Mein Name ist Tom Hillenbrand. Ich komme aus Hamburg und wohne in München. Die meiste Zeit schreibe ich – vor allem Krimis, aber auch Scifi und historische Romane.

Ich habe Politik studiert und an der Georg von Holtzbrinck-Schule für Wirtschaftsjournalismus volontiert. Danach war ich für diverse Publikationen tätig (Textarchiv). Bis 2010 war ich Ressortleiter bei Spiegel Online.

Wenn ich gerade nicht schreibe, koche ich oder jage mit Bogen und Schwert Monster durch Dungeons, und zwar auf die althergebrachte Art: mit Papier, Bleistift und Würfeln.

My name is Tom Hillenbrand. I am from Hamburg and live in Munich...

Ich lese regelmäßig im deutschsprachigen Raum auf Festivals und in Buchhandlungen.
Außerdem halte ich Vorträge zu den Themen Essen und Wirtschaft.

Die nächsten Termine:

Bei Presseanfragen und Anfragen zu Buchlesungen wenden Sie sich bitte an meine Agentur weissundblau.

Bei Vortragsanfragen kontaktieren Sie gerne die Agentur für Helden.

Bei Rechteanfragen zu meinen Büchern sowie allen anderen Anfragen wenden Sie sich bitte an meine Literaturagentin Rebekka Göpfert.

About me

My name is Tom Hillenbrand. I am writing - mainly novels, but also some non-fiction (scroll down for a list of my books). Before I morphed into a full-time novelist, I covered technology and business for DER SPIEGEL’s online edition, Financial Times Deutschland and others. I live in Munich which is in Bavaria which is in Germany (kind of). When I am not writing, chances are you will find me at the gym or in a dungeon (not the whips-and-latex-kind, but the geeks-with-odd-shaped-dice-and-soda-kind).



My literary agent is Rebekka Göpfert.

For PR enquiries and readings, please contact Dorle Kopetzky.

Please do not send me any manuscripts. Unsolicited manuscripts sent by snail mail will be barbecued in my backyard. Unsolicited manuscripts sent by email will be printed out before being barbecued in my backyard.


Books (fiction)

My sci-fi thriller "Hologrammatica" is set in 2088. Three catastrophes have ravaged the planet - climate change, a virus that has greatly decimated world population and a crisis known as "The Turing Incident". Private eye Galahad Singh is hired to find a missing computer programmer who worked on encrypting mind uploads - digital replications of human brains. Who kidnapped the programmer? Soon Singh doubts that his adversary is human. English summary and rights info here.

My dystopian scifi thriller "Drone State“ is set in a future European Union that has become the perfect surveillance state. It won the Glauser prize for best German detective novel and the Laßwitz prize for best science fiction novel in 2014. It is currently available in German, English, French and Japanese. English summary and rights info here.

My historical novel „The Coffee Thief“ is a kind of Ocean’s Eleven with musketeers and powdered wigs. Set in the late 17th century, it is based on the true story of how the Dutch stole coffee plants from the Ottomans and broke the Turkish monopoly on the „wine of Islam“. Currently available in German, Spanish, Dutch and Russian. English summary and rights info here.


My Xavier Kieffer mystery series is about a cook and accidental detective. In every volume, Kieffer solves a murder (and uncovers a food scandal). The books are currently available in German, Italian, Spanish and Polish and are currently being made into a movie. English summary and rights info here.


"The Drones of Monsieur Leclerq“ is a collection of columns first published in the German edition of „Wired“ magazine - offering glimpses into a strange future, set in the world of „Drone Country“. Available in German.


Books (non-fiction)

Co-written with Konrad Lischka, and crowdfunded by hundreds of fans, "Dragonfathers: The History of Role-Playing Games and the Birth of the Virtual World“ is a 360 page full color book about the history of pen & paper RPGs like "Dungeons & Dragons". It traces the roots of these analog virtual realities to early fantasy stories and Prussian war game simulations. The book is currently available in German, but you can find an English summary here.


