The ’80s as History. Feeling Old with Nancy Klann-Moren

There’s a continual argument in histfic circles around what, exactly, qualifies as “historical fiction.” Some say 50 years, others 30.  At the risk of feeling ancient, I think history is anything more than a generation ago, particularly if historical events dictate the story.  That means my high school and college years are, literally, history. (Besides this is my blog, and it is what I say it is.) That brings us to Nancy  Klann-Moren and her book, The Clock of Life. It starts in the 80s, but also goes back to Vietnam and the Civil Rights Era, and if that ain’t history, i’m not sure what is.

What’s your story, Nancy?

Nancy Klann-Moren

My writing journey began as a creative outlet on long plane rides, for work. I dabbled in short fiction.  Eleven are published in the Short Story collection,  Like The Flies On The Patio.  One morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I read an excerpt from a work-in-progress.  When finished, the instructor said, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.”  My first inclination was to reject his suggestion―but, soon realized the seed he’d planted was ready to sprout. My strong beliefs about the subject matter compelled me to write The Clock Of Life.  The novel has garnered awards from Writers Digest, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers Favorite Book Awards, Kindle Book Awards.  It’s a BRAG Honoree, and an Awesome Indies AIA Recipient.

So what’s the “nutshell” version of The Clock of Life?

The Clock of Life is the coming-of-age story of young Jason Lee as he discovers his family’s history and that of those surrounding him.  It takes place in a small Southern town during the 1980’s where the old, unyielding attitudes about race persist, and where he must navigate this communal mindset while his friendship with his best pal, a black boy named Samson Johnson, deepens.

Even though he never knew the man, Jason Lee’s father had been involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and was killed fighting in Vietnam.  Those two important times in our recent history are woven through the story, amplifying their effect on the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.   Beyond the themes of inequality, grief, and a passion for justice, Jason Lee finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right, just because it’s right.

What is it about that time period that speaks to you and makes you want to write about it?

The idea of human inequality and how it comes to be has always baffled me, so the foundation for the book is more emotional than cerebral.  I’m in awe of the heroism it took to bring equal rights for Blacks to the forefront.  Then there was the political fiasco of the Vietnam War, the human tragedy of how our soldiers were treated when they returned home, and the 58,000 young men killed for what?

In the past fifty years, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement were our greatest catalysts for social protest.

Which I guess answers the question about whether it’s “historical” or not. The past continues to ripple through the present. Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

I especially liked the welcoming atmosphere in the local hardware store, where the tang of WD-40 greets you at the door. Where a sign above the old grocery scale reads, “Honor system. Weigh and leave money in the box,” and where Jason Lee uses Pepsi and Nehi bottle caps as checker and sits on a milk stool to play on a faded board fastened to two sawhorses.  During these visits Wally, his father’s best friend, regales Jason Lee with stories of some of his dad’s past escapades.

Where can we learn more about you and The Clock of Life?

The book is available on Amazon. 

The book trailer can be seen here

My website: www.nancyklann-moren.com

My Facebook page

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world.

 

 

Tyrolean Drama with Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Quick, what do you know about Italy after WWI or Austria in 1920? Did you know there was a “German-speaking” part of Italy? Yeah, that’s what I figured. One of the great joys of reading historical fiction is hearing stories you’ve never heard about from places you probably haven’t given much thought to. That doesn’t mean the stories aren’t dramatic, interesting and worth hearing. Enter Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, and her “Reschen Valley” series, beginning with the first book, “No Man’s Land.”

Okay, Chrystyna, what’s your story?

I’m an American ex-pat living out her Grizzly Adams dream in the Austrian Alps. I don’t have a bear, but I do have a dog, a cat, a whole hell of a lot of fat chickadees and a very mild-mannered husband with whom I laugh every day. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana and studied to become a veterinarian.

Then an English professor rescued me.

Or brought you over to the dark side, depending on your outlook, I suppose. In a nutshell, what’s the book–and the series–about?

No Man’s Land is the first in the Reschen Valley series, with five parts spanning from 1920–1950. The Breach, which is part 2, releases March 15th and is on preorder now.

The series take place in South Tyrol, just located south of the Austrian border. In the first part, we are introduced to Katharina Thaler, a Tyrolean farmer whose only remaining family is her grandfather. While out hunting, Katharina stumbles on an Italian engineer who’s been stabbed and left to die on her mountain. Saving Angelo Grimani’s life thrusts both of them into a labyrinth of corruption, greed and prejudice as Katharina is caught between the Tyroleans who are trying to stop the annexation to Italy and the growing Fascist powers that need their land to produce electricity.

What is it about that time period or this particular story that attracted you?

You have to imagine driving south from Austria over the Reschen Pass in the Alps and then crossing the border into Italy. The first thing you expect are pizza and pasta stations, Italian signs, and Italian architecture. But that’s not what happens. It still looks like Tyrol with a few Italian names. In fact, everything is still in German and in Italian and everyone speaks German.

Then it comes: spreading out before you, an unbelievably beautiful lake some 4 miles long and nestled in the alps. The sight takes your breath away. You pass the first town and quickly come upon the next one called Graun / Curon Venosta. And then there it is. Off to the right, some 100 meters from the lakeshore, is a fully intact medieval church tower sticking straight out of the water. My first reaction was, “What the hell happened here?” It took me ten years, and loads of building up my German language skills to find out. When I did, I was horrified that we never learned about this part of history. The Tyrolean-Italian conflict was a huge deal! And the pain of that history is still there, just under the skin, hot as embers and as volatile as gunpowder.

Without spoiling surprises, what’s your favorite scene in No Man’s Land?

I not only love reading but writing the scenes between Angelo Grimani and the Colonel, his father. I tap into my dark side in those scenes, something I keep very well under control and hope I only utilize to write my villains. I consciously set out to make each of my characters complex and three-dimensional. I honestly believe that every person is just trying to do their best. The world is paved with good intentions, they say, but it’s where you lay the pavement that determines whether you’re an a-hole. (Wayne’s note… actually that’s the road to hell, but some days there’s not a lot of difference.)

One of my other favorite parts to write was Chapter 10, which is the baby of the published book. When I sent the script to an editor last summer, she came back and said, “I just don’t think we’re invested in Katharina enough. What does she really want? Make us root for her.”

I did not despair. On the contrary, I was really glad she said something, because in all these years of writing Katharina, I was frustrated and disappointed with her development. I’ve got a female character trapped in a day and age where she just cannot be emancipated. On the contrary, her choices make her want to blend in as much as possible and it was ticking me off that she was fading into the background. After I hung up with the editor and as I was driving to my other job, it hit me like lightening. It was there, I realized. I just had to make it explicit. I knew what Katharina wanted and the threads were all there, I just had to pull them forward. The new Chapter 10 managed to solidify that for me and I was able to pull her back in with great strength.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

You will find me on Goodreads a lot (Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger). I’m doing a Kindle giveaway of No Man’s Land until the 24th of February. If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get the notices of the free Kindle version planned five times between now and April. They’ll only run for 24 hours each time.

You can sign up on my webpage at www.inktreks.com.

Otherwise, for 99 cents, No Man’s Land: Reschen Valley Part 1 is exclusively on Amazon for now.: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078WDPDSJ

Part 2, The Breach,  is on preorder with a March 15th release date.

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction from around the world.