Anne Frank: A Short Life, A Long Legacy
Today would have been the 85th birthday of Anne Frank, if she had survived the Nazi concentration camps. Anne’s diary, maintained throughout her years of hiding in the Netherlands, only came to the attention of the world after the war ended.
A diary is very personal, containing thoughts, feelings, dreams, and worries meant to be read only by the writer. I wonder what Anne would have thought about others reading her diary. If she had never been discovered and imprisoned, if she were alive today, would she have wanted anyone else to know what she was thinking, feeling during those years? I wonder what she would have written during her imprisonment if the diary had been with her. I wonder if her intent and the subjects of her writing might have changed if she had realized her words would become a record of that horrible time in history.
Journal and diary entries played an important role in my writing of Odin’s Promise. Despite hearing personal stories of the occupation years by those who lived them, despite culling through countless reports of those years in Norway’s history, I wasn’t able to find the characters and point of view to bring the story to life until I read about them through the words of young diarists of that time. They, too, kept their journals at great risk of discovery, and they, too, shared events, feelings, dreams, and worries.
I wrote Odin’s Promise as a stand-alone title, intending to share the stories and history I found both fascinating and important. The characters and experiences that emerged from my writing left me wondering “what next” for them, and also longing to share more of the additional stories and history I’d found in my research. To my great surprise (and with sincere appreciation) I’ve found that readers, too, are anxious to know “what next”.
My current efforts to draft a sequel have left me with a dilemma. I’ve read many books with a diary structure. The Diary of Anne Frank was the first, and I’ve returned to it many times since that initial childhood reading. A part of me feels compelled to continue Mari’s story through this form But I never kept a diary of my own. I fear my attempts to provide Mari with such an intimate voice could fall far short of the authentic voices of Anne and those others discovered through research.
So far I’m relying on narrative to construct the story of Mari’s ensuing occupation years. As I do so, some glimmers of alternative style have occurred to me. However the eventual writing unfolds, I’ll try to honor the courage of Anne and the others who recorded their inner and outer lives under the worst possible circumstances. If they could find the words to share their voices, I’ll work to do the same through Mari’s fictional life. To do that, just as with a diary, I’ll take it one day at a time.