On Personal History, Christopher De Vinck on writing Ashes

December 16, 2019

A deeply touching novel about two young women whose differences, which once united them, will tear them apart forever, during Hitler’s Nazi occupation of Belgium and France. Inspired by true events.

When my Belgian grandmother was 90-years-old and sitting in
the back porch, she told me the story about how she, my mother and uncle fled Brussels in fear of the Nazi invasion into Belgium in May, 1940.
‘We took a train, thousands of refugees were on the road. Bombs were dropped, bullets were fired from the wings of the Nazi planes and killing people all around us.’

I looked at my grandmother’s wrinkled hands folded on her lap.‘We ended up in Dunkirk, and in the hotel that night, as your mother and uncle were asleep the Nazi planes were bombing the city. I decided not to wake them because it is better to die in your sleep, I thought.’

I closed my eyes and imagined what it must have been like to try and run ahead of Hitler’s war machine. I opened my eyes and looked at my grandmother’s hands, and thought she was young once, my mother was young once… on the porch that day I began thinking what it must have been like for a frightened 18-year-old to try and escape the tragedy of war so, I wrote Ashes.

My mother and grandmother became Simone Lyon and Hava Daniels in this novel. Two young women, one Christian and one Jewish. In Ashes we witness how their friendship, cunning and courage, guides them on their perilous journey between the bombs, the horror and their fears.

Within this novel, readers will be taken on the heart-breaking journey that sees Hava Daniels taken to Auschwitz, and Simone left living with the scars and memories of war. However, like the phoenix can be reborn, Simone Lyon will carry with her the hope, that from the grey piles of ashes left behind by the war, goodness will come.

– Christopher De Vinck


Christopher De Vinck

Out 20th August

£8.99 PB


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