Telling the Story

When I set out to write Kindred I soon realised that I had set myself an enormous challenge. As well as writing a wartime story from a German‘s point of view, I decided I also wanted  to drop JT into Germany to unravel it. This presented a number of issues, not least because as well as setting out to write something bigger and better than before, I now had to write about an unfamiliar land and culture, both past and present, whose language was entirely foreign to me. So I knew early on that Kindred was going to be a difficult book to write.

Up until now, all of my leading characters in the historical narratives of my books have been female, so something new for this book is that it’s the first time I’ve written the past story from a male main point of view. His name is Johann Langner and he’s an officer in the Waffen SS, which presented another big challenge in writing this story, because I know that to ask readers to like a Nazi is a lot to ask.

As well as exploring JT’s ancestral roots, Kindred sets out to answer a question he has been carrying around with him all his life: Why did my mother abandon me? This was an important question for me, too, because believing that no mother could abandon her child lightly, I knew the answer really had to stack up. That was the end I had in mind when I began writing, and it begins with two unlikely friends who met one day at a Hitler Youth training academy, and a girl called Ava Bauer. ‘Ah, there is always a girl, isn’t there?’ as the elderly Johann Langner says

A Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery #5


Kindred was born out of the need to create a compelling story for Jefferson Tayte’s own family history, and I quickly realised that I needed something bigger and better than I had ever written before. That, at least, was the task I set for myself, Whether I’ve achieved that goal, I must leave for the reader to decide.

I often find myself drawn to the Second World War era, and this time was no exception. I don’t fully understand why, but when I’m writing about events set during that time, I get so pulled into the era myself that it was easy for me to decide on this period in world history for the backdrop to Kindred. But I wanted it to be a little different. I wanted to tell it from a German soldier’s point of view.

Research & History

For the reasons explained in ‘Telling the Story’, Kindred turned out to be the most difficult book I’ve ever written, and because of the language barrier, the research was the most intense. It was also in places a harrowing book for me to research and to write. I’ve seen photographs I never want to see again and read accounts I wish with all my heart were works of fiction, but of course the atrocities of World War Two are very real.

There are scenes in Kindred that some readers will find upsetting, although I have tried to be as sensitive as is possible when writing about such terrible events. If reading this book upsets you, I apologise, but I felt it was important to stay true to the realisms of World War Two, rather than to shy away from it. The story will take you to Munich on Kristallnacht, and to places such as Dachau concentration camp. It portrays the inherent violence of total war, although much is left to the imagination.

Back CoverKindred_back_cover.html

‘Sometimes the answer you’re looking for is the last thing you hope to find.’

Being unfamiliar with the methods of tracing German ancestry also made the genealogical research for Kindred difficult. Now there was not just the language barrier to contend with, but   because every country has it’s own way of handling vital records, I also had to understand how genealogical research in Germany works. The types of documents and the details recorded on them are typically very similar to those I’m used to, but the methods of locating genealogical records in Germany are quite different. It is also often hindered by the fact that there is no central repository for birth, marriage, and death records in Germany, and being a country whose boundaries have changed so much over the years, ancestors who once lived in Germany as we know it today, may now be found in records for another country altogether.

So, for many reasons Kindred may have been a difficult book to write, but it was nonetheless a fascinating journey.