A new Author coming to you this week.
Katherine is excited about her novel and she is with us today to tell us all about it.
Read on my friends.
Katherine Melanie is a teacher and a writer originally from Winnipeg,
Manitoba. Inspired by her love of history, Katherine has written her first
novel, Her. She is a proud Kelvinite who pursued her higher education at the
University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, eventually receiving her
master’s degree at the University of Newfoundland.
Katherine has lived in several provinces as well as spending two years in Japan. She takes to travelling whenever she finds the opportunity, or creating one if she has to wait too long. She has a passion for history and cultures that cannot be satiated. At this point in her life, she has visited much of the world and is planning to visit the rest.
She resides in the Canadian Maritimes with her family. They live alongside several chickens, three dogs, and a few wild turkeys when the urge hits them to visit. She received the Queen’s Jubilee medal for her outstanding contribution to education, community, and volunteer firefighting, as well as for her leadership and convening skills among the diverse peoples of her region.
In the haunting aftermath of the Second World
War, a war correspondent embarks on a poignant quest to understand the woman he
once loved and who spurned him. As he journeys through the war-torn streets of
Europe, he unravels a tale that she never dared to share. Amidst the backdrop
of their passionate love story, he uncovers a harrowing narrative, of
brutality, sexual abuse, and the indomitable spirit to overcome such darkness.
This tale delves deep into the heart of war's monsters and heroes, exploring
the profound impact of their deeds on those in their wake.
novel is a thoroughly researched and documented historical story written about
many little-known moments of the war and its aftermath. This novel also
includes with several original literary choices including removal of all names,
and a deliberate lack of description of the elusive main love interest. Despite
all characters being nameless many of the secondary characters are historical
and often speak in their own words. Historical photographs and quotes at the
beginning of each chapter anchor the story to real history. Readers with a
passion for details can find the name of historical figures and sources at the
back of the book. This book is well suited for book clubs with its purposefully
open-ended characters, social commentary, and historical details.
Story Behind the Story: I
am passionate about reading, history, and social issues like feminism. More
than 15 years ago, I started to write the perfect novel that I wanted to read.
My narrator is British man which seems like an unusual choice for as a Canadian
woman. But it is from his point of privilege that what happens to her during
the war is interpreted.
I should preface
talking about my book by explaining that there are no names in the book which
is not hard to read but it is hard to talk about in a conversation like this
one. I wanted to emphasize his voice by having all characters labelled by their
relationship to the narrator. For example, there is his mother, sister, love
but also the general (who is not a general), a lovely fairy flitting away in
the morning light, and his butterfly.
I also wanted to
write a story that subtly relied on the reader for details. The love interest
in the story has not one single word that describes her appearance, her voice,
or her nationality except to say that the narrator finds her beautiful. By
removing the descriptors, the reader will make assumptions about beauty based
on their own ideas.
I read book by Kate Quinn called the Alice Network that I really
enjoyed. However, when I read the note at the end of the book and realized it
was based on real diaries and letters, I appreciated the story even more
knowing that some of the details were true. My head is full of historical facts
and anecdotes that I find fascinating. I loved the experience of weaving them
into a book. I used journals, interviews, radio recordings, my travel, museum
exhibits, and photographs to inspire the settings and events of the story. For
example, the three students who stopped the 20th convoy train with
nothing but a lamp and a pistol, the mass killings of the Einsatzgruppen lead
by a ‘compassionate’ leader, the farmer milking his cows on D-Day, the iceberg
aircraft carrier, and the pigeons at the 1936 Olympics are all real-life extraordinary
details that are more or less important in my story.
When I started writing 15 years ago, I wrote about a quarter of
the book then I forgot about it as other parts of my life took over. In 2021, I
felt like my life was in a rut and my son suggest I take up a hobby that would
make me happy. Soon after, I found my unfinished novel and took it up again. In
the following month I wrote 50,000 words and basically finished the story. Of
course, I am no Beethoven creating a masterpiece in one go – it did take
another year of editing, researching, feedback, and rewriting before I got it
to its current form.
Website: Please go HERE.
A couple questions
before you go, Katherine:
Scribbler: Can you tell us
about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or
quiet? Coffee or tequila? Neat or notes
Katherine: I do not have a straightforward
answer to this. Mostly, I write on my couch on the porch in the summer and
curled up in the chair by the fire in winter on my laptop. Ideas often come to
me as I sleep and as I drive so I will take notes on my phone (“Siri take a
note”). Also my son, who is also a writer, helps me work through blocks in my
story when we walk together in the woods. I do like it quiet to write, as it
gives my brain room to follow a train of thought.
Oh, and tea – not coffee or tequila because both keep me from thinking
Scribbler: How do you decide on
the title for your novel? Did you have one when you started or later?
Katherine: The title for this
novel came to me pretty early on. Though ‘her’ is such a simple word the lack
of detail reflects the essential mystery of her past that drives the story. The
narrator is completely in love with a woman that he is with for a time but
actually knows nothing about. The isolated word ‘her’ all by itself also echoes
the single-minded obsession with which he pursues information about her.
Giving a title is a challenging task because you need to embody a whole
story in few words. But in general, I would say that I come up with the title
once the story has a shape that I can name.
|"Eve" by Anna Lea Merrit
My heart had often lurched in my
chest over the last three years as I mistakenly glimpsed a desired silhouette,
but this time it was not allowed to resume its steady rhythm. She was actually
there in the opera box above me. The cacophony of the orchestra tuning its
instruments, and the titillating gossip of the crowd faded to a dry hum. I was
only vaguely aware of those around me preening at their very best to see and be
seen on opening night. All of it became a monochrome backdrop to the vision of
her. My damp palms gripped the wooden arm rest and the faux velvet cushion
shifted beneath me. My date was thrilled to be front row centre on such a night
and chirped cordially with my mother who eagerly awaited the debut of her
prodigy as the Spanish seductress.
