The seed of this story did not begin with a superhero. At Clarion West last summer, I leaped headfirst into the opportunity to explore my long-time fascination with history of the women of Ravensbruck, a Nazi labor camp. The amazing women who survived until the camp’s liberation have been largely responsible for compiling and keeping alive the stories and artifacts of the camp, which include those traveling as an exhibit I visited at the University of Central Florida when I was an undergraduate.
The strength and courage of the women of Ravenbruck was fortified, according to their stories, by small gifts they made for one another, books smuggled in, and a choir formed to keep their spirits up. The sharing of these humanizing tokens and activities may have been an important factor that kept some of the women alive in the face of brutal treatment and poor nutrition.
Inserting a character of my own (not to mention a speculative element) into their story seemed risky. I want to honor the memory of the survivors of a concentration camp because these women are heroes in their own right; they rescued themselves, and others, at great personal cost. If in my story a time traveler visited the camp to save a particular person, how could that be accomplished, and at what risk to the legitimacy of the narrative?
I decided the story was about an otherwise ordinary woman from the future and a book that would offer hope. That’s all. The visitor would suffer just as the other women suffered and strive to accomplish her goal of encouraging someone else’s survival.
The story is about taking risks, about being a hero even when no one else is watching, and it’s a story that waited in the back of my brain for many years. I’m glad I took the risk and let it out into the world.