Inspiration

Inspiration

 The picture is my Dad as a young man, taken about 1947.

My Dad is the original inspiration for writing my novel. He was born and raised in Latvia but left toward the end of World War II. He wound up in Germany in a displaced persons camp where he met my mother and where I was born. We immigrated to the United States when I was three. During my growing up years, Dad often talked about what happened to his country and his family during World War II. He also talked about his early years when Latvia was a free country. His stories stuck in my head and kept pestering me to write them down.

Over time, I also heard stories from other relatives. My maternal grandfather had been a career officer in the Latvian Army. During the first year of occupation by the Soviets (1940-1941), many Latvians were either deported to Siberia or killed on sight. Because of his position in the army, my grandfather, grandmother, mother and her brother were on the list to be shot on sight. As time went on and I heard even more stories, it was my wish to tell the story of the Latvian people, not just a family story. Many things in the novel happened to my family. Many things happened to others. I tried to interweave as many stories as possible in the context of the narrative. 

I hope I did them justice. 

1990 Song Festival in Riga, Latvia

This video is from the 1990 Latvian Song Festival held in Riga.

My first trip to Latvia was in 1990 and I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Song Festival, which is normally held every 5 years. When I heard the National Anthem, God Bless Latvia, it brought tears to my eyes and I was not alone. The tears represented joy at being in my Homeland and sadness for the years of occupation. The video on this page is the singing of the national anthem at that festival. The two photos are my own. On the left is what I saw from my seat. The thousands of singers were tiny from that distance, but their singing was huge and heard clearly. The photo on the right is from the parade, which was a few days before the singing evening. The parade lasted for hours, with every group dressed in their town’s native costume, the same costumes they wear for the singing event. Interestingly, this event took place 50 years after the Song Festival that my novel (Song of Latvia) begins with.

The Beginning

The Beginning

These are my grandparents, Emma and Arturs. They were the inspiration for the main characters in my novel, SONG OF LATVIA. Many of the things in the novel happened to them. Many others did not. But almost everything happened to someone in Latvia during World War II. 

My grandparents, along with my mother and her brother, fled Latvia on foot toward the end of WW II and wound up in Germany in a displaced persons camp. That’s where my mother met my father and where I was born. We all came to the USA when I was three. I grew up hearing many stories about the war and eventually those stories coalesced into a desire to write a novel about the collective experience of the country. So my two main characters, although based on my grandparent’s personalities, are fictional. Some of the towns in the novel are also fictional. They are composite towns. Using fictional characters and towns helped me tell the story of many rather than a few. 

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