Affinity Konar joined the Different Drummer Books Author event, last night, all the way from California. Her first novel Mischling tells the story of evil, tragedy and hope through the voices of twin sisters in Auschwitz during WW2. These sisters become part of Mengale’s terrible experiments.
The author was soft-spoken and seemed quite shy despite her serious topic. She read a selection narrated by both of the sisters, Pearl and Sasha, from the first part of her novel as they arrived at Auschwitz along with a few pages narrated by Sasha after liberation.
Writing her first novel had taken her 10 years and she thanked Random House Canada which was the first publisher to pick up her novel. During the question and answer period she shared that she suggests her students write a letter to someone as a great ice-breaker for writing. This had been helpful to her as she shared that she had grown up afraid of her own voice.
A question was asked about whether she was a descendent of Auschwitz and the author said that by 1932 her family was safe in upstate New York. They had been among lucky families who had been able to escape. This has left her “transfixed with what became of Poland” and she described how she had recently traveled to Poland for the first time and visited Auschwitz with her family.
I am always curious about the writing styles of authors and whether they use an outline or just start writing. I was able to ask tthis question and Affinity replied that she starts her writing by having conversations about her ideas. For Mischling, she knew that she wanted to have dialogue between the twins and that the rest of the writing was “pure chaos” except for knowing what her closing line would be. The first half had come together easily but the second half was thrown out multiple times. She does not tend to prepare an outline as they “look like the bad end of a kaleidoscope”.
A question was asked about editing and she noted that it is “incredible how the best editors function as mind readers”. Her editor had been able to read her book and show her what she “really wanted to say”. The editor was able to teach her and “illuminate my personality” which is a remarkable compliment.
I enjoyed learning more about the writing process and appreciated Affinity’s addition to this trio of authors. Each book and style was very unique yet they blended to form stimulating conversation after the readings. Look for reviews on Canadian author’s Donna Morrissey and Michael Helm to follow.
For more information about Affinity Konar and her book Mischling here are a couple of great links: