Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on British Debut Author Louise Fein. Her first book, Daughter of the Reich, is being released this week. I asked Louise to tell us briefly a little about herself and her writing:
I am an English author, living with my family in the beautiful countryside of Southern England. I always dreamt of being an author – it was my first love, and throughout my life, I have always been writing something, whether that be poetry, prose or diaries. After gaining a law degree and travelling, I settled down to a career in law and banking. But the writing bug never left me and I finally gave in to it, taking an MA in creative writing at St Mary’s university, London. It was during this time that I began work on my debut novel, Daughter of the Reich (also known as People Like Us in the UK).
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester –though they should totally check here first!)
Daughter of the Reich can be purchased from all major retailers. See the following link for more details on where to buy:
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
The easiest place is to check out my website: https://www.louisefein.com where you can find details about my current novel and where to buy it around the world, more about me, my blogs and newsletter, and to find about future novels.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Daughter of the Reich?
Daughter of the Reich is my debut novel. It is historical fiction, a story of impossible love, set against a tumultuous background in 1930’s Leipzig. Hetty Heinrich is a young girl growing up under Nazi rule. With an SS officer father, a brother in the Luftwaffe and a member of the BDM, Hetty is the epitome of a perfect German child. But Walter changes everything. Blond haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew. As she falls more and more in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, Hetty begins to question everything. Will the steady march of dark forces destroy their world, or can love ultimately triumph?
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
As a writer of historic fiction, research is central to the work that I do. For Daughter of the Reich, I carried out a considerable amount of research. I believe it is vital, to achieve real authenticity in a book, to embed the story in a historically accurate setting. The book is set in Leipzig in the 1930’s. I read as widely as I could, both fiction and non-fiction, relating to Germany in that time period, and anything I could get my hands on about Leipzig. This included reading contemporaneously written diaries, PHD papers, family papers, memoirs, text- books and old maps. I also read accounts of Hitler and his life and a translation of ‘Mein Kampf’. I needed to understand his mind-set. My book is told from the point of view of Hetty, a young girl who has been brainwashed into Nazism. To get inside her head I had to understand how people had come to believe in this Nazi dream. Ninety percent of my research has not made it into the book, but none of this has been wasted. The book is, I hope, imbibed and infused with the history, not burdened with it. One of the most heart-moving stories of my research is that I got to meet an elderly man named Peter Held who had travelled alone aged thirteen to London as a refugee in 1938. It turned out he had lived in the same street as my father’s cousins in Leipzig and had known them well. He was ninety-four when I met him and he generously recalled and spoke about some incredibly painful memories of what happened to him as a child. Very sadly he died just a few weeks after I had met him, but I was so glad I had that opportunity.
What was the inspiration for Daughter of the Reich? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
Daughter of the Reich was inspired by the experience of my father’s family, who fled Leipzig during the 1930’s and went either to London or New York as refugees. My father never spoke of his experiences under the Nazi’s and he died when I was only seventeen so I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it with him. I suppose writing the book has in some way been a process of learning and understanding my father’s roots. But I was also inspired to write it because of the unwelcome parallels between the early 30’s and today, for instance, the rise of populism and racial stigma following a deep economic downturn, coupled with the spread of propaganda, or ‘false news’, made possible by the new methods of spreading news (radio and cinema in the 1930’s, social media today. The lessons of the past should never be forgotten.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Persevere! Writing is a long-game and it takes time and dedication to write and finish a book; to edit, edit and edit, again and again. It takes time to find an agent and gain a publishing deal. But it absolutely is achievable. Read everything. It is the best thing you can do to be a writer. Listen to advice and be open to constructive critic. Above all, just keep going!
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I am very lucky in that I live in a 400-year-old converted watermill. In the garden we have an Elizabethan barn (dating back 500 years), beneath which runs a small stream, and which used to house a horse and some farm equipment. It has been converted into a library-style writing office, where I have my desk, a rug, couple of sofas and shelves full of books. I share the barn with some tiny birds who nest in the rafters and the odd bat! It is wonderfully peaceful and the perfect place for creativity, although, despite being heated, it is a little cold in the winter! My dog always accompanies me, curling up and sleeping in her basket at my feet while I type. Walking with her helps me solve many a plot hitch.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer the questions for us, Louise!