Biography of Ms. Winter (in her own words):
“I was born during a very cold winter in 1953 in Germany, 8 years after WWII. My father was a Civil Engineer from Germany. His mother, my grandmother, had met Himmler, on one occasion, and my father was 17 when he was made a POW of Great Britain. He had been in a SS Elite School (NAPOLA) before the war and, luckily for him (and me), that war was over before he could have been made another tool of that deceitful regime.
My mother was French, from Lorraine originally, and I have spent many holidays with that part of the family, who at the time truly had been French. ‘Vive la France’ was their motto.
My father, from a German family as you can picture it, my mother from a French family with a socialistic background. They must have loved each other even though the marriage broke up when I was five. It could have never worked from my point of view now. My father, 85 years old, recently gave me an old photograph of my mother with tears in his eyes, saying: She was an extraordinary woman and I have loved her all my life. My mother is long dead.
I grew up in a little village, near the French border. By foot two hours. Our district town was an old garrison town and after WWII occupied by French and Canadian troops and later by the Americans.
Those times after the war were hard and the black market was something to make our lives better and not to starve…The inspiration to write came to me in early years. By the age of 5, I had read Wilhelm Busch, a terribly thick book, kneeling in front of our old sofa. Later on, when I was about 14, I nicked Arthur Miller from my mum’s book shelf and then Dostojewskij, Tolstoij and Hemingway. My mum had been an avid reader.
I have been inspired to write because my life was, like millions of others’, diminished, stained, attacked and twisted by a regime and a war which many of us Germans never wanted. We, as children, had the responsibility to build another world.
I am inspired to write, because wars are still ongoing and cruel.”
Q. Please give readers a synopsis of “Hexe.” And, what inspired you to write it?
A. A memoir but not in the strict sense of the word as I was born after the war. It is a pondering about all I have heard and seen during my time growing up. My grandmothers, my aunts, neighbours, at night when the lamp was pulled down over the kitchen table, knitting, talking about hardship, the old times, the old magic and a world in turmoil. Talking about gods who had abandoned us. Talks about honourable, heathen ancestors, ever so sad that our values had been used for propaganda. It is my story, about growing up, coming of age and being eyed suspiciously because I seemed to know and understand. A heathen childhood, coming of age during times of guilt, after a devastating war, stained, branded, searching for new values and returning to the Heathen ancestry.
Q. Do you generally favour wordy descriptions or a more laconic way of writing?
A. Oh, I do favour wordy descriptions because I do believe in the magic of words. Words distinguish us as humans and with words we paint our souls. Words have power and with words we touch hearts. There are not many words needed to show your heart and to touch others’ hearts. Words are magic, words are the ultimate tool of mankind, carried on and on, from generation to generation to make this world a better world. Words of many journalists have stopped the Vietnam War. I do believe in words and the responsibility of a true writer.
Q. Are you currently working on another book? If so, then what genre(s) will it fall in?
A. Yes, I am. One book is with the editor now, a mystery story about the wolf children of eastern Prussia. A fiction story but it could have been true. I am not a historian, but I am looking deep into the hearts of those who have been used, violated and are struggling to come to terms with what they have lived through. It is a book of a girl from eastern Prussia at the end of the war, when the Great Treks were going west, who’s abused, raped, a victim but searching for a new beginning, her tales of her grandmother in her heart.
Q. “Hexe” has been getting great reviews on Amazon. Why do you think that the storyline resonates with many?
A. Yes, “Hexe” has had some good reviews. I do believe that the power and magic of words have contributed to the reviews, I am not a savvy market analyst, and truly, I don’t care. I want my story out there to connect with hearts and souls, people who do believe that writers have an obligation to tell tales from the bottom of their hearts. Many turn to Buddhism, other religions. My intent is to say that we all should go back to our own roots, respect and tolerate others. The values of ancient societies teach us a lot. We, the writers, only have to listen.
Q. In what ways is it a ‘wild world of writing’ these days?
A. Writing nowadays means possessing a computer, an internet connection, a bit of money – and out the stories go. No skills of grammar, no commas. No real story, just what keyhole readers want to read, 50 shades of an ugly colour, magicians, werewolves. Tolstoij and Dostojewskij would have been lost, smiling, Hemingway, the good Bukowski – they would have drunk themselves to death. (They did.)
Q. Now for a fun question: Which book(s) contain your favourite literary inside jokes/hidden messages/’Easter eggs’?
A. Hidden inside jokes? Not really. Writing is a serious job. It takes it out of you. Writing is dark humour, the joke that hits you at your core. You read the joke and you have tears in your eyes because it is the joke of life as such, writers laughing about it in desperation.
Q. Where can readers go to connect with you and your work?
A. I am on Facebook, twitter and Goodreads. And, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Go, look it up. My name is Skadi Winter and I hate the internet.
Q. Please tell readers about being interviewed by Radio BBC Essex recently.
A. I had an interview with Radio BBC Essex. It was done one day after Germany had won the world cup. All was about football and I truly had forgotten to mention my book. What a crazy world.
Q. What’s on the horizon for the remainder of 2014?
A. My 3rd book – story of a serial killer. Ukraine after Chernobyl. Devastation and danger. The Red Zone. A highly decorated Russian soldier, returning to his home village in the Red Zone. How could he ever find a way back into a civilian life without being recognized as what he himself believed he was: A hero. He had been trained to kill and that is what he is going to do over and over again. To save the world. But never being decorated again. The schizophrenia between the real world and the world we all wish it to be. The longing for the Gods of our ancestors to soothe the pain.
***You can pick up a copy of “Hexe” here.