Interview with Helene Leuschel, author of The Memories We Bury, a contemporary psychological novel.
An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.
Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.
Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?
In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.
1. Tell me (and the readers) a little bit about yourself, including a quirk that you have.
A. First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to feature on your beautiful blog again. I enjoyed answering all your questions!
I was born in Brussels of German parents and loved growing up in Belgium. I enjoy multi-cultural and multi-lingual communities and that’s what Brussels offers. After my Master in journalism and communication I decided to apply for a job in London because I fell in love with the city when I first visited it at the age of thirteen while on a language course in Cambridge. I got a job as a reporter/producer and worked with people from all corners of Europe as well as journalists from the US. It was a great place to spend my twenties! London is also the place where I met my future husband, a Scotsman. We lived in Edinburgh for a year before relocating to Brussels and then moving to Portugal.
Hm, a quirk of mine? I think it’s that first cup of English tea first thing in the morning. I need it before I can do anything else… apart from, hmm reading of course, I need to read a few pages before I can start the day. So a cup of tea and a book is what you see me with first thing in the morning 😊
2. How did the idea for your book, The Memories We Bury, come about?
A. In my novella ´My Sweet Friend‘, I already explored the theme of toxic female friendships. However in my new novel, I wanted to take it to the next level by looking at how motherhood can distort your perceptions and make you vulnerable to narcissistic predators. I’d planned on setting one of my novels in Edinburgh and decided it was the right setting for two women meeting through chance because they become next door neighbours. I decided that alternating chapters between each of their POV would bring out the intensity of each other’s involvement, while Lizzie’s husband Markus lack of it contributed to the downward spiral. I won’t say any more so I don’t spoil my own book. Haha.
3. What was the most enjoyable and stressful part about writing this book?
A. The most stressful part is always the editing – what to keep, what to chuck out and find the strength to be brave to make changes in the plot if I find out that another idea would fit much better. You need to know your characters so well that you can work out what doesn’t sound plausible and which behaviour may clash with their way of thinking.
4. Who was the first person you asked to read your book after it was ready and why them?
A. My first reader has always and will always be my husband. He never sugarcoats his suggestions and his honesty makes a big difference in the way I approach the text during edits. I’ve come to learn that one very critical reader outweighs ten beat-readers because they are hard to find yet crucial at each level of drafts and editing stages.
5. Are you planning to release another book anytime soon?
A. My next novel is in progress and I’d like it to be ready for publication in 2021.
6. If you could venture into a different genre, which would you choose to write on?
A. I’d love to venture into the science-fiction genre because of my interest in artificial intelligence.
7. Did you always know you wanted to be a published author/poet?
A. I’ve grown up a lover of books and as a child I could not imagine a better job than being a writer or working in a profession that relates to books. I still think so now. I breathe books like you breathe in air.
8. Did you look up to any author or poet while growing up?
A. I looked up to Enid Blyton as a young reader. She sowed the seed in my head that I wanted to write books, too, one day. I especially enjoyed her series about the Famous Five and The Twins at St Clare’s, the latter because I am a twin myself. In my teens and as a YA I became enthralled by philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir, Jacqueline Harpman as well as Doris Lessing and Toni Morrison. My favourite poet of all times and one I turn to again and again is Mary Oliver. Her poems are alive, meaningful and never fail to pick me up or make me enjoy the moment.
9. I’ve always talked about this, but if your book was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?
A. In the book, I compare the main character Lizzie with the actress Kristen Stewart and I’d say she’d be my first choice.
10. Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers out there?
A. There are many excellent books out there which offer great tips on how to hone your craft (such as Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin to name just a few) and books on style, how to develop plot and a structure but in my view all starts with reading A LOT. Try and understand why certain books capture your attention more than others, what is it that grabs you, moves you, makes you think and makes you want to turn the page way past midnight?
If you’ve got a story to tell, find a routine you can sustain (for instance aim to write 1000 words every day at least), always have a notebook or electronic device at hand so when you have an idea you can jot it down immediately. Lastly there is no better teacher to find out how to write and that is your own dedication and practice. When you read through what you’ve written, you need to be your toughest critic, erase passages that you toiled over for hours, sometimes days because it simply doesn’t work. You’ll learn from your errors, and accepting that it’s hard work a ultimatley rewarding when it’s finally edited and ready to be published.
Full Review: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCFpcF6A9CZ/?igshid=1hl1ggytco748
Author’s Instagram: https://instagram.com/haleuschel?igshid=15hxw572fx4k
Melina L. 🦄