Inspired by the incredible true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2
Helsingør, Denmark, 1943
In the midst of the German occupation during World War Two, Inger Bredahl joins the underground resistance and risks her life to save members of Denmark’s Jewish community and help them escape to Sweden.
Inger’s granddaughter, Cecilie Lund, is mourning her death when a mysterious discovery while cleaning out Inger’s flat leads past and present to intersect. As long-held secrets finally see the light of day, Cecilie learns the story of her grandmother’s courage and bravery, and of the power of friendship, love, and standing for what’s right…even when you have everything to lose.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I work best in the mornings, but this isn’t always practical because of my other job (translator), and various other commitments, so I’ve “taught myself” to write in the afternoons too, and I must admit this feels very satisfying. I prefer to sit somewhere soft, warm or snug (or all 3), so it’s often the sofa, in the garden in the summer, and even in my bed! Edits I prefer to do at my desk – it seems more professional somehow, don’t ask me why!
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I don’t have rituals as such, but I do a lot of my writing by long-hand and for that I prefer to use HB pencils and a medium lined A4 pad with no margin and no holes. Holes are for doodling around and therefore far too distracting! Come to think of it, this does sound a bit like a ritual…
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
I like to have a warm drink beside me like tea, herbal tea or sometimes coffee. From time to time also some chocolate or preferably licorice, but I go easy on the licorice because apparently it can lead to high blood pressure (yes, I didn’t know that either!). I never drink alcohol while writing – it just doesn’t gel for me.
– What is your favourite book?
My absolute favourite book is Passage by the American sci-fi author Connie Willis, in which she deals with the pseudo-science of near death experiences and the Titanic disaster. Together. And she makes it work 😊 Other favourites include Bleak House by Charles Dickens, The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. The list goes on.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
All the time! I don’t think my mind is focused on one particular genre. Often I simply jot down ideas or a brief outline for a story before I begin to consider where it belongs. As Henriette Gyland (my other name) I’ve written romantic suspense, sweet romance mystery as well as a novel set in the 18th century, a period I’m particularly fond of and want to return to at some point.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
This is a difficult question to answer. I suppose there will always be elements in my books based on my own morals, dreams and desires as well as the lessons I’ve learned in life, but from that core the characters will grow and develop in their own right. Occasionally I draw from people I know or have known – for better or worse – but it will only ever be a small aspect of that person, not their complete personality. I make sure they never recognise themselves, though 😉
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I try to. I feel lost without a notebook and pen at hand, but once in a while I’ve had to resort to writing down an important plot point on a napkin with a borrowed pen. I love notebooks – their smell, the feel of the pristine pages of a new one between my fingers, the thoughts they hold. I keep my old notebooks even after I’ve transferred the notes to my computer – call me a belts and braces person!
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m open to all genres, as well as subgenres of any kind. However, I’m not keen on books with gratuitous violence. It is, of course, hard to avoid violence like torture and executions in historical novels, but fortunately the authors whose work I enjoy tend to merely allude to it rather than describing it in vivid details. Then there’s the serial-killer-targetting-women-and-despatching-them-in-unspeakable-ways type novels. I generally find books like that needlessly unpleasant and misogynistic, so they’re a definite “no, thank you” from me.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book, whom would it be with?
That would be with my friend and fellow writer Christina Courtenay. I know she won’t mind me saying this but we just sort of “get” each other’s writing and understand what the other is trying to do, and it might be fun working together one day. We shall see 😊
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’d actually planned to do some research for my next book in Copenhagen over the Christmas period, but unfortunately due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 the Danish government decided to close all museums 2 days before my arrival. I’m hoping to return in spring and will combine it with a visit to see my family.
Thank you, Ella Gyland and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Originally from Denmark, I have lived in London for many years, surrounded by my family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge I try to create everywhere I go. As a linguist I love playing with words and language, and I am addicted to story-telling. I also believe strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.
Twitter: Ella/Henriette Gyland, @henrigyland