Searching – for my mother’s mother who disappeared in the Dutch resistance – is my 15th and most personal published book so far. At first, twenty years ago, my plan was to finally get to the details of the life story of my radical socialist grandmother Jeanne van Emden, and tell that story. I have never known her myself, I was born long after WW2 was done.
But my mother told me amazing stories about her mom and her important work for the radical socialist resistance. And about her great sense of humor, which she kept through tough times: the crisis years, poverty, the dark war getting closer and closer.
Other than that, my mother had created three huge filing maps, full of information that she had gathered during her seventy years of research on the whereabouts of her mom. Yes, a book about my grandmom should be doable.
While writing I discovered more and more how the story of my own mom was at least as interesting as my grandmother’s. My mom’s search, and the inspiration for dedicating her life to making this world a friendlier place, fascinated me.
And quite suddenly a third interesting story turned up: mine. During the scary attacks in Paris and Brussels I discovered that the whole damn war had been hiding inside me, al my life.
Three generations, family constellations, hidden, secret and slightly changed information about fears and desires, the weird connection between fact and fantasy and how the war never stops at one generation, all that became the theme and the storyline of Searching.
Searching for the right form to tell three storys was another issue that popped up. Being a professional writer’s coach, I have experimented with lots of writing structures, but the one I choose to tell my family’s story is one I would not recommend lightheartedly to a rooky. I humbly offer you these three braided stories of my family and the war, that lead you from past to present and future, and beyond.
I am available for lectures and readings with discussion about ‘Searching’ and the issues it is about. English, Dutch and German spoken. Traveling abroad is no problem. Email me for travel schedules and planning.
Second generation, war trauma, family constellations, secrets, socialist resistance