|Belinda Castles won the Australian/Vogel Award back in 2006 for The River Baptists and, while it has been some time between drinks, she has returned in 2012 with her second novel Hannah & Emil. She recently spoke to Jessica Au for "Readings":|
Tell us about writingHannah & Emil - where did the idea start for you?
Hannah and Emil is based on the lives of my grandparents. As a child I knew bits and pieces about their lives but there were two secrets that emerged when my German grandfather died. One was that my grandmother was Jewish, and so then were her sons, and that my grandfather had had a German family before meeting my grandmother. His German son died fighting for the Hitler Youth Army. This was made doubly poignant because my grandfather's father was murdered by the Nazis.
These facts stayed with me and later in life, when I received a batch of letters my grandmother had written to Melbourne from Kent after WWII to friends there, I felt that I had her voice. As soon as I expressed interest in writing this book, there was a deluge of papers, photographs, anecdote - a real treasure trove. It became something I had to do, a responsibility to my family and to myself.