It's been a while since I last sent a newsletter, but it's time not only to wish you all the very best for 2016, but to announce publication of Journey To Munich, the new novel featuring Maisie Dobbs—the book will be in bookstores and available via online outlets on March 29, 2016.
Over the course of the next several newsletters, I will tell you more about Journey To Munich, and about my own journey to Munich, which formed part of my background research for the novel.
If you've read my newsletters before, you will know that I am always interested in where stories come from. Whenever I read a book, I am curious about the origin of the spark of inspiration that grew in the author's mind, so that they had no choice but to put words on the page, weaving them together to keep readers excited, interested and hanging on every new sentence. Let me tell you about the first spark of inspiration that led to Journey To Munich.
My mother was evacuated from London at the outset of war in 1939, however, as soon as she reached the age of 14, when she could legally work, her mother summoned her back from the relative safety of the country so that she could begin to contribute to the household. That's how things were for most youngsters then. My mother hated the job that had been lined up for her—working in a laundry. So she signed up for night school—and after-work classes were very popular in London then, as now. People would line up around the block of local colleges as soon as a new prospectus came out, so they could sign up for classes and hopefully improve their lot. Soon my mother was moving jobs, stepping up from one rung to the other, and by the age of 17 was working for a man who had a successful business in the preparation of foodstuffs. My mother was one of the bookkeepers. But possibly because she reminded her employer of his deceased daughter, he took her into his confidence and told her stories of how he came to own the factory—which had been funded by the government in return for his work. Indeed, prior to the war, the British government had brokered his release from a German concentration camp—and he had proof of his incarceration. It appears the Germans did not know the true value of this man, which was in his inventions, and one in particular—for he was by training an engineer. My mother was always one to soak up a good personal story, and first told me about her former employer when I was a child. It seems that once the man had paid his way by providing the authorities with the designs they wanted, another business was funded for him—something that had nothing to do with weaponry.
A nugget of that story became the spark of inspiration for Journey To Munich. In truth, I do not know in which camp the man was imprisoned—if I was ever told, I have forgotten. But over time he shared his experiences with my mother, which is probably one of the reasons why, even from an early age, she wanted her children to know about the true broad and deep human cost of war.
My book tour in connection with Journey To Munich will be finalized soon, so I'll let you have the details in the next newsletter. And I'll tell you more about my visit to Munich early this year.
Here's wishing you a new year blessed with good cheer, good health, and those you love close to your heart—even if you're communicating via Skype!
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