Guest Post with Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to be here today with a guest post from Helga, please help me give her a warm welcome! :)


Guest Blog for Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Author of “Burying Leo,” a Novel
“Burying Leo,” my recently released women’s novel, developed rather gradually—and predominantly for the following three reasons:

1)         I abhor any kind of violence

To me, there are very few legitimate reasons for hurting—physically, mentally, emotionally—any living creature. I am especially concerned with the still rather prevalent mistreatment of women and children in our so-called civilized society.

I strongly believe that sexual assault is one of the worst things to happen to a female. Besides causing physical pain and injuries, it cuts deeply into the very essence of a woman’s being. It messes with her psyche, tarnishes her self-image and mutilates her soul. Even if some of the perpetrators are eventually held accountable, whatever punishment they receive can never undo their vicious deed.

It also cannot be pointed out often enough that rape is first and foremost a crime of “violence.” Trying to shift the blame to the victims by accusing them of dressing or behaving inappropriately seems a lame excuse for assaulting other human beings. That’s also why people in power should never use their superior position to hurt or humiliate anyone who depends on them—be it in a private or a work situation.

2)         I am in awe of people’s resilience in their quest for survival         

Throughout the years, I have received the most favorable responses to my human interest stories, such as memoirs and personal essays, which either contained uplifting messages or at least ended on a positive note. I credit the success of those shorter pieces to my tendency of writing “what you know”—even in fiction.
In developing my characters and storyline, I tend to fall back on personal experiences and some of the more unforgettable players in them. However, once I review my memories through my literary lens, and emerge them in an imaginary tale, they are reflecting a new reality. Only my geographical descriptions remain predominantly untouched, which allows my readers to become acquainted with places they may never get to visit in person.       

3)         I am intrigued with life’s unpredictability    

In addition to my preoccupation with human interest, which automatically seems to be imbued with a touch of suspense, I am also a huge fan of mystery and detective stories with a heavy dose of “Who’s done it?”

 I had a chance to incorporate all those elements in tackling the distasteful subject of rape in “Burying Leo.” The novel depicts rather unabashedly how being sexually assaulted not only dashes a young vocalist’s heroine’s hopes for a singing career, but keeps influencing her mind and actions for years to come—personally and professionally. Only after Ingrid finally finds the courage to confront her worst fears is she able to get back to pursuing her life’s dream.

I have to admit that the assault scene was the hardest part for me to construct. Not only did I “literally” suffer with my heroine through her incredibly brutal attack, I even internalized to some degree the degradation that churns within her for so many years.

As already mentioned, “Burying Leo” developed gradually. After several revisions, along with some title changes, I put the manuscript aside for a while before unearthing and submitting it again. Ironically, about the same time the book was finally released for publication, the MeToo movement burst onto the public stage and dominated the media—coincidentally turning “Burying Leo” into a very timely read.   

This novel is definitely a standalone. However, I linked it loosely to a story dealing with the subject of child abuse, which I am currently in the process of wrapping up.

After that, I am more than ready to exit the dark world of abuse—at least for a while—to dive into something lighter, more wholesome. Writing a memoir about growing up in Germany could not only turn into a restorative trip down memory lane, it might also prove to be historically informative, thought-provoking, and heart-wrenchingly nostalgic.
Thanks for being here!

Happy Reading!

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