Sunday, April 27, 2014

The most frequent questions, Pt. 2

Why would a nice person like you write about Nazi Germany?

  I've written (and published) fiction and non-fiction short pieces for all ages, preschool through adult. Risking Exposure is the only one set in Nazi Germany. The others aren't even remotely similar in time or place or even in tone - Chicken Soup for the Soul for audiences seeking inspiration, Highlights High Five for preschoolers, Advance for Physical Therapists for PTs and PTAs, Discovery Years and Thriving Family for parents, Hopscotch for kids, plus a few currently on Wattpad. I think across genres, I read across genres, so I write across genres too.

I love stories, real or fictional, in which an unlikely hero must pull himself up by his bootstraps and become more than he was, in which an ordinary person is forced to rise above her circumstances in order to stand up for what is right.
That means the hero would have to be in a time and place in which doing what's right comes at great personal risk. Nazi Germany was just such a place.

All four of my grandparents emigrated to the US from Germany in the 1920s. One grandmother lived in our apartment building when I was a kid, and the other one moved in with us when I was a teen. So we got a good dose of the language, food, music, and culture of the homeland they loved. When I learned of the Nazi years in school, I asked the same questions many have asked - How could that happen? How could the country which produced my own family, plus geniuses like Bach and Goethe allow such horrors to occur right under their noses?

The answers are complex of course, spanning decades of Germany history and the culture of everyday life in a police state and dictatorship. But in exploring the answers, I found some simple themes which resonated with me -
it was a time and place of blind allegiance to an ideal;
in which some people held more value than others;

in which people were brainwashed by a flood of government-controlled information;
in which the voices of those who spoke against the regime were silenced through threats, violence, or detention.

It was and still is a perfect storm to use as a backdrop for a hero story. That's probably why so many of us writers choose to set our stories there.

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