Giselle Roeder – Life Writing / Memoir Author
This week I am excited to welcome the writer Giselle Roeder to my blog. Giselle has reached many people with her harrowing yet inspiring account of her experiences of life in Pomerania during the second world war. Giselle is also an advocate of water healing and has written widely on health-related topics.
Good morning, Giselle, and thank you so much for coming along to share your insights and experiences here today.
Q1. What kind of books do you write?
I used to write articles for different health magazines. One of them, the ‘alive’ magazine, asked me some fifteen years or so ago to write several titles for their series “Good Health Guides”. I wrote “Healing with Water”, book # 11 in the series, and “Sauna, the Hottest Way to Good Health”, book # 32. These health guides were very successful since each one dealt with only one topic regarding natural living. Limited to 60 pages total, each book includes tasty healthy recipes on the last 3 or 4 pages. Even in mine! All are high gloss, beautifully illustrated booklets. My main work, the book of which I am most proud is my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That – an Amazing Story of Survival” of WWII. In it I dared to tell things that Germans, even to this day, won’t talk about.
Many books have been written about WWII but most of them are about historical facts, the Nazis and/or the Allied involvement. My book, on the other hand, is about ordinary people; the way they lived after WWII; how they learned “not to talk about” what they really thought or felt during the Nazi time; what they had to endure during the Russian invasion, a time of unrelenting and never before reported rapine war fare; the eviction of hundreds of thousands from their home land and on the road to nowhere next to the Russian war machinery. But I also explain the rebuilding after 1945, the establishment of two Germanys; growing up in the eastern part; escape of thousands to the west which lead to the Berlin Wall to keep them in; life as a second class citizen; the final decision to leave it all behind and the ever growing wish to emigrate. All my titles are available through the usual channels, from Amazon to bookstores. You can order them if they are not on the shelves since they are listed on all their computers.
Q2. What were your earliest influences? What did you read as a child?
My favourite was story writing in grade school! Most kids hated it, I loved it. I had an active imagination even then. It was fed by my granny reading or telling us fairy tales or stories from her own childhood. During winter days we would sit around the wood or coal heated tiled stove, with Dad’s cat Peter on her lap, watching it get dark outside and listen to Granny. There were a few years following WWII when not a single age-related book was available. As a matter of fact there were no books at all, not even school books, so I read old dusty copies of whatever I could find – War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Goethe’s Faust. My teacher couldn’t believe that I really did read those ‘heavy’ stories. Later, as a young teenager I did some babysitting for an educated couple and they allowed me to read their books, from love stories to biology and everything in-between, whatever was in their book case.
Q3. What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing a sequel to my book “We Don’t Talk About That”. Many of my readers worldwide have complained that my memoir from a charming country childhood throughout WWII, the Russian invasion with its heart-wrenching experiences, my escape to the west before the Berlin Wall and my life as a young adult in a cruel world ends far too abruptly. They are asking “and what happened next?” And want to know more.
Q4. What can we look forward to in the future from you?
Definitely the sequel to “We Don’t Talk About That”. This memoir tells such a gripping story that people write “I couldn’t put it down” – one lady wrote “Are you okay, now? I need to know. I was with you every step and cannot wait for your next book.” But she isn’t the only one. Several people came to a book signing event in December hoping to get the second book. I had an incredible, unbelievably interesting life so it’s probably worth sharing by writing it all down. I have several other ideas for books I would like to write when the sequel is finished. One of them is a collection of short stories I have written over the years.
Q5. Who are your favourite authors?
I can’t name them all, from Jane Austen to Ken Follett. I love Jane Austen for her poignant style, the incredible tales she spins, how she pulls you in and you can’t help but to identify with one of her characters. Ken Follett’s ‘The Fall of the Giants’ and ‘Winter of the World’ were the inspiration to write my own life story. He did an incredible amount of research for instance on WWII, – while I lived it. Those two authors are classic famous writers, but one less known is the Canadian author Lyn Alexander. Her Schellendorf series, consisting of four books spanning the time from before WWI to a few years after WWII, have held me captive lately. I even read her last two books a second time. She is meticulous in her fact finding, the fictitious people feel as real as the powerful movers and shakers of the times. I know that these four books would make an unbelievably good TV series like “Downton Abbey”, or a very successful movie. It’s too bad that a lot of, excuse me, “crap” is made into movies while such morsels as these are never found by the agents, just because there is no big Publishing House behind it. I was also quite taken with Ann Victoria Roberts, a UK writer of historical fiction based on fact. Her books “Louisa Elliot” and “Liam’s story” kept me reading late into the night. Again, the research is exemplary and her language skills felt like poetry to me since I write in my second language.
Q6. What do you do when you’re not reading?
When I am not reading, I am writing! My days don’t have enough hours for all I want to do. When I can’t sit any more I enjoy garden work. I love, and talk, to my flowers. I even raised several roses from cut roses. There was a time when I also liked writing letters. But the computer age has done away with it. I am sorry to say that many of my contemporaries have gone to the pearly gates and the younger generations use computers exclusively. I also enjoy taking courses about writing, history, photography, or giving lectures. I love talking and listening to people. Since my memoir was published many people have told me their stories. One even asked me if I would write her story since she felt she could not do it. I was able to connect her with a ghostwriter. Another who has bought 47 copies of my book for gifts tells me her life journey whenever I visit and I like listening to her. I hope she is still alive when I have extra time; her story is different, one I would like to write.
Q7. What is your writing process?
I always say “I am pregnant with a book”. There are days when I have to write blogs for my website. That gives my brain a chance to work out details for my book. I never stop thinking about it. I breathe, live and dream about my books. All conscious thought seems to be supported and developing within my unconscious mind. Maybe people might think I am procrastinating, but I have to work it all out in my mind, even while I do some reading, research or ‘homework’ for my writing club. And all of a sudden there is a flood and I write all hours of the day or night whenever it hits. And then I don’t talk, I don’t want company, no distraction, I just need to write.
Giselle, thank you so much for sharing your fascinating life and indomitable approach – good luck with all your future projects, and please keep us updated with any news!
Born prior to WWII Giselle Roeder spent her early life in the relatively tranquil setting of a rural village in Pomerania, the most eastern part of Germany ceded to Poland in 1945. The bloody trauma of the fighting between the advancing Russians and the retreating German army in her neighbourhood meant that thousands of people, including her family, became displaced persons. Despite the interruptions in her education Giselle qualified as a Physical Education teacher in what was known as East Germany before she escaped to the West via Berlin. In West Germany she was obliged to start her life all over again, recommence her training and eventually became a health educator.
Following her emigration to Canada in 1963, Giselle succeeded in business and became well known as an international public speaker in the developing alternative health field.
She jokes about her first full English sentence, spoken to a salesman at her door two days after her arrival in Canada: “My – man – is – not home.”
Giselle has written three books: two about healthy living and her latest is her memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” covering the amazing story of survival during her first thirty years.
Contact Giselle and Where to find out more:
Author web site: http://giselleroeder.com/