FICTION SET IN REALITY ( WWII – London & Paris)
SEXUAL CONTENT (Integral)
My words are in blue. Mike’s words are in black italics.
“Frenchie” sobriquet for the French Resistance hero of this tale, is one kick ass martial arts fighter. She can kill a nazi in the blink of an eye. She uses guns, knives and her head. Her head has two uses; thinking and butting. Fearless, she will use her sexuality, in more ways than one.
Sex born of choice, no matter one’s sexual persuasion, is nobody’s business but theirs. Yet, when the ‘I own the world’ male of the species hold sway: women young, old and in-between beware! Those male scum bag’s brawn trumps feminine delicacy and brains. It’s been that way ever since poor Eve copped the blame for tempting a namby-pamby Adam in the supposed Eden. The Nazi’s history in that regard is a classic example of contemptible lowlife abusing the fairer sex at will.
Although fiction, the whole nazi thing is difficult to read about. However, after a slow start, Frenchie got to me. I had to know her next move.
I asked Mike a few questions, and in the end his answers serve better than any further review I could write. He provided two Leonard Cohen songs. The last question I ask, explains why.
1 – This tale is fiction set in the reality of World War II. We are predominantly in London and Paris. Where and/or how did you learn of: what London & Paris looked like, felt like and how people survived or died in those war years?
Born and bred in South London not that long after the end of the war, our two-up; two-down terraced hovel was on the opposite side of the main drag toward The Smoke. It scarred the already dubious, giant field of broken bricks, redesigned concrete slabs, shattered glass, bent pipes and later, dandelions by the millions. Oh yes, there were broken kettles, crushed teddy bears, lonely bed springs and crumpled shoes as well.
Prior to the bombing of said dubious field, it had housed many families most of whom died on impact. The view from my bedroom has never left me. It has a habit of creeping into both my dreams and nightmares. Because of this, its proximity to the city, its rebuilding of all things flattened and along with my day trips there, it has always had me imagining ‘what if I’d lived through that?’
As to Paris, I’ve visited more times than I can count. London I find bland and devoid of finesse. Not so The City of Love. It’s an ‘art versus science’ differential. The art of Paris always wins out insofar as I am concerned. What I know of Paris during the war was born of a combination of idle chat with its aging citizens and my research addiction.
To this day, given the choice and in the knowledge that the deadliest conflict in human history was shortly kicking-off, I would have no qualms about taking residence there.
The period twixt the two wars was, in Paris and particularly its bohemian district known as Montparnasse, a haven for free-thinkers and artists of all genres. They called it ‘The Crazy Years’…ask F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, to name but a tiny few.
2 – I first heard of the Nazis and the concentration camps as a child. I read “”The Diary of Ann Frank, when I was a young teen. Over the years movies and documentaries have added to my knowledge of the atrocities perpetrated.
Your story focuses in on certain detailed horrors the Nazis inflicted on young, pretty women that were not of the Aryan ilk. I am speaking of the women that were not sent to camps, but were kept for the Nazis own brutal form of enjoyment.
Where did you learn of these abominations?
‘People with dementia never lie’, so said the boss of the care home my father found himself in not long before his death aged 89. Fortuitously he only lost his mind in the last two years of his life.
The thing was, during his time in the ‘home’, he truthfully thought he was back in Stalag 8B POW camp near Kraków, Poland. Only a throw of a cricket ball away from the Auschwitz concentration camp, it doubled up as an extermination equivalent.
Aged 20 at the time, my father had been captured outside of Dunkerque when his lorry ran out of fuel. He’d spent the entire war banged up in said stalag. He never spoke of the war during his days of sanity. Come the madness he relived it. He saw the staff at the care home as armed guards, daily forcing him to dig for coal down the mines of Silesia, his ankles always tethered in chains. This initial talk of his, of such hideous happenings, is a mere example; there were many more like it.
I took his chatter to be gobbledygook. However, since then I’ve been able to verify such evil, as was inflicted upon his person.
What pray has that got to do with ‘women that were not sent to camps’? In terms of what’s stored inside my head, everything. Dad got to speak passable German. He and others sometimes got to chat with a friendly sentry, sometimes with the local Polish girls who handed out meagre rations. More often than not it was ‘cat meat’, not that he knew that at the time.
