Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Guest Post—Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to bring you a very special  guest post from debut author, Daniela Tully. Today she talks about German fairytales! Please make sure to support her by picking up a copy of her novel. Without further ado...
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Published: April 10, 2018
Genre: historical; mystery
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.

Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.

Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth.

A fairy tale – and a farewell letter, lost for 46 years.
I still remember that afternoon clearly. It was the year 1990, and I had just arrived home from school. Coming in the house, I found my grandmother sitting with my mother at the kitchen table, sobbing, in her hand an envelope yellowed with age; from the upper right corner, Adolf Hitler gazed sternly at me from an oldstamp. We had barely touched on World War II at school, and I had never been too good in history classes anyway, as my interest in history only woke up decades later. So it took me a while to piece it all together: my grandmother had a twin brother, a German fighter plane pilot, who died during WWII. As he felt his death nearing, he wrote a farewell letter to my grandmother and their mother, at the end of 1944. That letter, however, was held up in the East, when the Russians came in and assumed power, and only reached my grandmother in 1990 when the Berlin Wall came down… forty-six years after his death.
Of course I had heard of WolfgangHe would come up in conversation with other relatives,occasionally, when the past was discussed – orrather, as is common among older folks,tirelessly retold. I was 14 years old in 1990 and sick of those stories, and often turned my attention to something else when an old anecdote would pop up again, an anecdote of which I could recite each and every single word! One of them was the story of my grandmother, and how she ploughed the field in Milse, a tiny suburb of Bielefeld, at the age of 16. While pregnant with my father. That day, she had meant to get married. But back in those days, yohad toregister an engagement with the town hall, and when my grandmother wanted to marry my grandfather (whom I never met), his fiancé came in and objected. My grandmother returned home and ploughed the field, for all the villagers to see that she wouldn’t marry – that she was carrying a bastard child. 
It was my father, really, who had to suffer most: born in 1943, he was a ‘Kriegskind, a War Child. After the war, my grandmother had to work to provide for her child and motherwhile my great-grandmother, my father’s grandmother, looked after my father. They were a family of three: my great-grandmother had lost two husbands and all her other kids between two world wars, in battle or to sickness. It was always said that my grandmother was the least favored child– and yet she was the one who survived and took care of her mother after everyone else had abandoned herDuring my father’s childhood, better-off aunts would come by and take the kids to the movies – but my father was turned away at the car door. Why? Hewould ask, with pleading eyes. “Just ask your mother,” the beastly aunts would say. When my father did something wrong, like landing in the river instead of on the other side, while playing in the woods, his grandmother would say “This is too much,” would go up to the attic vowing to kill herself, slam the door shut behind her, wait for my father to break down crying, screaming, “Don’t do it”. Then she would topple over the chair next to her, listen to his screams and crying some more, and then step out and enclose my sobbing father into her arms, bathing in his confessions of love, and promises never to do something wrong again. 
Clearly, after all her losses, this woman was damaged goods – and so was my father. The first time I remembered there was something wrong with him was when he had an anniversary at work -- he was a director at a branch of a mid-sized local bank – and when we came home after the celebrations, one of the balloons they had given me at the party slipped out of my hand. My father couldn’t sleep that night, so badly did he want that balloon back. He developed several neuroses over the years: becoming a compulsive hoarder was one of them. He was incapable of parting ways with certain objects, mostly papers. He gathered and picked up papers of all kinds, such as receipts, wrappers, bills, bank forms. All this was a result of his childhood. It had been suppressed for decades, and still, it came back to him to haunt him in this form, until he finally sought medical advice. 
His psychiatrist was amazed: it was rare, he said, for someone like him, with his past, to be successful in a job, and have a family – and certainly couldn’t have wished for a better father.But it showed me, in my early childhood, that the past never rests; it is always with you. And our understanding of time always fascinated me. I myself am someone who has a hard time to forgive my own past mistakes; I often am full of regrets. And then years later, my husband and I watched Kung Fu PandaAnd Master Oogwaysaid: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is amystery, today is a gift. That’s why they call it the “present.”. This sentence never left me. 
And so I started thinking: what if your understanding of time wasn’t temporal but spatial? What if the times become places, each a separate realm, whose inhabitants are never supposed to cross over, as otherwise they’d upset the balance of the universe? And then, someone does. Queen Floda. Which in reverse, of course,reads ‘Adolf’.
In my novel Hotel on Shadow Lake, the fairy taleprovides my protagonist Maya with the last piece of the puzzle, in her search for the truth behind her grandmother’s disappearance. Ironically, given the nature of the fairy tale, it acts as a bridge, not a separation – a bridge between the past and Maya’s future.

About the Author:

Since early childhood I have dreamt of exploring the world outside of my birthplace, the mid-sized city of Bielefeld in Germany. Too young to yet fulfil my wanderlust, I escaped into the world of storytelling, and - as soon as I was able to read - was always seen with a novel plastered in front of my face. In fact, for many years, I wanted to become a librarian. Instead, I chose a different path and dove into the world of audio-visual storytelling: first, with film making. I began my career working with famed director Uli Edel while completing my film studies, which allowed me to work on sets all over the world. Once I met my husband, on one of those films, I settled down in Munich for a while, and first became head of script development at a film production company in Munich, and then a network executive of original programming at one of Germany’s major private networks. After this I moved to the United Arab Emirates, where I had been hired to help develop the country’s film industry. Through our company’s partnerships with Hollywood, I was involved in projects such as the critically-acclaimed Fair Game, box-office hits Contagion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as the Oscar-winning The Help. However, as nice as it is to be able to include these titles on my resume, I sometimes felt, especially with other films I produced, that the art of story telling in film making can be compromised by the number of cooks in the kitchen. And so I sat down one day and started writing my own story, the first of many to come.


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