Guest blog by Rose Seiler Scott
Even with my eyes closed, I would have known I was in my Oma’s house. The aroma of woodsmoke and sauerkraut permeated everything from the air to the brightly coloured afghans draped over the couches. When it was time to leave, it was rarely without a small gift— multi-coloured tomatoes from the garden or a bag of homemade spaetzle noodles. Her cabbage rolls and homemade donuts were famous at family gatherings.
In her late 80’s she was hospitalised with a grave and mysterious illness. After a few weeks the doctors did not seem to know what to do with her, so they placed her in palliative care, figuring she probably didn’t have that long. But they didn’t know my grandmother. Struggle and hardship had marked her past and this illness was not about to stop her until she was good and ready. Over the next few months she fought her way back to health and home. Once again, she was making sauerkraut and tending her beloved garden as much as she could manage.
Her recovery was a turning point for me, a second chance to make a serious go of a novel based on her life. As I wrote, I was inspired by her determined spirit, work ethic, and appreciation for the simple pleasures of home. In the novel Threaten to Undo Us, the character “Liesel” strongly reflects this. A product of the times she lives in, she doesn’t stray much beyond traditional roles as a wife and mother, but it is also clear her character has chosen this domestic life for herself. She takes joy in serving her family and maintaining her home and farm.
The catalyst for the story is World War Two and its aftermath in Poland. These events move Liesel’s basic needs and desires out of reach. Buffeted by forces beyond her control, Liesel places her hope in Divine Providence and draws on her inner strength of character. Determination and resourcefulness are necessary tools for survival in the new regime and develop through suffering and separation from her family.
In a way, writing the book mirrored this for me in a small way. Because I experience frequent migraines, the book was written in fits and starts and I often didn’t remember where I had left off. The best source material was in German and Polish which made research frustrating, often leading to more questions than answers. When I felt like giving up, I thought of what Oma had lived through and it kept me going. Even after she passed, her strength of character propelled me forward to finish what I started.
Rose Seiler Scott lives in British Columbia. She has enjoyed writing since fifth grade, but her career path took several turns before completing her first novel, based on a compelling family story. Winner of the historical fiction category in The Word Guild 2016 awards, Threaten to Undo Us (2015) is the result of years of research, revealing history little known in the Western world. During the process she came to realize that not only is truth stranger than fiction, but truth can be told through fiction.
Rose is a contributing writer in HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON (OCT 2015) and CHRISTMAS WITH HOT APPLE CIDER (2017), compilations of inspirational short stories.
If you like historical fiction, check out my new novel The Greenest Branch, based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. It is out now in ebook and paperback on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and several other Amazon marketplaces.