Once the lights went down
and the brilliant spectacle on stage unfolded, I only looked sideways toward
the opera box. For a time, she was obscured by a railing, but as the music
rose, she leaned forward into it, bringing her half smile into the warm light
radiating from the stage. I could not make out her mouth, but I knew she would
be singing under her breath as she knew all the words, having sung them while
my sister played the music on the piano years ago. I wished I could make out
her eyes which I knew would be sparkling. The orchestra spoke to me of the
emotions unfit for words in its notes of anguish, love, and passion.
I soaked in every shaded
detail of the way the silk of her azure dress clung to her skin in places and
in others floated around barely grazing her shoulders. I was jealous of the
fabric that tickled her skin and longed to feel the warmth of her. My gaze remained
feverishly riveted to her despite her obliviousness to me. I unsuccessfully
willed her to look down at me. Instead, the stocky middle-aged louse next to
her sensed my gaze and laid an arm around her shoulders as he scanned the
darkened crowd below him. Her date was rewarded for his possessiveness with a
smile. He basked in her affection and grasped at her even more tightly.
I had thought that the
deep wound in my soul had healed but it split open revealing feelings that were
just as raw as they had been when she left me three years ago. The longing was
still an unsatiable hunger. My feelings echoed the opera unfolding on stage. I
too had willingly given everything to be with the woman of my fantasy. Like the
shattered hero, I also watched helplessly as she moved in the arms of another
man. Unlike him, I could never harm her, but I could relate to the pain that
drove him to kill her. Rejection of such a perfect love is akin to madness. The
auditorium felt too hot with a cloying mixture of perfumes.
Finally, the soprano
perished in her former lover’s arms and the chorus belted out, ‘Toreador’ once
more. I did not even wait for the lights to come on as I bolted from my seat,
rudely pushing my way out into the aisle leaving my date gaping like a drowning
fish. From the mezzanine, I scanned the lobby below as the audience flowed out
the doors. There she was, on his arm, working their way through a throng of
opportunists trying to lobby for his attention. The man kept an arm around her,
and she was willingly ushered through, flashing a timid smile to those who
I worked my way through
their entourage dodging and weaving like one of those dancers on stage.
Hesitating as I drew near, I realized that there were no words to greet her;
yet this could be the only opportunity to ever see her again. I moved closer
and tapped her shoulder by reaching around some purple-haired elderly woman.
For a brief sparkle in time, her eyes locked with mine. In that moment, the
woman I once knew surfaced on her features with a sexy flush and a spontaneous
smile. The submissive consort she was now playing was temporarily vanquished by
the vivacious woman beneath the illusion. Her shoulders and her chin lifted
confidently. However, a breath later she caught herself and rearranged a more
timid version of her smile and turned to lavish it on the man at her hip. He
blossomed. Those near him tried to hide their awkwardness at his obvious
display of affection by looking away. Without a word, I had been dismissed.
Her tense averted posture
implied that I would not be allowed any closer, so I retreated to the mezzanine
and contented myself with taking pictures of them. My editor would never
publish any of the pictures anyway for fear of arousing the man’s wife. Nonetheless,
I swallowed my empty jealousy and snapped pictures for my own fix. I considered
the new smell of her perfume.
Through the window, I
watched him usher her into his car and the chauffeur eased them into the
traffic. I feverishly considered, then rejected, the possibility of following
them despite her cold dismissal.
Restless and unable to
consider either going home or going out, I pointed my own car downtown toward
the office without finding my date to even try to offer an excuse. I used my
key to get in the backdoor and went straight to the dark room. Closeted with
the photography chemicals, I kept vigil around dishes, waiting for her image to
appear. Looking at her photograph would be a small dose to feed my snapping
hunger. The images on the drying line slowly revealed her as they shimmered
into existence. They revealed her hair, her nose, and the eyes that hinted at a
depth that cannot be reached. I revisited the details of her not visible in the
photographs; she also has a scar that runs the base of her hair line, a burn
from some long-extinguished fire. Only one who had run their fingers through
her hair would know it was there.
The next day, in the
newsroom, her picture triggered little concrete information from my fellow
snoops. She was certainly the Lord’s new consort. No one knew where she came
from or even her last name. The society columnist thought that maybe they had
met on vacation in Rome somewhere. Predictably, the editor was annoyed with my
wasting film on a couple whose elicit, though public, image could never be put
on record. He considered our newspaper to be above trashy tabloids.
She is pretty but it is
not her flesh that rivets people to her presence. Eye colour and lips have
little to do with the way people feel her energy in a room. It is something
more real than an ephemeral shell of a body. Those who have seen her seek a moment
with that spirit. We are moths to a flame. And even though we cannot touch it
or contain it, we feel thankful for the full force of the moment that she
brings us into.
The first time we made eye
contact, I was mesmerized by both her vitality and vulnerability. And yet from
that first time we looked at each other until today I have not been allowed to
know the parts that she keeps hidden. Her power is the paradoxical joy and pain
of being able to mingle breath with that beautiful soul and without the ability
to truly hold on to her. She is a star that illuminates the dark.
I gave up my job, my home,
and my heart to search for nuggets of her story. It was a journey with little
hope of a happy ending but the fantasy of her gave me intention anyway. After
that night at the opera, I lost her again. When I finally saw her once more,
even though I knew more of her secrets, I was still unprepared for her.
Thank you for being
our guest this week, Katherine. We wish you continued success with your
And a ENORMOUS thank you to all our readers and visitors.
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