Researching the background for Julia’s Violinist…Anneli Purchase

It’s my great pleasure to welcome back – Anneli Purchase! Anneli was here talking about copyediting tips in November 2012. Since then she has released a NEW book and today she’s here to tell us all about it! Anneli is a superb writer and her stories always have an interesting setting….

Front Cover  jpg (1)(2)Julia’s Violinist,” has a rather unique setting and storyline. It begins in post-WWII Europe and ends in Canada, about 1975.

Julia, grew up in a small rural town, expecting a normal happy life, but war shatters all her hopes and dreams. She is 32 and widowed with two small children. Like thousands of her fellow Sudetenlanders, she is driven out of her country. Strangers take over her home and all her possessions. She survives their brutal lust for revenge for Hitler’s mistreatment of them, survives the harsh conditions of refugee camps, survives disease and starvation. Transported across the German border, she tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. She remarries, perhaps more for security than for love.J

She is rebuilding her life in war-torn Germany, when the young man she loved more than twenty years ago writes to tell her he has been searching everywhere for her. He still loves her and wants her to come to him. Such is Julia’s dilemma when her husband hands her the letter with the Canadian postmark.

Researching the background for Julia’s Violinist

In writing a novel that covers real events of such magnitude, an author must be sure to have her facts straight. A love story set in these times and circumstances required more than the usual research. How did I do this?

The Sudetenland area, where 3 million German-speaking people had lived for over 700 years, once belonged to Austria-Hungary, but was given to Czechoslovakia after WWI as one of “the spoils of war.” After WWII, my mother was one of the many victims of the great expulsion of Germans from the Sudetenland area.

Much of the first-hand information came from things my mother told me. Many other questions were answered by some of the other immigrants who lived in our town in northern British Columbia.

While vacationing in Mexico, I was fortunate enough to have an elderly German couple living in a bungalow next door to me. Much of my background information about schools and transportation of the early 1900s in Berlin came from this couple.

Information regarding dates of airstrikes and events that would have affected my characters came from the Internet. It was handy in describing the politics of the time and the names and policies of the various political parties. Although my mention of them in the novel is brief, I had to have my facts straight.

Researching towns that had sanitariums that treated tuberculosis was another task for which I used the Internet.

Maps I found online showed where the railway lines were in those days.

I was grateful for the information provided in Giles MacDonogh’s book entitled “After the Reich.” An excellent resource!

My sister Hanna was a huge help to me with descriptions of the places and events I needed for my novel. Although she was very young at the time, some events were so traumatic that they were etched in her mind even into her old age. She was a constant excellent resource to me while she was alive. She read and approved the first draft of the book, but I sorely regret that she didn’t live to see Julia’s Violinist published.

Anneli Purchase

About the Author:

Anneli Purchase has written many articles for magazines, and is the author of three novels: “The Wind Weeps,” “Orion’s Gift,” and “Julia’s Violinist.” A retired teacher, she spends her time as a freelance copy-editor and author. She lives on Vancouver Island where she enjoys many outdoor pursuits. Currently she is working on her fourth novel.

You can find out more about Anneli Purchase and her books by clicking on the links below.

Thank you Anneli for visiting and sharing with us what is quite an eye-opening account of your research. It must have been so hard for your mother, and your lovely sister Hanna, to recount what they had lived through. However, this is a lasting tribute and I hope it’s an amazing success!
Twitter  @anneli33