“Where is “Diary of a Changeling”?….a short answer.

A couple of people have asked me very recently where the series: “Diary of a Changeling” is and what is happening with it?  Have I dumped it? (I do, like many writers..start things and don’t finish..)  Has it been put aside?

Well, I am grateful for these questions because it makes me realize that some of what I write resonates in some readers.  It’s usually the issue that we write for ourselves..our own interests.  When others are involved with the same issues, it’s a bonus.  It grounds you for some reason to know that others find a particular joy in the same things.

Finding my particular ability to recreate the vision of Paris, 1940 and all that was happening in the world to be …well…lacking…I ordered a shitload of books and have been reading them.  Slowly.

Since the Diarist is a British woman caught in Paris, unable to leave before the Germans marched down the boulevards in June 14, 1940, I have reason to read and try to understand what was going on in London at that time, and especially the war policies of Churchill concerning France.  I have quite a few books on Churchill…before and since hitting up Amazon.com.  Manchester’s “The Last Lion” I had around here already, and Violet Bonham Carter’s wonderful writing on Churchill:  “W.C. An Intimate Portrait”.  I further have his four volumes of “The Second World War” and other writings.

The issue is time…and they are in a queue right now.

I have found some marvelous books on the German Occupation, and have been reading these mostly.  “The Fall of France”, “Marianne in Chains”, “Outwitting the Gestapo” (by two of the French Resistance Fighters in the south of France) but the most intriguing book so far is “Occupation- The Ordeal of France 1940-1944”, by Ian Ousby.

Ousby traces the bitterness between England and France, and the secret visits of Churchill right before the Germans invaded.  He lightlights Laval and Petain, and of course the Vichy government and it’s dealings on a day to day basis.

Although “Diary” is a story about the French Resistance (in a large part) (and boy, is my opinion on that issue changing!)…what I have really been interested in is the social conditions of the French population during these first two years: The relationships between French citizens and the German occupiers….and they…at least in this early period, were a lot different than I had formerly imagined…and the daily conditions that the French lived under.  For instance, the change in diet, the nutritional issues that resulted from the Germans confiscating all the meats, butter, wines, flour, wax, leather…to be shipped to Germany, and also the feeding of the German occupiers.  The rations system, and the grey and black markets, and how they were on the one hand, suppressed by the Germans, and also on the other hand, how they were promoted by the same….

By 1942 the mortality rate in Paris was 40 per cent higher than it had been in the years 1932-38.  This is directly from the effects of a cuttage of protein and decent, nutritious foods.  There was also a curfew applied for the 4 years to the Parisian population.

It seems that those in the cities suffered far worse than those in the countryside…but there are obvious reasons for this.  There was also forced labor…men from France shipped to factories in Germany.

The effects of collaboration certainly messed with the psyche of France.

Also, the French became aware, far more aware than before the war, that so much of their goods were imported from their ‘colonies’…especially North Africa. With blockades and embargos, they lost much of their cooking oils, fruits, leathers, etc.

Whatever the issues were….surviving from day to day sapped their energies for resistance, and with a government of collaborators, there was lack of energy from this too.

The influence of de Gaulle from London….a government in exile….was to grow and grow…but de Gaulle was working from afar.  Radio…when it wasn’t jammed…and when the French populace could find a radio broadcast (and radios were forbidden to the French …as were showing any flags..by the Germans) well, information, competent information was iffy.

So…all this is just to say that there is a LOT to learn here..and to try to incorporate into “Diary”.

I believe strongly that research, recreating the period and the conditions is very important in any historical…or quasi historical writing…and this is a period of deepening research.

I have the Diarist coming upon her lover (MN) and his group of resistance fighters..she with a dead bloody chicken and blood all over her shoes and legs from the hen.  She is told to pluck and clean the chicken and prepare a meal for the 4 people in the room.  She struggles with a couple of things here….not the least cleaning a chicken.

But  little and big details as to the real conditions for the French at this time are important for the story.  They add life and color…but they add even more for me.  They make the story breath and perhaps IF they tell it with conviction, there are some future lessons to learn, and perhaps a deeper understanding of what a people face in war.

Be Well.

Lady Nyo

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