19 Feb 2014

Jasmine Bath: “No One’s Daughter”

2 Comments News

17251007 “No One’s Daughter” by Jasmine Bath is the story of a neglectful and cruel childhood. Told from the perspective of a young girl this tragic tale portrays how she is forced to take care of herself and her siblings while her irresponsible mother wastes her life away without any kind of responsibility. 
Although the protagonist is the victim of violence and emotional abuse to say the least, one of the biggest strengths of the novel is the understated character of the often almost factual descriptions of what does happen. I found this style of story telling much more powerful than loud accusations and self pity. What we recognise as outrage and abuse, for the girl in this novel it is almost ‘normality’.
Like our narrator I was waiting with her for the next drama with fear but certainty that it would come: the mother’s next baby or boyfriend – she would surely draw the short straw.
The minute detail and the many episodes of this ruined childhood illustrate poignantly how much suffering and hardship is involved for a child in such circumstances. It is hard to comprehend how much is irretrievably lost and how far reaching the consequences are. 
Although we are all aware of the basic concept of abuse this book needs to be read. 

“My name is Jasmine Bath and the novel “No One’s Daughter” is based on actual incidents from my childhood during the 1960s and 70s. I did not write this book for sympathy or notoriety; I wrote it in an attempt to shed light on the ghosts that have haunted me for a lifetime, hoping that by putting them down on paper that I could look at them more objectively from a mature point of view and eventually free myself from them.”

 

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

I live in the Midwestern area of the United States with my husband. With the exception of our oldest daughter, all of our children and grandchildren live within a one-hour radius. Our children are all grown and have turned out to be exceptional people that we not only love, but actually like. I’m extremely proud of each of them. Since the kids are now adults I’m now able to take writing from the back burner of my life and make it my fulltime job.

What made you become a writer?

Writing has always been a part of who I am, what I do. I don’t think there was anything that made me write, it is as natural to me as breathing.

Have you always written?

Yes, always.

When did you decide to write your chosen genres?

Memoir is not really my chosen genre, I had considered publishing “No One’s Daughter” as a novel but to put it forth as such, would have been a lie, a denial of the truth of what I wrote and my own conscience wouldn’t allow it.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Not really a favorite, I enjoy all genres but am drawn towards biographies and drama.

Tell us a little about the history of your book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

I never intended to write a book when I began writing what eventually became “No One’s Daughter.” It began as a form of therapy for me to help me look back at incidents that happened when I was growing up as a way to look at those events more objectively. Each incident became a chapter and when put together chronologically, it pulled together as a book. There are about ten chapters that I decided to pull before finally publishing it. Because I originally had no plans to publish it and was in no hurry, it was written over a time span of about ten years.

What was the easiest about writing the book and what was the hardest?

The easiest thing was the writing, once the words began to flow; there was no stopping it. Because it was my life, there was no guessing as to how it would end, I knew. The hardest part was deciding what to share and what to hold back when it came time to publish it.

Would you say there is a message in the book beyond the story?

Yes, I like to think that there are many messages and depending on the reader, they will each walk away with a different message.

Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

People have been wonderfully kind for the most part regarding reviews and I’m grateful for each and everyone.

What do you like most about your characters?

My characters are real human beings, people who have played huge parts in my life. Two of these people, my aunts, have always been my favorite people. Both are gone now and I miss them terribly.

Which one is your favourite?

If I had to choose a favorite, it would be my Aunt Thea. I owe my life to her.

Who would play the characters in a film?

Oh, geez, I have no delusions of that ever happening so I would have to say that I have no idea.

What are your next projects?

I have two novels that I will start working on in the immediate future; both will revolve around controversial subjects and will probably raise more than a few eyebrows.

What is your life like?

After a violent, chaotic childhood, I’m thrilled to say that my life is usually pleasantly calm and peaceful. What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing? I spend time with my husband, children and grandchildren but I am also finally learning to find time for myself as well. I love working out, walking, reading and listening to good music. Thankfully, now that the kids are all grown, I don’t have to cook as much because I’m a horrible cook. My husband is a wonderful cook and takes over in the kitchen for me whenever he has time. Wandering through stores with my husband, spending the afternoon watching a movie and then a quiet dinner makes for the perfect day.

Who are your literary influences?

Dorothy Allison, Sharon Olds and Frank McCourt immediately come to mind but there are dozens of other authors that I also appreciate.

What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

There are so many excellent book that there is no way to pick one as a favorite. As for films, one of my more recent favorites would be “12 Years a Slave.” When it comes to music, like books, I tend to gravitate toward unusual voices. Van Morrison, First Aid Kit, F.U.N., The Rolling Stones, Sister Hazel, Mumford and Sons and Barenaked Ladies are some of the bands that I listen to.

