Tag Archive | Poisoned Pen WebCon

Rebecca Cantrell’s mysteries explore Berlin in the 1930’s

Rebecca Cantrell

I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca Cantrell as today’s guest blogger. She writes the critically acclaimed Hannah Vogel mystery series set in 1930s Berlin, including A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives. Her screenplays “A Taste For Blood” and “The Humanitarian” have been finalists at Shriekfest: The Los Angeles Horror/Sci-fi Film Festival. Her short stories are included the “Missing” and the upcoming “First Thrills” anthologies. Currently, she lives in Hawaii with her husband, her son, and too many geckoes to count. You can learn more at her website, http://www.rebeccacantrell.com.

The following essay first appeared as part of the Poisoned Pen Web Con last fall. I moderated two panels for the event as well, and I blogged about it on October 21st.  You can still check out the proceedings online at www.ppwebcon.com – there’s lots of great reading there.

Where Do I Get My Ideas?

By Rebecca Cantrell

The idea for my first novel, A TRACE OF SMOKE, captured my imagination almost thirty years ago. I was living in Berlin, a city crammed with ghosts and stories, but the idea came to me when I left it.

I went on a Spring Break trip to Munich. Unlike my more well-adjusted peers, I skipped out on the drinking and went to Dachau. Because everyone else was swilling beer and gulping pretzels, I had the place to myself.

Wind moaned through the open wooden barracks and I shivered in my 1980s fashionable black leather ankle boots as I clomped through the buildings. It gets dark early in Germany in the spring, especially on an overcast day, and I wished for a flashlight to drive away the shadows and ghosts.

But I had none, so I headed inside and stopped in front of a plain wall. It held a row of colored triangles worn by actual prisoners: yellow, red, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, and black scraps of fabric. Above each now faded triangle, thick Gothic letters spelled out the categories: Jewish, political prisoner, habitual criminals, emigrant, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, gypsies, and asocials (a catchall term used for murderers, thieves, and those who violated the laws prohibiting Aryans from having intercourse with Jews).

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