It all started from one of those situations where truth was stranger than fiction. In fact the truth was so strange that I eventually decided to self—publish all of my books in the Schellberg Cycle. Most publishers thought it was just too far-fetched: Renate Edler didn’t realise that she was Jewish until a few days before she came to England on the Kindertransport. “How could she not know she was Jewish?” they cried. Well, she just didn’t.
Something else very odd happened at about that time. Her grandmother, the Jewish connection, but long since converted to Lutheranism, sheltered a school for the disabled children in her cellar. It survived there pretty well undisturbed and after the war ended continued much as it had before the Nazi regime arose. In fact it carried on in the house and only moved out when it got too big for this residential property We know that the equivalent of Dad’s Army were asked to destroy it. They refused and the Hitler Youth were charged with the task. They too refused so it was left to the girls. But for some reason they decided to let the children out first. Thank goodness.
Girl in a Smart Uniform attempts to work out how that may have happened. It also looks at what motivated young women to become good BDM members (the girls’ version of the Hitler Youth).
It does contain some people who really lived. Yet they are background figures here. This it to date the most fictional of my stories in The Schellberg Cycle. You can read more about them here.
I find this an interesting process. It’s a little like acting. You have to get into the characters’ heads and work out what they would do in these circumstances. I suppose we might call it imagination. I found this useful at many stages in this project. There are primary resources, repeated experience and this very useful tool: the imagination. It’s as essential for writing historical fiction as it is for fantasy.