Saturday, 9 March 2013
This blog follows on from the Potatoes in Spring one. The House on Schellberg Street tells the story of Clara Lehrs from when her husband dies in 1918 until she herself is murdered in Treblinka. There will be some crossover with Potatoes in Spring. There are also a few flashbacks to her childhood and the early years of her marriage.
There will probably be a number of spoilers in this blog. These are not necessarily ones that I give directly because here I’m mainly talking about my creative process and discussing some of the research. However, some of the links will give some material away. We all probably guessed the main outcome anyway when we read Potatoes in Spring.
This is the first full length piece of fiction I’ve written for adults but I think it will still be readable by young people aged twelve and over – especially those who have read Potatoes in Spring. Arguably both books are actually biography, but there is so much we can’t find out for sure and have to guess and both are written in the style of a novel.
I stumbled upon this story when I wanted to find out something about Haus Lehrs. I knew that was the home of Renate Edler’s grandmother in Stuttgart. I knew that Renate spent a lot of time there as a child. Even when I spent some time in Stuttgart as part of my BA in French and German, Haus Lehrs was known amongst the locals.
“Oh yes,” one of them said. “Haus Lehrs is still there, on Schellberg Street.”
That was in 1973. I never dreamt that one day that statement would practically be the title of a book I’d write.
When I started Renate’s story, I Googled “Haus Lehrs” and was taken to the Stolperstein web site. The essence of Clara’s story is there. Renate used to tell us of a school that was hidden but came out into the open. It must have been the one that was run in 20 Schellberg Street, surely.
As I worked further on Renate’s story, I began to realise what an incredible woman Clara Lehrs was. She deserved to have her story told too.At the moment there are only a few traces of her. Hopefully I will find a few more. I’m starting out on a journey and I’d like to invite you along.