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I’m often asked “What inspired you to write The Vanishing of Katharina Linden?” I never get tired of this particular question, because it’s a subject that lies very close to my heart. The book was inspired by the little town of Bad Münstereifel in Germany. It’s the setting of The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, and it’s not a fictional place-–it’s a real town, and we lived there for seven wonderful years.
When we moved to Bad Münstereifel in 2001 my husband was anxious that I would be bored. “You can walk from one end of the town to the other in about two minutes,” he said. Actually I found Bad Münstereifel the most fascinating place. It is like stepping into the past. There are cobbled streets and old half-timbered houses, beautiful old churches and creepy castles. I’ve always loved folk tales and legends, and Bad Münstereifel has lots of those. The stories which Herr Schiller tells to Pia (the heroine) in the book are all genuine Bad Münstereifel folk tales. They were collected and published around 1910 by a local priest called Father Krause. I came across some of the stories in anthologies and went to read the originals at a library in Düren. They were written in old-fashioned German and printed in the Gothic type that was very popular in Germany at that time, which made it extremely difficult to read them! But I persevered because it was such an amazing journey of discovery for me. There was one particular character who really stood out, and that was “Unshockable Hans”, the miller who was not afraid of anything, even witches and ghosts. There are a number of stories about him. He seemed to represent the spirit of the town–-forthright, God-fearing and intrepid. I wanted him to be a central character in my book. I liked the idea that the heroine, Pia, would be inspired by his bravery to do her own investigations into the disappearances in her home town.
People sometimes ask me about the ending of the book, as it isn’t entirely a happy one for Pia, given her family situation. I think this reflects my own feelings about having to leave Bad Münstereifel. I loved living there so much, but I always knew that one day we would have to leave. That sadness is part of my love for the town, and Pia’s too. I’d like to think that The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is a memorial to a wonderful place and time in my life.
(Photo © Gordon Grant and William Bond)
This book was...meh, I guess.
The writing style was enjoyable, and I think Helen Grant has the potential to write some really fun books in the future. Read more
I enjoyed the storytelling. I wasn't really taken by surprise by the ending but enjoyed the journey getting there.Published 1 month ago by Michelle Martin
I loved this quirky story. Coming from an Austrian background I enjoyed the language and cultural references. Who knew a murder mystery could be funny.Published 2 months ago by mourning dove
Full of suspense and different turns in the story. Love the narration from a child's view! Great book to read on a cold night in front of the fireplace!Published 3 months ago by Vik
It was a pretty good read but as usual, for me anyway, I suspected the ending but even that didn't really disappoint.Published 3 months ago by avid reader
This clever mix of mystery and a child's imaginations kept me reading. The mix of typical family troubles were well blended with German village life and a horrible murder mystery. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Venaye Reece
It was a simple book, but I enjoyed it because of the international aspect since it takes place in Germany.Published 3 months ago by T.D.
This is the first remotely 'suspenseful' or 'dark' book I've ever read... and the only reason I went for it, was because previous reviewers said it wasn't THAT suspenseful or dark. Read morePublished 3 months ago by laura