"The King’s NSA“ is an essay about the roots of mass surveillance in the Baroque era. It shows how Louis XIV and other monarchs used letters and ciphers to control the flow of information during the Enlightenment. Based on a Re:Publica speech, available in German and English.


"Bits & Bites. The invention of food“: What do iPhones and chocolate bars have in common? "Bits & Bites" looks at innovation in the food sector since the stone age. The essay is available in German and English.



A few quotes about coffee

When I did research for my historical heist novel „Der Kaffeedieb“ (The Coffee Thief) in which a band of 17th century rogues tries to break the Ottoman coffee monopoly, I came across dozens of poems, ditties and quotes about „the wine of Islam“ – more than one could possibly have crammed into a novel.

That is a pity, because many of them are quite amusing. If you are interested in the history of coffee in Europe, then here you go:

The first English coffeehouse opened in Oxford, in 1651. Until then, coffee had been considered a mere novelty, something mentioned in obscure journals of Oriental travelers, if at all.

In early reports coffee was often hailed as a medicinal substance with amazing healing powers:

When foggy Ale, leaving up mighty trains
Of muddy vapours, had besieg’g our Brains,
Then Heaven in Pity
First sent amongst us this All-healing Berry,

Coffee arrives, that grave and wholesome liquor,
That heals the stomach, makes the genius quicker,
Relieves the memory, revives the sad,
And cheers the spirits without making mad.

(Anonymous, 1647)

Others were convinced coffee was good for digestion and against headaches.

Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head.

(M.P. „A character of coffee and coffee-houses“)

It also allegedly cured many other ailments, according to a pamphlet by Pasqua Rosée, the owner of London’s first coffee house:

It is observed that in Turkey where this is generally drunk that they are not troubled with the Stone, Gout, Dropsie, or Scurvy and that their skins are exceedingly clear and white

(Rosée, „The Vertue of the Coffee Drink“)

Not everyone shared this sentiment, however. French doctors opined that coffee could kill you, because of

burnt particles, which [coffee] contains in large quantities, have so violent energy that, when they enter the blood, they attract the lymph and dry the kidneys.‘

(Expertise by the University of Marseille, 1679)

Paralysis, impotence and brain damage were some of the dangers, according to the professors. The German composer Carl Gottlieb Hering would later even write a coffee canon (which uses the notes C-A-F-F-E-E) warning against excessive coffee consumption:

C-a-f-f-e-e, trink nicht so viel Kaffee! Nichts für Kinder ist der Türkentrank, schwächt die Nerven, macht dich blass und krank. Sei doch kein Muselman, der ihn nicht lassen kann!
C-a-f-f-e-e, don’t drink so much coffee. Not for children is the Turk’s brew, weakens the nerves, makes you pale and sick. Don’t be a Mussulman, who cannot stay off it.

Many anti-coffee writings were being circulated by the coffeehouses‘ main competitors – ale houses and vintners. There also was a good deal of xenophobia involved. When coffee’s popularity surged in the late 17th century, the Ottoman Turks were the most powerful nation in Europe – and considered to be enemies of Christendom.

Neve mind that the English, the French and the Venetians were all more than happy do business with the Turks – they still were heathens and clearly up to something. Some people thought coffee was some kind of Trojan horse that would bring Islam and the Alcoran (i.e. The Koran) to the Occident:

Once Coffee WAS VENDED HERE THE ALC’RON shortly did appear
(The Character of a Coffee House, 1665)

Coffee was the devil’s brew, for sure:

For Menan Christians to turn Turks and think
T’excuse the Crime because tis in their drink
Is more then Magick and does plainly tell
Coffee’s extraction has its heats from hell

(A cup of coffee, 1663)

Others simply found the new drink unpalatable:

Syrop of Soot and Essens of old shoes
Dasht with Diurnals and the Booke of News

(Anonymous coffee ditty)

