Explain your philosophy of writing. I suppose I could be flippant and say, just to get it finished. But actually, over the years I’ve drawn on my interest in history and melded it with what I hope is a good yarn. I’d like readers to come away with a sense of the period and how it relates to contemporary themes in American life. And I’d like my stories to have resonance through subtext.
Why did you write this book?
Dietrich was an extraordinary woman. She kept her movie audience spellbound, but she was far more than just alluring. She was very political, a vehement anti-Nazi. And she was courageous. Although she’s not the central character in The Plot Against Marlene Dietrich, she’s waiting in the wings on every page. I wanted to readers to know how she helped fellow artists, particularly Jewish ones, escape Nazi Germany. And also, what a great American patriot she was. Dietrich emigrated from Germany in 1931. It’s not easy leaving the country of your birth and helping bring down its despots. Though she could be difficult at times, Dietrich had an unflinching grasp of what was right and decent about people and politics. There’s a contemporary message there.
What do you find most difficult about writing? That’s an easy one: writing! Dorothy Parker famously said, “People don’t want to write, they just want to have written.” The most difficult thing for me is actually sitting down at the computer. After that, it’s a hell of a lot easier.
Is there a certain type of character you like to write about? Yes, a character a bit bewildered by his time, or a character that wants to change his destiny. In The Plot Against Marlene Dietrich I have a recurring character, detective Alex Rada. The thing about Rada is, he appears in several of my works, all in different time periods. And he’s the same age in all of them. Some readers have asked how can I get away with that? Well, fiction is like the unconscious in many ways. There doesn’t have to be a time and place there. Early on, I was captivated by Kafka’s A Hunger Artist – absolutely no time or place in that masterpiece
Do you have a special routine you go through before you begin writing? Yes, I pray a lot.
Who will enjoy and benefit from reading this book? Most readers I hope. I write, not only to tell a good story, but also to inform. To shine a searchlight on historical moments that are not illuminated very often, but are important moments. While, it’s true that some of my work, like The Principal of Rivington Street, has a Jewish flavor, all of my work is very accessible. And occasionally, I’ll throw in a joke or two. History can be funny. Or is it, “history repeats itself, once as tragedy and once as farce.”
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You can find the author on Twitter: @HenryMazel
The Plot Against Marlene Dietrich ISBN: 978-1-4660-4482-1 ASIN: B00588T5NW
Price: 99¢ on e-books everywhere