Featured Interview With Helga Warren
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I am the daughter of two German parents and was mostly raised in Europe, although I was born in Washington, DC. I lived in Paris for 7 years, from 11 to 18. I currently live in a Virginia suburb of Washington, DC and work seasonally as a DC tour guide in English, German and French, a very fun job. We do not have pets, as we spend time at the Jersey Shore in the winters to be closer to our children and grandchildren during the holidays. My book is all about my German father’s World War II memoirs that I discovered in an old suitcase.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I started reading at a young age, age 5, and have read voraciously ever since. Reading helped me deal with frequent moves and various difficulties in my childhood. However, I do feel I missed out on learning and doing other things, since I always had my nose in a book. I have written in three languages most of my life, but this is my first published book (Black Rose Writing). I wanted others to discover my father’s memoirs, which no one had looked at for 70 years; I felt I had something important to say. The pandemic unexpectedly provided me the time to write without distractions.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I used to read fiction but now I generally don’t anymore. I prefer to read true things, so I generally stick to memoirs and non-fiction topics, especially psychology. I have read so many memoirs! It is hard to name just a few, but I especially liked “You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb, which combines the experiences of her therapy clients with insights into her own life. I also loved “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Wall, and one of my favorite books of all time is “The Tender Bar” by J.W. Moehringer, Prince Harry’s collaborator on “Spare”. Eric Clapton’s book is my favorite rock biography.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My book is titled “The Enchanted Suitcase: A Window Onto My German Father’s World War II Life.” I spent a total of five years working on this project, first organizing all my deceased father’s papers in the suitcase I found, and then typing and translating both of his memoirs from German into English. My father was a German POW in Aliceville, Alabama and wrote one memoir about getting captured in Normandy and being sent to the POW camp, on the backs of American Army requisition forms after the war. That one was especially difficult to decipher because the writing was so faded. The other memoir is a love story set in German-occupied Paris that he wrote while he was in the POW camp. I also write about how I saw him in a whole new light because I had this insight into his life as an enthusiastic young man, who was very different than the father I grew up with.
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