But it soon became evident coffee was here to stay. At the end of the 17th century, London had dozens of coffee houses. These were frequented by many gentlemen, among them natural philosophers and politicians like Halley, Hooke, Pepys or Wren. Coffee houses thus became information hubs. Tom Standage from „The Economist“ has called them „the internet coffeehouse“. A standard coffeehouse greeting was „What news have you?“. This is encapsulated in a poem by Thomas Jordan:

You did delight in Wit and Mirth and long to hear such news
As comes from all parts of the earth, Dutch, Danes and Turks and Jews
I’le send you a Rendezvous where it is smoking new:
Go hear it at a Coffee-house– it cannot but be true
There’s nothing done in all the World, from Monarch to the Mouse
But every day or night ‚tis hurled into the Coffee-house

(Thomas Jordan, News from the Coffee-house)

Many people remarked on this:

Coffee houses make all sorts of people sociable. The rich and the poor meet together, as also do the learned and unlearned. For here an inquisitive man that aims a good learning may get more in an evening then he shall by books in a month; he may find out such coffee houses where men frequent who are studious in such matters as his enquiry tends to and he may in short space gain the pith and the marrow of the others reading and studies.

(John Houghton, „A discourse of coffee read at a Meeting of the ROYAL SOCIETY“, 1699)

And you got all that knowledge for just a penny (which was what a dish of coffee cost you):

So great a Universitie I think there never was any; in which you may a Scholar be, for spending of a Penny.

(Anonymous ditty)

Coffee houses, some remarked, were also places of political power:

„I am not yet convinced that any Access to men in Power gives a man more Truth or Light than the Politicks of a Coffee House.”

(Jonathan Swift)

Coffee which makes the politician wise, and see thro‘ all things with his half-shut eyes.

(A. Pope)

But when coffee houses became more an more popular among gentlemen, some were not amused. No, not the king, although Charles II. once tried to ban coffee houses. London’s women were furious that their husbands were sitting in the coffee houses all day. They circulated a pamphlet called the „Women’s Petition Against Coffee“:

The Occasion of which Insufferable Disaster, after a furious Enquiry, and Discussion of the Point by the Learned of the Faculty, we can Attribute to nothing more than the Excessive Use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE …has…Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age.

Understandably, their husbands felt they needed to counter these arguments with a pamphlet of their own. It went by the succinct title „THE Mens Answer TO THE Womens Petition AGAINST COFFEE, VINDICATING Their own Performances, and the Vertues of that Liquor, from the Undeserved Aspersions lately cast upon them by their SCANDALOUS PAMPHLET“

‚Tis base adulterate wine and surcharges of Muddy
Ale that enfeeble nature, makes a man as salatious
as a Goat, and yet as impotent as Age, whereas Coffee
Collects and settles the Spirits, makes the erection
more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds a
spiritualescency to the Sperme, and renders it more firm
and suitable to the Gusto of the womb, and proportionate
to the ardours and expectation too, of the female

Well, that’s it. Enjoy your spiritualescent coffee, maybe with some music by Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote a coffee cantata:

Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße,
Lieblicher als tausend Küsse,
Milder als Muskatenwein.

Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben,
Und wenn jemand mich will laben,
Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein!

Oh! How sweet the coffee tastes
Lovelier than a thousand kisses
Milder than muscatel
Coffee, coffee I must have
And if someone wants to refresh me
He will pour a coffee for me

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3 Kommentare

  • Simon Pree sagt:

    18. August 2017 um 02:09pm

    Eine gründlichere Recherche im Bereich Geografie wäre ebenfalls wünschenswert gewesen. Das Ijsselmeer, welches im Buch an mindestens zwei Stellen genannt wird, ist ein Binnensee, der erst 1932 durch die Errichtung von Dämmen entstand.
  • Tom sagt:

    18. August 2017 um 02:13pm

    Stimmt! In der zweiten Auflage ist es nun die Zuidersee.
  • Simon Pree sagt:

    18. August 2017 um 02:14pm

    Super, freut mich zu hören, dass das mittlerweile schon korrigiert wurde!