I’m meeting some awfully nice book bloggers this month as a result of my participation in a blog tour.
First up was Dianne Ascroft, an author originally from Canada, now in the UK. Her novel, Hitler and Mars Bars, the story of a German boy’s journey to manhood in war-torn Germany and post war Ireland, is now in my reading pile as eagerly anticipated reading.
Dianne hosted my novel in an interview, Meeting the Munich Girl, in which she asks creative questions. Here are a few that deal very directly with the experience of writing historical fiction:
How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?
PER: As closely as possible when it came to information from the WWII era and the years that preceded it in Germany. As my husband says, if the characters ride a train on a certain line at a certain time of day, there had to really be one. There’s a lot of factual information in The Munich Girl and I’ve heard from readers that it can be hard to know where the factual leaves off and the fiction begins. It’s easy to know where: in the emotional lives of the characters, including those people that history remembers. That’s where my own attempt to read between the lines of daily life watched for the signs of interior life I could recognize and convey as the story revealed itself.
In an historical novel you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
PER: This was one of the most delightful parts, for me, as I spent extended spans of time in various locales in Germany that are a part of the story. Also, in the time I spent poring over Eva Braun’s photographs and films, I got to know both the interiors and exteriors of the settings as they appeared during the 1930s and ‘40s. A fun element of research was what has become, for me, a growing collection of vintage postcards that show scenes from that era in many of the settings of the story.
There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
PER: I love stories where there’s a balance that hints at what a world with equality might look and feel like. This novel has a lot more scope for female characters. At its heart is a friendship between two women, one of whom was a megalomaniac’s mistress, and the effect their emotional intimacy had in each of their lives, and in the lives of those who came along in a next generation.
You can f ind the rest of Dianne’s interview here: