I want to thank S.S. Bazinet for the opportunity to talk about my latest book, Snares and Delusions. The chance to dig deep into the writing process and to explain what moved me to present my main character, Britta, in the way I did is rare.
Physical Education Class at the German School in Copenhagen
Why did you choose this historical period to write about?
There are many reasons for my choice of historical epoch. One of them is my family history which inspired the three books of The Triptych. Not only that, but the recent world war that ended around 1945 has also influenced society in many ways, and I dare to say that it is a factor in our current world situation.
One of my greatest hopes in writing about this terrible period is that it could be a warning. Wars are never won, no matter how we try to justify them. Having said that, I’m certain, should another war happen, I’d feel compelled to take part or take sides in one way or another. We can’t know what it is like to be confronted with the horrors of war until we have experienced them.
What can I say? I hope that my small contribution against war will make its point.
General Strike Copenhagen, July 1944
What inspired you to write this story?
Part of my answer is stated above. On a personal level, writing it was a labour of love, but it was also cathartic.
Please, give us your take on your main character, Britta.
Britta was a hard character to work with and on. Her innate demeanour is fun-loving and a little rebellious. It quickly gets quelled through her granny’s overbearing demeanour (for instance at the thunderstorm in the beginning). Her father and mother had little to say, because of Nana’s strong presence in the household.
Fathers were distant in those days, working long hours, and not concerned with the upbringing of children. It was seen as female work. Women worked as hard as housewives and breeding machines.
Britta’s father has personal issues that come to the fore in Woes and Wonders. He is a war victim in more than one way. Britta admires him over all others, but she has no understanding or knowledge of his past.
Her mother appears weak, but she is the only person in the household who speaks out about the danger Hitler presents. Her thoughts only come forward in Woes and Wonders, as she is seen through Britta’s eyes in Secrets and Lies.
The heads of the family, Nana and Father, only see the German influence as something positive.
What child would have had a chance to understand the political consequences of the philosophy behind the Nazi ideas? Especially when the people she admired most were pro-Hitler. Britta had no chance. The teachers at her school impressed and enforced these ideas.
My research uncovered the active recruiting to HJ and BDM among pupils at the German School in Copenhagen. It is also proven that the Jewish children who attended the school were ousted and the last Jewish child had left the school by 1940 (Jødiske børn på Sankt Petri skolen i København blev mobbet ud (berlingske.dk)) The link is just one example among many – and unfortunately in Danish. I just thought I’d include it to accentuate the novelty – 28th of May 2017 – of this research. For years, even as late as 2016, the German school denied any involvement in the ‘German cause’.
Of course, Britta could have learned from her mistakes, and that she didn’t is her tragedy.
DNSAP Headquarter in Copenhagen
What would you like your readers to take away from this story?
I think my message is that war causes endless numbers of victims. Not just the obvious ones.
The victims of war send a message that reverberates through generations. War uproots people; it can cripple bodies as well as minds.
If you have anything else you’d like to tell us about Secrets and Lies, please do.
Secrets and Lies stands alone, but reading all three parts of The Triptych would enrich Britta’s story.
I’d like to include the Book trailers for every book in The Triptych as they might give a better impression than many words can do.
The Bombing of Shell Hus, March 1945
My books can be found on Amazon. Here is the link to my author page on Amazon US