Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rebecca Cantrell

Rebecca Cantrell's new novel is A City of Broken Glass.

From her Q & A with Kilian Melloy at EDGE:

EDGE: The new novel in the Hannah Vogel series finds Hannah and her son, Anton, in Berlin just before Kristallnacht--the infamous "Night of Broken Glass." This is a huge historical point for the era of the series, of course. What went into plotting out how to involve Hannah in the events of the time?

Rebecca Cantrell: "A City of Broken Glass" was the hardest Hannah Vogel novel to research and write, hands down. I spent about a year immersed in the days leading up to Kristallnacht and the pogrom itself. I relied heavily on first person accounts, many available online at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, Saul Friedlander’s "Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume I: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939," and Victor Klemperer’s "I Will Bear Witness."

I wanted Hannah to start in Poland, where the events that would trigger Kristallnacht happened, so I ended up researching innocuous reasons to send her and Anton there.

In the end, she’s sent to write a fluff piece about the St. Martin’s Day celebration. Your average reporter might be able to stay out of trouble with an assignment like that, but not Hannah! She went straight to the refugee camp at Zbaszyn and was immediately engulfed in the tragedy.

In my research, I was struck by how intensely personal the events of Kristallnacht were. I’ve seen and read much about the destruction of Jewish institutions during the pogrom-storm troopers burning synagogues, smashing shop windows, and looting businesses.

What I found in the survivor accounts the less well known personal side-tales of neighbors a child had known all her life smashing down the front door, breaking all the windows, smashing the glass covering photographs, taking a hammer to the jars of honey in the pantry, slashing through beds and sofas and teddy bears.

It wasn’t just the ability to gather together and worship publicly that was destroyed that day: it was also the ability of any Jewish person in Germany to...[read on]
Visit Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog.

Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. Her Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s includes A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Trace of Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: A Game of Lies.

My Book, The Movie: A Game of Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue