Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review & Interview: Section 132 by Helga Zeiner

Please welcome author Helga Zeiner who is promoting her book Section 132.  Stay tuned for her interview after my thoughts about the book,

Giveaway details:  The author has kindly offered on ecopy of her book.  Just leave a comment with a valid e-mail.  This will be open until August 25, 3012.

Author: Helga Zeiner
Publisher: POW wow Books
Date of Publication: July 2011

Lillian grows up in an American fundamentalist Mormon sect which still practices polygamy. At thirteen she becomes the child-bride of a Canadian Bishop. His compound is located deep in the wilderness of British Columbia, totally isolated from the rest of the world. 

I believe in honest reviews, so I will start by saying that I didn't finish this book. The reason for this is NOT because it is poorly written or because of a weak plot.  On the contrary,  Section 132 is very well written and compelling. I thought the synopsis sounded interesting when I was approached for the blog tour, so I decided to try it out.   But it deals with a subject that I found very uncomfortable to read about and I had a hard time finishing it.  Perhaps it is because I have a daughter who is just a few years away from the main character's age that it bothered me so much. I can't really pinpoint why.  

The book deals with a fundamentalist Morman sect very much like the ones that have dominated the news in the past couple of years. In this community, Brother Jacob, deems himself the Bishop and takes on many child brides. While he believes it is what God intended, he does nothing to care for them properly.  The women and children are forced to work and live in appalling conditions.  In reality, he is nothing but an insane pedophile and murderer. When we enter the story, he "marries" Lillian who is just 13.  Yes, it is as horrifying as it sounds and her initiation scene was hard to stomach. I was appalled by the way the women of the compound allowed themselves to be treated the way they were.  I know that they were raised that way, but it was still disturbing. The story alternates between Lillian and a land developer, Richard, who has purchased the land next to the compound.

Section 132 has gotten great reviews and I definitely think that readers should give it a try.  While the book wasn't for me, I would still recommend it to others who are interested in this subject. 

What inspired you to become a writer

It was actually a person: my dad. I have been making up stories as soon as I could hold a pen. When I had written an essay for school, my dad usually got the whole family together and made me read it to them. I loved it – I guess those were my first ‘book-readings’.
Quite frankly, I don’t remember many of those essays. Some must have been pretty awful - I was still a child, searching for the best way to express myself - but he always praised my work and encouraged me. He was so proud of my talent, I wish he would still be around and share the joy of seeing my work published.

Where do you come up with the idea for your book?

I have no idea where the initial spark comes from. Something captures my attention and doesn’t let go any more. It’s a bit obsessive. I can’t stop thinking about it and when I start to dig deeper into it, I suddenly discover that information about this subject is all around me. In this crazy research stage my protagonists start appearing. They talk to me, argue with me and become part of my every-day life. Usually they tell me when it’s time to sit down and write about them. My first draft is written in an all-consuming manner and takes me only about 2 to 3 months for a novel of approx. 450 pages.

What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

I have a project lined up which I’m currently researching. It is top secret as it is a very hot topic and I don’t want to give anything away at this stage. While I’m researching, which is usually quite time-consuming, waiting for official replies etc, I am currently translating one of the novels I have originally written in German. To move between the languages is a lot of fun. I discovered that my writing styles in the different languages are quite different.

Who is your favorite literary character and why?

My current favorite is still Liz Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. She is independent, smart, strong, yet also vulnerable and sensitive. Just like many women are. Most female protagonists in the novels I write are like that. They have to overcome enormous difficulties to succeed in life and fulfill their dreams.

Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

An eagle! I have always wanted to soar into the sky and look at the world below from a perspective of ultimate freedom. I wanted this so much that I took up skydiving when I was 25. I have jumped out of airplanes, hot-air balloons and helicopters over 200 times. Diving through the sky is exhilarating beyond imagination, yet I still think the eagle has an advantage. He can stay up there as long as he likes.

Thanks Helga!

About the author:

Helga Zeiner Canadian and German citizen. At the age of 18, having completed her arts degree at the Art School of Bavaria, Helga Zeiner left Germany. She then lived and worked for two years in Australia and twelve years in Hong Kong. Since 2004 she and her husband Manfred live in the wilderness of British Columbia, about 5 hours north of Vancouver. There they own over 500 acres which they have developed into a gated cabin community, the Rainbow Country Estate. For as long as Helga can remember, she has been writing novels, usually in her spare time. However, nowadays most of her time is devoted to writing. Several of her novels have been published in Germany already: Magische Tage, Lesani Verlag, 1997 – a Hong Kong novel Machtgelüste, Bastei-Lübbe, 1999 – a Hong Kong novel Magische Tage, Weltbild Verlag, 2006 Das Geheimnis von Lake Lousie, Fredebold&Fischer, 2007 – a Canadian novel Feuermeer, