How true are the family histories that tell us who we are and where we come from? Who knows how much all the beautiful liars have embargoed or embellished the truth?
During a long flight from Europe to Sydney to bury her mother, Australian expat Katrina Klain reviews the fading narrative of her family and her long quest to understand her true origins. This has already taken her to Vienna, where she met her Uncle Harald who embezzled the Austrian government out of millions, as well as Carl Sokorny, the godson of one of Hitler’s most notorious generals, and then on to Geneva and Berlin. Not only were her family caught up with the Nazis, they also turn out to have been involved with the Stasi in post-war East Germany.
It’s a lot to come to terms with, but there are more revelations in store. After the funeral, she finds letters that reveal a dramatic twist which means her own identity must take a radical shift. Will these discoveries enable her to complete the puzzle of her family’s past?
Inspired by her own life story, Sylvia Petter’s enthralling fictional memoir set between the new world and the old is a powerful tale about making peace with the past and finding closure for the future.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Els. I´d be pleased to answer your questions.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I usually write on the kitchen table even though I have a dedicated office. I write in the morning when the house is quiet, or late at night. Maybe that table because it´s close to food and drink.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I usually check my emails to see what awaits me in my day job, so that I then can have some no-stress writing time. But sometimes out of the blue, an idea hits me, and I sit down to write, usually in longhand and things can change as I type up, and then I´m off.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Black coffee in the morning, red wine at night.
– What is your favourite book?
Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley. It helped me through many drafts of All the Beautiful Liars and I´m grateful to Timothy Findley who mentored me for my novel and suggested his book could help me and that it didn´t matter how long mine took to write.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Yes. I´m working on a political cozy crime novel set in Austria, and I want to revise a travel romance novella set in France and interspersed with recipes.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes, but only bits and pieces of them that get mixed about and seem to take off on their own.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I try to, but I sometimes forget the notebook, and so I have lots of scribbles on paper serviettes, bits of newspaper, anything to jot something down on. And I only use cheap exercise books because I find beautiful notebooks too beautiful to scribble in.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m a real scaredy cat, so I shy away from horror.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I´ve co-written some sci-fi with members of an online writing group which was fun, and a hybrid poetry/prose work with another author, both years ago and as exercises that remain unpublished. I think I´d like to co-write with mystery writer Donna-Lane Nelson, whom I know from my Geneva days when we vetted each other´s manuscripts.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I live in a foreign country. I´m an Australian in Austria, and I´ve lived in France, Switzerland and Belgium, and stayed for longer periods for work in a host of other countries. I find though that when I´m away from a country, I can write better about what I´ve seen there. It takes a while for things to gel for me.
Thank you, Sylvia Petter and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.
She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.
After living for 25 years in Switzerland, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.
For a limited time, All the Beautiful Liars will be available for only 99p.