Good day my friends! With the holidays approaching, I’d thought it best to make good use of some of my free time and introduce a few tidbits regarding the recent release of my debut novel, Reinheit. If you haven’t read yet (somewhat presumptuous that you will eventually be a reader, or at least I hope), no worries. There will be no major spoilers found here. My aim is to give a little insight behind the curtain on some of the subject matter discussed throughout the book. And perhaps some insight into what inspired me to write the macabre story in the first place. Reinheit was released back in early October and I’ve hinted on some of the story via “sneak peeks,” however, I have yet to actually discuss the book from an author’s perspective. So, with great joy and anticipation, I give you an insider’s look at Reinheit. Enjoy!
As I said before, Reinheit was released back in early October. The length is roughly about 164 pages on the Kindle app and the genre is horror thriller. But this information you can find on Amazon. You’re here, I hope, for something deeper that isn’t included within the strict confines of a blurb. For starters, what does Reinheit even mean? Reinheit is the German word for purity or uncontaminated. If you have read the book, the choosing of the title may make more sense now; however, if you have not yet read Reinheit, allow me to explain. Purity and contamination are key themes throughout the entire book. From start to finish, those meanings play a role. I cannot go into too much detail, but allow me, if you will, to show you what I mean through some of the characters you’ll find within the pages.
Major Eric Schröder: As an Nazi SS officer, his character deals with purity in a very real and terrifying sense. His secret life also plays into notions of purity and contamination. He is a true believer in Hitler’s vision of the Third Reich, the Thousand Year Reich as some have called it. He believes almost without question, though at times he does doubt the methodology in victory. Schröder is in command of one of the Einsatzgruppen units. These units are real and a tragic part of history. Made up of everyday men, regular blue collar folks, these units followed behind the regular German army into the eastern front and “liquidated” entire Jewish ghettos. The Einsatzgruppen were the solution before Concentration Camps turned into killing camps, before the gas chambers. In writing the story, I needed and wanted to use Schröder’s character to give a foundation of sorts for the theme purity. To show how notions of pure society can lead to terrible things. And while Schröder is a vile character for the horrifying things he does or orders others to do, he is, in his own way, a sympathetic character because of the secret life he is hiding, even from his own beloved SS. Or I should say, a secret hidden especially from the SS.
Frank Moss: a really, really, really loathed Frank’s character. I had to tap into some really dark places and imagine some really horrible things. Frank, much like Schröder, has a “different” look on life. He’s a traditionalist in the worst kind of way. An abuser and gets off on the suffering of others, especially his wife, Rebecca. When writing, originally, Rebecca was going to be the mechanism with the armchair, the carrying on, of sorts, of historic sin. However, when Frank’s character began to develop more fully, it became apparent that he would be the ideal host for the armchair to latch on to. Rebecca was simple the obstacle, in a way, that came between Frank’s later mission and those he aimed to hurt. The only sympathy for Frank, that I found, was his family history. His father was a drunk and a fiend. The idea of Frank becoming just as his father was, is a common motif and a tragic reality. I’m talking statics, of course. Not ever abused becomes the abuser. Frank and Schröder are both linked together in the story as antagonists.
Weber’s Auction House: okay. The idea that places and things can absorb the essence of those it interacts kinda terrifies me. I mean, what If someone really vile cherished a particular piece of furniture? Or what about a building surrounded by tragedy? What would happen to those places and things if that were true? That the corruption and tragedy lived on in these things? The armchair itself was born from this notion, as you see from the very get go in the book, Schröder owned the armchair that eventually comes under the possession of Frank Moss. Weber’s auction house became the go between with the past and the present. As it seems, the armchair was drawn to particular places equally as scarred as itself. The chapter dealing with Weber’s auction house was my favorite. I love the idea of historic echos, how strong emotions like tragedy can ripple through time and shape a place. The idea that I played with was what happens to our past civilizations? Are they really gone? Buried beneath us? Or does something, an essence you might say, live on?
Braun: Despite his past, I really enjoyed writing Braun’s character. He is the main human connection between the past and the present. He was part of the Einsatzgruppen unit under the command of Major Schröder, and carried out many damnable actions. And, in a way, he really never learned from his own mistakes. He is the very definition of a conflicted character trope. And a very tragic one, at that. His character is linked with Rebecca Moss, but represents how protagonists are not always heroes and they do not always succeed. Despite his failings, I believe his was a brave character, if not perhaps a little mad!
Clyde: You will not see Clyde much in the story. He is a very minor character, among many. However, he does represent an important aspect of the theme, purity and contamination. His character also represents the idea of the sins of the father kind of motif. Different from Frank’s abusive father, Clyde’s dad was an intentional abuser, though not with fists, but with words and the things he shared with his son. Clyde also became a catalyst for the end…on that, I cannot reveal too much. Clyde was also a fun character to write. A real creep and simpleton. But dark and dangerous all the same.
Why did I write Reinheit? And what is my style of horror?
Well…to answer this let me ask you what you think/feel when you hear the word NAZI. What comes to mind? Typically, when one thinks of the word Holocaust and the word Nazis, we think “blood thirsty Jew hating maniacs,” right? Well…as it actually turns out, the Einsatzgruppen, and all Nazis for that matter (or most, I should say) were just regular folk, ordinary men and women who believed in their particular cause, as murderous and heinous as it was. There are many scholars and historians and psychologists that argue for the precise causality for such brutal actions as seen during this time period; however, how can there be only one cause? I think Hannah Arendt said it best, that “the sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” In the end, perhaps maybe it all boils down to our culture and how we see the world, which is a precarious conversation in and of itself. It is my opinion that when we distrust our systems, we distrust ourselves. When we see other people as them and not us, we separate everyone and everything into boarders. We no longer see people as just that, people. The Einsatzgruppen has taught us a lesson that came at a terrible price, yet the world ultimately continues to function all the same. We still think in terms of us and them. Or as one of my history professors once put it, “We think in terms of othering.” Or as John Carpenter, a true legend of terrifying horror, once said, “The camp fire story is an easier one to sale. The enemy is out there, not us, in the woods, away from the fire. The other story is harder to tell. Where we say we have met the enemy, the enemy is us, we are the enemy.” Though, as hard as it may be, I honestly, unequivocally, believe that horror is one of the best mediums in which to have these kinds of discussions. I write horror because I love the genre and because it is the most honest expression of social commentary — period.
My style in horror I’d say is realism, because “storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” I love monster stories, but the best monster stories deal with the banality of it. The real horror is that we all in some capacity are capable of committing horrible acts, either it be cutting someone off on the highway or cutting someone off with a chain saw. Evil is something banal that lives within each and every one of us. The difference being how we react to said evil. Do we control ourselves or do we allow the beast to roam free?
Well, I believe I’ve made this post about long enough, wouldn’t you say! I hope you enjoyed this little insider’s look. Reinheit is available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. I’d love to gain you as a reader. If you have already read, please stop by Amazon and leave a comment. All writers thrive on feedback, but it is especially important for indie writers such as myself. Feedback is how we gauge if what we write reaches its mark. If there are things we should improve upon or things we need to keep doing. And, honestly, it is always nice to hear someone enjoyed the tale. This is something all storytellers cherish.
Thomas S Flowers