It is my pleasure today to welcome to my blog Elisabeth De Mariaffi to talk about writing her novel I Remember You that I hope to read shortly.
About the Book
Heike Lerner has a charmed life. A stay-at-home mother married to a prominent psychiatrist, it s a far cry from the damaged child she used to be. But her world is shaken when her four-year-old son befriends a little girl at a nearby lake, who vanishes under the water. And when Heike dives in after her, there s no sign of a body.
Desperate to discover what happened to the child, Heike seeks out Leo Dolan, a television writer exploring the paranormal , but finds herself caught between her controlling husband and the intense Dolan . Then her son disappears, and Heike’s husband was the last to see him alive …
To purchase the novel see here
When I first began writing I Remember You, I wasn’t sure what I had was a novel at all. The first scene I wrote felt more like myth, like a kind of magical short story: a young mother and her little boy lounge on a raft in the middle of a pond, when suddenly a strange girl surfaces from the water—seemingly, out of nowhere. While her son is enchanted by the girl and immediately begins to play with her, the mother is anxious: Where did this girl come from? Where are her parents? The woods around them are still. When, a moment later, the little girl skips across the surface of the pond and then dives back under, the mother knows something is terribly wrong. She holds her son tight against her, waiting. But the girl never resurfaces.
I’ve written previously about how important traditional fairy tales were to the crafting of the novel, but it wasn’t until after I was well into the writing that I began to understand how important they were to my protagonist, Heike Lerner, as well. As a teenager in the last days of World War II, Heike escaped from Dresden on foot, just days ahead of the fire bombs. By the time we meet her again, her life is completely changed: it’s 1956, and she’s living in a swank summer house in upstate New York with her new husband, Eric, an American psychiatrist, and their young son.
It’s a charmed life, but the hard truth is that the trauma of the war had its effect on Heike. She remembers very little of what came immediately after her escape. All she has to go on is the story that Eric has told her, and that he asks her to repeat back to him: where they met, how they married, the ways they began their life together.
But Heike has a story of her own to tell. At night, when she’s putting little Daniel to bed, she makes up fairy tales as bedtime stories—and one in particular, that she repeats over and over, might just be a clue to her past.
Into all this comes the very charming Leo Dolan, a television writer and producer whose work I based on that of Rod Serling, creator of the ground-breaking series “The Twilight Zone.” Dolan, like the real-life Serling, wants to control his own show in part to get out from under the thumb of network censors. He wants to be able to write stories about real conflicts of the time: racism, fear of the nuclear threat, fear of the unknown. It’s this part of him that is so attractive to Heike: like herself, Dolan is a storyteller. Also, like Heike, he is committed to telling the story the way he sees it, rather than just accepting the version that conservative 1950s society has rubber-stamped. Before I knew it, the book had folded over on itself: stories within stories within stories. For a writer, what could be more enticing?
Once Dolan made his entrance, I got to up the ante. The novel is full of Easter eggs – references to fairy tales are buried throughout, as are hidden nods to some of my own favourite Twilight Zone episodes. In the end, I wanted the entire book to be able to function as a kind of standalone Twilight Zone episode itself – albeit, admittedly, a rather complicated one.