Today I’m delighted to feature author Louise Fein. Louise’s debut novel, People Like Us (named Daughter of the Reich in the US and Canada) was published in hardback and ebook earlier this year. The paperback is due on the 4th March 2021. The novel was inspired by the experience of her father’s family, who escaped from the Nazis and arrived in England as refugees in the 1930’s. It is also being translated into 11 foreign languages.
Louise was born and brought up in London. She harboured a secret love of writing from a young age, preferring to live in her imagination than the real world. After a law degree, Louise worked in Hong Kong and Australia, travelling for a while through Asia and North America before settling back to a working life in London. She finally gave in to the urge to write, taking an MA in creative writing, and embarking on her first novel, People Like Us.
Louise lives in the beautiful English countryside with her husband, three children, small dog, two kittens and the local wildlife who like to make an occasional appearance in the house. Louise’s second novel, The Hidden Child, will be published on 2nd September 2021 and in October in the USA and Canada.
Over to Louise
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I played this on repeat when I was revising for my A’ levels and whenever I hear it, it takes me straight back to those days of working hard, having laughs with friends, and still having everything to come.
Joe Cocker’s You Can Leave Your Hat On because it reminds me of outrageous dancing and fun whilst going out at university.
Relaxing Whale Music – perhaps not music, but I played this when I was pregnant and had terrible morning (well all day) sickness. It was supposed to help, but it didn’t really. I can’t bear to listen to anything like this now as it immediately makes me feel sick.
Billy Ocean’s When the Going Gets Tough, because we went through some tough times when my youngest daughter was very ill, and this sort of mentality helped me through.
The soundtrack of Hamilton as I have sung along to it so much, I know each and every word. I find it really uplifting and powerful. It’s one I play to run to or if I need a bit of a kick.
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Tea – I literally can’t get out of bed without it.
Books – have been my world since I first began to read.
Pets – do these count family or friends? Fact is, I’ve had pets all my life and without them the house feels eerily empty and unwelcoming. Nothing better than a furry friend to greet you unjudgementally in the mornings.
Fluffy socks and gloves. I always have cold feet and hands!
My radio – I flit between Radio 4 and Radio 2. When I was on maternity leave with my first child, I first began to listen to Radio 4 and it was company during the day when I was alone for the first time. I listen to Radio 2 when I need cheering up and fancy some good old music!
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
Firstly, to have more confidence and self-belief. I was crippled for years from a lack of it.
To follow a dream and not be put off by people telling you how impossible or unlikely it is to achieve it.
Not to look at the big picture (ie the dream) and be overwhelmed by it. Rather to think of each little step along the way as a goal and achievement in itself. To revel in and enjoy the journey.
That achieving a dream is not a route to happiness. Happiness is a state of mind and unrelated to external achievements or validation. That is not to say achieving a dream isn’t lovely, but underneath the person doesn’t change so you will still be subject to the same worries and concerns, the same self-doubt, and you will continually move the goal posts!
That being yourself is fine. Not conforming to whatever everyone around you says or does is sometimes brave, but ultimately the only way to be at peace with yourself.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I have one weird eye that is half brown, half blue.
I almost emigrated to Australia in my early 20’s, only didn’t because I didn’t have £5,000 which I would have had to pay back the law firm I was contracted to start working for back in England who had sponsored me to be in Australia for a year.
A horse came to my wedding reception.
I became a German citizen in 2019.
I played the violin so badly as a child, when I removed it from its case to practice, our dogs took one look and began to howl. Every time.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
I would love nothing more than to become a household name in readers’ households. ‘Have you read the latest Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell… Louise Fein?’ That would be the ultimate dream.
To keep writing and keep growing as a writer. I just love it so much; I’d be devastated if I had to stop.
Speak a second or even third language well enough to hold a conversation. I can speak French to a degree but would like to improve. I would love to be able to speak German too.
To see all my children happy and settled into adult lives.
To make it to The Galapagos Islands. I’ve always wanted to go there.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today Louise. I love the fact that you included Whale Music despite the effect it now has on you – it did form the background to a pivotal part of your life. We are spookily alike in what we can’t live without, tea and books are a given for me. Pets I think count as family (I must re-phrase that question). You are in the company of a woman who only goes to bed without socks for about 7 nights a year. My feet are like ice! Radio 2 is also a station of choice when we’re working. Great advice to a younger self, if only we were all born with the self confidence to believe in ourselves. Good luck with your languages, being able to have a conversation in Spanish would be a dream for me – it’s a dream that I see drifting further away, the older I get! Here’s hoping you can tick off those other dreams as well.
People Like Us by Louise Fein
‘I nearly drowned and Walter rescued me. That changes everything.’
Leipzig, 1930s Germany
Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother in the Luftwaffe, herself a member of the BDM. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it.
Until Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew.
Anti-semitism is growing by the day, and neighbours, friends and family members are turning on one another. As Hetty falls deeper in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself…
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
This will be my final guest Five on Friday for this year. I want to say thank you again to Louise, as well as to all of my other guests this year who have generously shared their ‘Fives’ with us. Thank you as well, to all of you who drop by on Fridays, and who help spread the word about this feature.
Five on Friday will be back in the New Year, and my next guest feature will appear on January 8th.
I want to wish all my lovely guests and readers the best possible Christmas they can have, with all good wishes for a vastly improved year ahead.
We’ve had a strange year, but we still have books to escape with, something we possibly appreciate more than we thought we ever could. With that in mind, happy reading!!