Wednesday, 1 May 2013
All about Clara
Now that I’ve changed the title of my book and this blog it seems appropriate to focus on Clara a little.
I’ve met her before, of course. She built the house on Schellberg Street and offered sanctuary to the “Hilfsklasse” roughly translated, “Special Class” in The House on Schellberg Street. In the strand about this in that novel she appears as a feisty young-at-heart old lady and we have some anecdotal evidence that that she was an optimistic, glass-half-full type of person. I’ve painted her thus and also given her a wicked sense of humour.
The more I work on these stories, the more I am convinced that the Loewenthal-Lehrs-Edler women were truly remarkable. In Clara’s Story I’m having to provide a few reasons why Clara becomes the remarkable woman that she appears to me. She was a Jewish girl in the late 19th century. She marries and has her first two children before the 20th century begins. She brings up three children. Her husband dies too early, at the age of 56. She starts a career five years later at the age of 54. Ah! Now then, there’s something I can relate to. I too had a massive career change at the age of 55.
At the moment she still feels a little elusive to me. She needs some more work. Is this because for the first time I have an adult protagonist? Shouldn’t it be easier because we’re roughly the same age? Or is it because she is from so long ago? The House on Schellberg Street made me understand the 1940s quite well. Now I’m having to learn the years between 1871 and 1939 as well. The main story takes place between 1918 and 1942 but I’m finding I need more and more back story. I’m 22,000 words in and have just reached 1923 but realise I must add in at least a couple of World War 1 scenes.
The research is fascinating though it’s important not to let it interfere with the writing. It must be a supplementary activity. I still find actually writing uncovers some detail about Clara’s psyche and motivations.
I am so glad to have permission to work on this fascinating subject.