Tonight I got hit by a double whammy.
9/11 and Dachau.
I watched two TV shows back to back… the first dealing with the fabulous documentary on CNN by French filmmakers and brothers, Gédéon and Jules Naudet, and firefighter James Hanlon. on 9/11 and the New York Fire Department… exceptional and gripping filmmaking.
And next a story about World War 2 shot in color by Hollywood director, George Stevens, and what he filmed when he visited Dachau in May 1945.
What do they have in common?
Well, this story will post on 9/11 on the 20th anniversary and I can’t not take a few moments to stop and ask for a moment of silence for all those who died… and those who survived who still have nightmares and heavy hearts. It’s something we do every year and this year it’s especially important.
May we never forget.
The second TV show has to do with the toughest book I ever had to write. It’s about a beautiful perfumer who fights the Nazis, is arrested and sent to Dachau… I won’t give away the story except to say my heroine’s ability as a ‘nose’ or perfume creator gives her a different perspective on what survivors of the Holocaust experienced. Her talent puts her in a unique situation to tread on a different plane when she’s sent to the infamous concentration camp near Munich, Germany.
And how she survives…
Doing the research for my book was a soul-searching experience that makes me grateful for every day lived, every meal I enjoy…. every night of blissful sleep. No one coming for you… no beatings, degradation and humiliation (especially the treatment of women by SS guards) no rationing of the simplest things, no privacy, and for so many, no hope.
What sent me into tears tonight was when I saw the liberation of Dachau in color… the camp prisoners’ striped ‘pajamas’, the beetle-green German uniforms, the pure white snow… scorched red brick buildings… the hot yellow flames still burning in the crematoriums.
It was chilling.
What made this book so tough to write goes beyond just reading about the horror these people endured. I tried on a very small scale to experience the physical and mental emotions… wearing the same sweats and socks for a few days, not leaving the house, rationing my food to a bare minimum, deactivating social media to cut myself off so I’d have no idea what was happening the world. Setting my alarm to wake myself at odd hours to get a feeling of the uncertainty of life.
I was a mess in a few days.
I want to emphasize what I did was on an extremely small scale compared to the reality of the camps, but the hunger and feeling unclean and the loneliness became very real to me. It gave me a better perspective on how quickly lives changed when innocent, hard-working good people were rounded up — Jews, Roma, LGBT, political dissidents… even German citizens who simply spoke out against the Reich.
How some were sent to their death immediately, while others went to labor camps, a slow death. (‘You don’t come to Auschwitz to live,’ they said, ‘but to die’.) The prisoners in the camps endured unspeakable conditions for months… years.
So many were lost.
But so many did survive.
And it’s their stories I listened to, watched in documentaries, read in first person accounts. I urge you to do so, too.
We must never forget the Holocaust.
And unite in a sisterhood of remembrance. And never, ever, let it happen again.
My new Paris WW 2 novel is called THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS and is up on Amazon for pre-order. I don’t have a cover yet, but here’s a graphic I put together and the blurb:
‘I will never forget what the Nazi did to me. Never‘
1940, Nazi-occupied Paris. A powerful story of love, tragedy and incredible courage, about one woman whose life is ripped apart by war and risks everything to seek justice. Brand new from the bestselling author of The Resistance Girl.
As Nazis patrol the streets of the French capital, Tiena is alone, desperate and on the run. After defending herself against the force of an officer, she must find a new identity in order to survive.
An accidental meeting with members of the Resistance gives her a lifeline, as she is offered the chance to reinvent herself as perfumer Angéline De Cadieux.
However Angéline will never forget what happened to her, and will do everything she can to seek revenge. But vengeance can be a dangerous game, and Angeline can only hide her true identity for so long before her past catches up with her, with some devastating consequences…
Paris, 2003. When the opportunity arises for aspiring journalist Emma Keane to interview world renowned perfumer Madame De Cadieux about her life during World War Two, she is determined to take it. There are secrets from her own family history that she hopes Angéline may be able to help unlock.
But nothing can prepare Emma for Angéline’s story, and one thing is for certain – it will change her own life forever…
An absolutely heartbreaking, unforgettable historical novel of war, sacrifice and survival. Perfect for fans of Suzanne Goldring, Ella Carey and Catherine Hokin.
I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve.
I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu.
New Moon Beach is a charmed hamlet by the sea. But when Olivia Merriman returns home from college to open her dream shop, Mystique Creations, the entire town erupts in magical chaos.More info →
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