a bike ride than a blowjob – does he have a young lover? Or is he just old? And should any tension still be built up in the relationship between Amelie Fried’s dream woman Cora and her artist? ntv.de asks the bestselling author.

ntv.de: The “dream woman” is now a trilogy – what does “dream woman” mean to you?

Amelie Fried: I used the term with a wink from the start and meant it rather ironically. The first Traumfrau volume was written at a time when so-called “cheeky women’s novels” were booming, so I never really felt like I belonged there. In my opinion there is no such thing as “dream women”.

Why not?

A dream woman is what someone else sees in her. If you are in love with a woman, then maybe that corresponds to the dream ideas that you have built up over time. It’s a cliché term that I meant quite derisively.

The book is written in the first person, so I read it with you in mind. To the point…

…if it turns out that Cora has long black hair and a big nose, I really can’t offer that (laughs). But this dream woman has a living role model, a friend of mine who has been friends with me for over 30 years. However, over the years, the dream woman in my book has adapted a bit to me. I gave her some of my traits because it’s easier to get along with a character when there’s something wrong with them too. Much of what she thinks and says, I would not think and say that way. On the other hand, my character has a kind of humor and self-mockery that I sometimes wish I had.

For example, you always want to be quick to understand.

Yes, but I thought a lot about the witty dialogues in the book (laughs). Most of the great answers will come to you later. But that’s the beauty of such a character – you can invent it, breathe life into it and then experience things you wouldn’t even dare to do yourself. Cora is a brave and combative person – I like that.

Growing old with your book protagonist, what’s that like?

It’s like going back to an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. I’m very curious what happened to her in the meantime. It’s exciting to think about how a character went on to write it. Cora used to run a dating agency, but now she has completed therapy training and teaches couples therapy. Doesn’t it make sense to bring couples together first and then help them solve the problems they wouldn’t have without each other. (laughs).

And saying goodbye to the character, is that hard at the end of the book?

I’m very lucky there, all Traumfrauen volumes sell extremely well, so far I’ve always been able to get back to my character.

The book covers almost all topics of interest to women. From cancer screening to diagnosis, sex and no sex, family, friendship drifting apart…

Yes, but I saved a few topics… (laughs)

That means she’s 60 now, will we see her again at 70?

I do not know yet (laughs). “Dream woman with compression stockings” perhaps, or with a walker? With “Dream Woman” I always deal with the topics that play a role in the relevant phase of life. It started when I was 30, pregnancy and prenatal diagnosis, aging played a part, when I was 40 I didn’t have the idea to make it into a series, but then I did when I was 50, and then it was all about the fading eroticism, affairs, that rebellion against old age. And now 60. It only makes sense if you ask yourself the right questions.

Is that a bad date, the 60th birthday?

It’s definitely a drastic date, we have these images in the minds of 60-year-olds: beige windbreakers, health shoes – we don’t want that under any circumstances (laughs). How you start or suppress the day is probably very individual: In bed with a bottle of sparkling wine and a Netflix subscription or a big party dancing until you pass out. I celebrated my 60th, smaller circle, but dancing till morning. I was so happy! And besides – what’s the alternative? Dying young – I missed that.

How do you maintain your dignity?

It has a lot to do with attitude, both internally and externally. So a straight back also immediately reinforces the whole charisma. I always make sure to walk upright. You also need to look outward and straight ahead, and not just at yourself and your own frivolities. Also: concentrate on what is possible and not on what is no longer possible! I won’t be a figure skater or chancellor anymore, that’s for sure, but as long as my bones allow it, I could still parachute out of a plane.

Would that be your wish?

Not necessarily, I just mean it’s time to make your dreams come true!

I keep hearing that people in their 80s still think they are only – at most – 50. Not on the outside and the problems get worse, but the attitude, the basic structure, remains.


My dream woman Cora also sees it this way: that there is a big difference between how others see you and how you see yourself. How you feel and how you see yourself and see reflected by your environment. And I feel that too: you have a certain personality, you go through a maturing process and yet you remain who you are. That also means that when I’m in a group with younger people, I like to say “we” – and they look at me with annoyance. Because the young people see me as a much older woman, it is not a ‘we’ feeling for them. It used to be the same for me: a 64-year-old, like me now, came from another planet. It’s a little painful, I admit.

On the other hand, one has to realize that “young” does not necessarily mean “great”. There are people who are born boring and stay that way.

That’s correct. Just because the skin is still smooth doesn’t mean everything is fine. Sometimes I even think it’s really not easy for the boys. For example, I wonder how young people can find the confidence to have children in these critical times. Professionally, many have it more difficult than we did then. My feeling, my view of youth is quite concerned and completely free of envy. I really enjoy talking to young people, you learn a lot that way. There is a lot of strength, a lot of intelligence and a great willingness to take on challenges.

Ok, there are limitations, at some point having kids stops and you usually don’t take a new job, but there’s more to come, there are still a lot of positive surprises and experiences I think.

“My life can still surprise me” – that’s a key phrase. This is an attitude to old age that we need. If at some point I say, well, I already had everything, I don’t need it anymore, what else is coming, then I don’t know either. I really don’t want anything to do with people like that, it’s boring. At least I don’t want to get old like that!

Also a subject in the book: Partnership and Sex – Cora wants to “get started” with her husband for his 60th birthday, but prefers a mountain bike ride over a blowjob…

I think we really need to rethink our attitude to old age. Humans are naturally made to reproduce, that’s possible. at least in women. After a certain age they stop having sex, so to some extent they are also denied the right to sex. Of course people over 60 have sex…

…and if they don’t have one, they’d love to have one.

Certainly a lot! Since men can father children into old age, they are more likely to be credited with still having a sex life. Couples should definitely talk openly about what they want, I think there’s more to it than many people think. But the beauty of old age is that you don’t have to pressure yourself anymore and can develop a calmness that you don’t have when you are younger.

Over time, you also grow apart from people you’ve known for a long time…

Some friendships last, others end without anything happening, but it just doesn’t fit anymore. Then you have to let go, let go. I can now let people go more easily, on the other hand I have also made new friends. And what I strongly advise: find younger friends! I see that with my mother, who is over 90 years old: most of her friends of the same age have long since passed away. However, the youngest now visit her and see her as an interlocutor with whom people like to be together. If you don’t want to get lonely in old age, you have to put in a little effort to stay interesting.

Sabine Oelmann spoke with Amelie Fried

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