What are your views on independent publishing?

I submitted “No One’s Daughter” to about a dozen publishers before self publishing. My reward for my hard work resulted in a nice collection of very kind, handwritten rejection letters wishing me nothing but the best. One publisher was very interested but the final decision rested with the bean counters that feared it would have too narrow an audience. Realizing that the bottom line is the bottom line with traditional publishers, particularly at a time when there is so much uncertainty within the publishing community, even more so now with e-publishing being readily available, I think that independent publishing is not only a viable option but is here to stay. I love that the reading public no longer has to accept what the book gatekeepers, traditional publishing, says is worthy of reading versus what is not. As a reader I like being able to decide what is worth my time instead of having a publisher making that choice for me. For writers, this may be the only opportunity to get their work out there to be judged as to whether it has merit or not.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

There are so many that I wouldn’t even want to attempt to rattle off a list of names out of fear of leaving one off.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

They would tell that despite my insane childhood that I am relatively sane and on a mentally even keel; they would tell you that I rely on logic over emotion, that I suffer from OCD and most importantly, I would hope they would tell you that I am a compassionate person.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

Favorite animal would be a snow owl. Favorite color is emerald green. Favorite outdoor activities are walking and people watching.

What would you take to a remote island?

I don’t think my claustrophobia would be able to handle a remote island…

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

Friedrich Nietzche. No explanation needed. What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects? I have several works in progress but not able to go into great detail about them at the moment.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

My biggest hope for “No One’s Daughter” is that people will read it and understand the desperation that some children endure on a day-to-day basis. If one abusive person reads it and realizes the pain and life long consequences of the effects of their behavior and seeks help, that would make it all worthwhile.

 

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/No-Ones-Daughter-Jasmine-Bath-ebook/dp/B009O5HA5U G

oodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17251007-no-one-s-daughter

Twitter https://twitter.com/JasmineAuthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jasmine.bath.author

17 Nov 2013

Alan Wynzel “When I was German”

2 Comments Book Reviews

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Today I am presenting on of my reading highlights of this year.

I accidentally stumbled upon this gem via a tweet and am very pleased to share this remarkable memoir with you today.  

“When I Was German” by Alan Wynzel is a bitter sweet childhood memoir of a young man growing up in his own private war zone that is the marriage between his German mother and his Jewish father in America during the 1960s and 1970s.

It is a moving tale about a child caught in the parent’s volatile relationship, the clash of their cultures and personalities and the resulting identity issues for the young men brought on by conflicting ideas and role models.
Wynzel’s perception of the Jewish and the German cultures is a very interesting perspective and one that benefits particularly from being told by the point of view of an adolescent. His childhood fantasies, his perception of films and comments about Germans in the US (particularly about the 1976 Munich Olympics hostage drama) and the descriptions of the family holidays in Germany are insightful, heart breaking and thought provoking. Being German myself and living abroad – even twenty years later than this book’s story – I can relate to many of the author’s experiences.

Wynzel does an excellent job at describing his experiences realistically and honestly, making this an engaging and compelling page turner for me. This is an interesting and unique life story that deserves to be told and read.

 

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 INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person

As a person I’m a bit of a contradiction.  I’ve worked in Technology mostly in Corporate America for years to pay the bills, and as such I appear conventional, but I’m really not.  I’m not your average American guy.  I don’t follow sports, I don’t play golf—I’m more interested in the arts, in creative things, in the offbeat and off-center.  I have my own opinions and I not a joiner of groups or a cheerleader for any, and this has gotten me in trouble at work sometimes, my being a non-conformist; I don’t buy into the corporate mindset, I do better in small companies than large ones with all their procedures, culture, and behavioral norms.  I’m also a father to two teenaged children who are both creative in their own ways and I’ve always encouraged them to pursue their creative dreams, especially since I deferred mine for so long.  As a writer, I’m driven to do it…I’m just compelled to write, and while sometimes I may take long breaks from it if I don’t write for a while I feel like something is wrong.  I started writing novels about 20 years ago and haven’t quit since.  I always have ideas, I’ve explored different genres but found I do my best work either in memoir or “fictionalizing” my own life.

What made you decide to write your memoirs?

I really had to get an understanding of what happened in my home when I was a child.  I had very strong opinions regarding who was the bad guy (my father) and who was the good guy (my mother).  But I knew my feelings had been shaped by my mother, and I had to sort it all ouT

Tell us a little about the history of the book. Did you write and publish right away or did you hesitate

I didn’t hesitate but I had to go through a few editing iterations to get it right.  But once I felt I had it right, I plunged right into attempting to publish conventionally by querying agents, editors, and publishers.

Was it difficult to publish something so personal?

