She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live. – Annie Dillard
Publisher: Laurel Highlands Publishing
Publication Date: September 17, 2017
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About the Book
Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?
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L: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
HGS: I have always been a dreamer, but also somewhat of an adventurer. Growing up in a small village in southern Germany I spent a lot of time outside, exploring my little world - strolling through the woods or lying in the grass and observing my surroundings. One of my favorite pastimes was watching the sky — clouds forming into all kinds of creatures that shifted, battled, embraced, danced, and played games with each other. In those early days, I started writing poetry. My favorite aunt, a voracious reader, soon infected me with her love of books and on my thirteenth birthday she gave me a diary. I was hooked. I wrote and wrote and wrote — mostly about my life. That diary became my silent confidant, a trusted reservoir into which to deposit the tumultuous thoughts and emotions of my teen years. Mesmerized with language in general, I left home to spend a year in London, England, to enhance my English language skills, before planning to go to France to learn French. However, fate intervened - and I soon found myself moving to the USA. As time went on, marriage, raising a family, plus getting a college education, literally took the wind out of my literary sails. Although I felt some inspiration here and there, I had neither much time nor energy for putting creative thoughts on paper. As much as I regret not writing more during those years, I take some comfort in the fact that acquiring a degree in journalism and interacting with people in a variety of other activities not only improved my English language skills but also contributed material for stories to be written in the future.
L: Who or what inspired you to be an author?
HGS: As I already mentioned, I was smitten with the magic of words even as a youngster. Then, throughout my school years, and in college, the praise I received for my compositions inspired me to devote even more time to tuning my writing skills. Unfortunately, in the process, I greatly neglected math, the one area that had never been my strongest ability. Years later, my marriage over, I finally reconnected with my first passion in life. I like to play with writing styles. And, over the years, my essays, articles, memoirs, and poetry were gradually published in the United States, the UK, and Canada. However, I felt driven to write at least "one full-length novel." At this time, I have completed three - and have a fourth one in the making.
L: Who or what inspired your novel?
HGS: I fall frequently back on experiences - both negative and positive - in my own life, which I then embellish with an imaginary story-line. I also like to use my fictional tales as vehicles to explore issues that are important to me. Therefore, my writing tends to become a mix of human interest and suspense. Even my shorter pieces often include a variety of personal memoirs, ranging from nostalgic to introspective to funny while my debut novel, "Burying Leo," dives head on into exploring the dark world of sexual abuse.
L: What would you say is the genre of your novel?
HGS: Women's Fiction (with an undercurrent of romance and suspense)
L: Why did you pick this/these genre(s)?
HGS: I think that beyond coming up with beautiful and/or powerful words, or putting enchanting, grammatically correct, sentences on paper, maybe a writer could stretch a bit further and turn those special skills into creating a vehicle to deliver a message close to his heart. Since I am personally deeply concerned with abuse of any kind, but particularly the mistreatment of women and children, in "Burying Leo" and one of my novels linked to it, I ended up choosing topics I was driven to tackle.
L: How did you develop your plot and characters?
HGS: "Burying Leo" developed rather gradually. Once again, falling back on a life time of personal experiences, I tried on different versions and various titles of what would eventually give birth to "Burying Leo." Extremely concerned with abuse situations, but also being a fan of mysteries and detective shows, along with an undercurrent of "human interest," I gradually embellished "what I know" with imaginary actions and outcomes that I hoped would give give credence to the strong instincts of survival we all carry within us.
L: Who or what inspired your protagonist?
HGS: Although Ingrid is a fictitious character, she is most definitely a composite of a variety of women I observed (and often admired) throughout life, mostly women who had been caught in some tough situations, but battled through it and came out on top – strong, resilient women. Therefore, Ingrid's hurt, confusion and, ultimately, her vindication resonated deeply with me. She is young, innocent, and very vulnerable. Even after being brutally assaulted, she is still determined to do "the right thing" by attempting to report the crime. She is also wounded, confused, needy, and maybe, therefore, not entirely responsible for some of the things she eventually does. In portraying this young woman's journey, I tried to show how quickly unexpected life can throw us a curve we have no control over - but, ultimately, we are called upon to dealing with the consequences of whatever it was we have to endure.
L: Who or what inspired your antagonist?
HGS: Leo Rohmann, the despicable bar owner who brutally assaults Ingrid, is a composite of men entitled to abuse a position of power to take advantage of a vulnerable woman dependent on their goodwill.
L: What was the most difficult part to write in the book?
HGS: The assault scene!!! However, this is also the part that does clarify what makes Ingrid "tick" throughout the novel.
L: What was your favourite part of your book to write?
HGS: My protagonist's ultimate triumph - in revenging herself and reclaiming her life's dream. When Ingrid, step by step, regains the courage to stand up for herself and finally reclaims her own identity: First in finding her voice again, then in wielding her own unique justice and getting her revenge, and eventually even defying her husband’s dominance.
L: Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
HGS: Cater to my wonderful family!
L: What are you currently reading?
HGS: After recovering from the emotionally onslaught of “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, I am currently relaxing with Abigail Tucker’s extremely informative as well as entertaining non-fiction book, “The Lion in the Living Room” (How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over The World). This particular New York Times bestseller is truly a cat lover’s delight.
L: What are some of your favourite books or authors?
HGS: Among my most memorable first exposures to American literature were the German translations of Pearl S. Buck and Mark Twain. I have since become familiar with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, J.D. Salinger etc. My reading tastes vary. I love the classics and human interest stories, but I like crime fiction as well. One of my favorites in that genre is novelist and screen writer Elmore Leonard. I had the privilege of getting to know him personally. First, coincidentally, we occupied space in the same office building. Then, while I was working toward my journalism degree, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for a college writing assignments. And frankly, I was (and still am) in absolute awe of this prolific writer. Last but not least, I adore William Faulkner. At first it was hard for me to work through some of his dialogues reflecting the speech pattern unique to the American South, but once I became better acquainted with it, I was simply fascinated. I am extremely interested in linguistics, and Faulkner’s way of allowing his characters to communicate in their own local tongue imbues them with a regional quality that really makes their world come alive. But last if not least, after hearing about it for years, I finally read “A Tale of Two Cities” - and I was mesmerized. In applying a strange mix of poetic renderings, precise descriptions, and profound psychological insights, Charles Dickens paints an explicit and sometimes gut-wrenching picture of the often cruel events of the French revolution and the people caught up in it.
L: What are your future projects, if any?
HGS: I am currently editing another novel which slightly links to "Burying Leo." Next, I intend to pull together those multiple diary entries of my youth. After laboriously converting them from shorthand (my special teen year's key to secrecy) into a typed version - before translating it all from German into English - I intend to pull everything together into a something half-ways legible. Even if my life story never makes it into any kind of formal print, I sincerely hope that my early shenanigans will at least elicit an occasional awe and/or chuckle from my descendants.
L: What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
L: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
HGS: My own mantra: "Never give up on following your dreams!"
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Quote of the Month
No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake....
- Alexander Trocchi