What the old boy told me regarding the treatment of women from conquered lands, be it under the knife of sicko doctors seeking to sterilize those not considered worthy of the ‘master-race’ at one extreme, rape by selection of the Nazi hierarchy or ‘a treat for the troops’ for no other reason than ‘we can’, was…well I’ve not a ‘word’ that gets even close to describing my father’s account.
However, he had inadvertently sent me on an eternal quest. Probing for verification through printed books, apposite telephone calls and via Google searches it was clear my father was not delivering a sick man’s exaggerations nor bonkers induced fibs. Quite the opposite. I’d rather say no more regarding those abominations we speak of. My book, fierce as some of its contents may be, doesn’t come close to what’s stored in the library of my mind.
I should add, to this day I have a printed pile of research far bigger than the book itself…a pile I’ll likely never read again.
3 – In your author’s opinion, what percentage of your tale is factual, what percentage is extrapolation and what percentage is complete fiction?
Cruel deeds taken by the Nazi’s as a matter of perverse motive ‘true’ in method only. Places, events and characters, all fiction based on fact. Basically, the whole of this book is entirely fictional, including the imagined actions of prominent WW2 leaders. Only the generality of well researched Nazi cruel habits, along with just the names and places of towns and cities in Europe and beyond are truthful. The bit I have to say on pain of death is ‘any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events within this book is wholly coincidental’.
4 – Chapter 15 opens with the telling of French actress Arletty, and her affair with a Nazi officer. It ends with a quote of hers. Is this factual?
‘Tis all factual. Ms Arletty was a charming girl who loved life. A French actress, singer, and fashion model, she was found guilty of treason for an affair with a German officer. I understand she served out her sentence in her own house. Good on her! Her quote when being interrogated by the French Forces of the Interior just after the war, says it all, ‘My heart is French, but my ass is international’
Chapter 15 was prompted by her unfair…to my mind…ridiculous treatment. She, like many other French girls, chose to have an affair with the enemy. I see no crime in that, and would lay odds that had it been the other way around the males of France wouldn’t have given a tuppenny toss. As mentioned earlier, “Sex born of choice, no matter one’s sexual persuasion, is nobody’s business but theirs.”..an irrelevance that somehow irked both the religious and the jealous into making it a crime.
In this regard, certain French men were as bad as Nazi’s. Post the war, male patriots were prone to take matters into their own hands. Across the country you’d chance upon girls hanging dead from the branch of a tree as punishment for frolicking with a German soldier. Mainly, their hostile foes would shave off the hair on their heads and march them through the town in front of an audience. Also, it was not uncommon for the accused to be stripped naked, and like the shaved head girls dragged through an angry mob, humiliated. Plainly, The Snow White Tigress would have none of this in her tale. Indeed, she made double sure such thugs got their comeuppance.
5 – As a matter of fact, chapter 13 opens with a report by Franz Mawick. Is this factual?
Franz Mawick, like Arletty, was genuine, his report also, his story heart-breaking.
6 – At the start of chapter 16, you quote 4 lines from “Suzanne”, by Leonard Cohen. Written 21 years after the war, it has nothing to do with the war, yet it works for the story.
Why Leonard Cohen? Why not one of the many famous poets from the WWII years, Cecil Day-Lewis, Lewis Aragon, Ana Swir, etc.?
Well, Leonard Cohen was born in September of 1934, five years before the outbreak of war. He may have lived an ocean away, yet of Jewish heritage he would have been aware of the racism’s goings on. More importantly though, be it in song, as poetry or as a novel, his work is at its best when it’s reflective of life’s events. His song, ‘Dance Me To The End of Love’ is all about The Holocaust. Dipping deeper into his portfolio reveals another song, ‘The Partisan’ where he speaks of the plight of the French Resistance…a subject integral to my book.
For me, the main thing is that this book has added more to; what should never be forgotten to be remembered. Did I like it? Yes, but No. I hope Mike and all take this as the compliment it’s meant to be.
Find Mike on his Blog: THE DRIVELLINGS OF TWATTERSLEY FROMAGE
Find The Snow White Tigress and his 8 other books on Amazon by clicking on the cover of the Blue-Eyed Cat above. (A fab read IMHO)
George Blamey-Steeden made this promo for The Snow White Tigress. The music is original.
You can hear George’s music on his blog- George Blamey-Steeden
You can download his albums starting at £5 GBP by visiting George’s Bandcamp site. Just click on the cover of his album “Devil’s Kiss”, (above) and you will find yourself there!