TITLE: “16mm of Innocence”
RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2017
AUTHOR: Quentin Smith
PAGE COUNT: 312
IMPRINT: Black Hawk
KEYWORDS: War, history, family drama, forbidden love, colonial Africa
Imagine discovering that your father was a Nazi war criminal who escaped justice; imagine if that was not the worst secret in your family.
What do we really know about our parents? How clearly do we remember our childhoods? Following the shocking discovery of a human skeleton at their childhood home and their aged mother’s subsequent death, three estranged siblings reluctantly return home for the funeral in the former German colonial town of Lüderitz. Watching long forgotten reels of old home movies the siblings discover shocking truths beneath their patchy childhood memories: secrets about their family, their parents and the reasons behind their estrangement. Set in 1985 on the Skeleton Coast of South West Africa, bathed in dense fogs that have wrecked thousands of ships over the years, and in Lüderitz, built on black rock trapped between the vast Namib Desert on the east and the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west, this suspense novel reaches back into South West Africa’s colonial past and the harboring of Nazi war criminals.
I traveled to South West Africa once in about 1985 and was inspired by the dramatic contrasts of this vast country. A savage coastline where the cold Atlantic Ocean meets the hot dunes of the Namib Desert along which the Germans staked a colonial claim in search of diamonds in the 1890s. They were driven out during the First World War but left behind them a legacy of Teutonic architecture and a tough, uncompromising spirit necessary to survive in this harsh land. Forty years later Nazi war criminals fleeing Europe sought refuge in remote and welcoming places in many distant lands of the southern hemisphere. South West Africa’s considerable German population was not entirely unsympathetic to their plight.
This tantalizing nugget of history formed a seed around which the book took shape. A second central theme was that of forbidden love, its tragic consequences and effects on others. In this unyielding country with its enclaves of Nazi supporters, the notion of a tragic love affair between a German and a Jew that would drive a family to extraordinary lengths to avoid disgrace, evolved from a sad tale of unrequited love told to me by my late grandmother. Her sister had fallen in love with a man whom her father strongly disapproved of, and their forced separation led to her tragic death about one hundred years ago. I wanted to bring her desperately tragic story to life and it seemed to fit perfectly with the themes and plots that were taking shape in my mind. And South West Africa in the first half of the 19th Century, with its harsh rugged landscape, enclaves of staunch German colonialists in remote, foreboding locations, seemed the ideal setting.
In addition to being an anaesthetist, Quentin Smith has a long-standing passion for writing. He has published articles and papers in The British Journal of Anaesthesia, Anaesthesia News, Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Hospital Medicine, Today’s Anaesthetist, Spark, and Insight.
Following a five-year term as editor of Today’s Anaesthetist, he undertook creative writing study through The Writing School, New College Durham, The London School of Journalism and then a coveted place on the Curtis Brown Creative fiction course in 2014.
He is the author of three previously published novels: The Secret Anatomy of Candles (Matador 2012); Huber’s Tattoo (Matador 2014); 16mm of Innocence (Matador 2015). Huber’s Tattoo was runner-up in The People’s Book Prize 2015 and 16mm of Innocence was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2016. His recent novels reveal his interest in European history and the Second World War in particular.
Buy Links:AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XDDB1WY
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XDDB1WY
AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XDDB1WY
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