Yes.  It’s a lot of dirty laundry to air, and it makes me feel vulnerable.

How much of the material did you know would make it into the book before you started writing and how much changed during the process?

The original version was much more anecdotal, and many of the anecdotes were not necessary.  I was advised by an agent to really edit it down, and I identified what themes I wanted to pursue and how to best keep them flowing.  I cut the original 150,000 words down to less than 100,000.  I know a lot of good “stories” got cut but they diluted the overall impact.  The agent remarked it was one of the best edits he’d ever seen.  I still have his letter, somewhere.  Unfortunately he didn’t think he could sell the book so he didn’t sign me on.

Was it cathartic or painful to write it all down.

Yes.  It was hard to keep my distance.  In fact, it’s still painful to read.

How do you feel about your childhood now?

I have a better perspective on it now.  I understand better how it shaped me as a person, I understand my parents better, and I realize that, despite all the bad parts, I had a lot of fun.  I try to remember the good things, the fun, and the love my parents did give me, in their own way.

How do you feel about Germany and the Jewish faith?

Very mixed feelings.  I married (and since divorced) a Jewish woman whose father was a Reform Rabbi.  With her I embraced a Jewish identity and life, and her father “converted” me because, given matrilineal descent, I was not technically Jewish.  We are raising our children Jewish, and while I identify with being Jewish, I just don’t care for observance and all the “belief” involved in religion.  I’m not sure I believe in g-d; at least not in the standard perception of g-d.  I see too many problems with religion as a means of social control.  I could go on, but that’s the essence of it.  As for Germany, I identify as German reluctantly.  I have too many bad associations with the place to want to be German.  And it goes without saying, Nazism, WWII, and all the apologists.  Suffice to say, “When I Was German”…a past-tense statement.

Who would play the family in a film?

Great question.  For my father I would say Alan Arkin, because Arkin sounds just like him and he has the NYC Jew thing down.  For my mother?  I don’t know.

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I work in Technology and things are tough right now because I was laid off a few times recently and while still working in the field, I’m making only 2/3 of what I used to.  But for fun, I like to spend time with my kids (although that’s less and less as they expand their own teenaged lives).  I read a lot, I like to hike, bike, go out for drinks and dinner when I can.  I can’t afford much more.  Everyone please buy my book so I can afford to go on vacation next summer.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

I’m strongly influenced by Hemingway and Bukowski.  I’ve read a number of the classics and lot of 19th century lit (Dickens, Twain, all the Russians) but nowadays I stick with contemporary (post-WWII) writers.  I enjoy Vonnegut (feels like I’m sitting talking to a friend) and Cormac McCarthy—with him I feel like I’m reading a modern master.  But what I’m talking about is contemporary literature.  I don’t read “popular” books at all.  No interest.  And I read a lot of WWII (and some WWI) history, ranging from very academic campaign analyses to war memoirs.

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

I’m a ranter.  Just like my old man.  And a complainer.  Just like my mother.  On the good side, I’m funny, in different ways…clever, witty, or sometimes, downright raunchy.  Having said that, I’m tactful about it…usually.

What would you take to a remote island?

Sofia Vergara, a case of tequila and an enormous “DO NOT RESCUE” sign.  Not kidding

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

I completed a novel earlier this year that I will be publishing in the near future, once I get When I Was German rolling.  The novel is a fictionalized account of my experiences in the recent Great Recession, where I was laid off twice, went broke, had a major relationship fail and struggled with drink and despair.  It’s called The Seventh Round and details one week in which the protagonist’s life disintegrates, piece by piece. 

 

Follow my writing blog http://avoicefromlakevalleyroad.blogspot.com/

my poetry blog http://poemsfromelmstreet.blogspot.com/

and on Twitter @alanwynzel for updates.

About this author

I was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. The years I spent there in a home on Lake Valley Road shaped my life and my writing, which began there, when I was 11. That home was a battleground where my mother, a German woman who grew up in Nazi Germany (she was Catholic) and suffered deprivations and loss in WWII poured her sorrow into me and fought with my father, a NYC Jew, for posession of my soul. My childhood memoir, When I Was German, tells that story.

When I Was German is available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Smashwords, and Kobo. See my writing blog for links to all these purchase points.

Now, at 49, I’m still writing. I’m divorced, have two teenaged kids, and was out of work for almost 2 years in the Great Recession. I’ve been writing about that, too. A novel, The Seventh Round, that I will publish soon, tells that story. And another is in the works. I’m most prolific, and adept, at telling my own life story, whether in memoir, or fiction.

Like Hemingway said, write what you know.

As for the writers I most admire, well, Hemingway, of course. And Bukowski…I can’t read any other poetry but his. I am influenced and mostly read contemporary writers like Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, and Gunther Grass

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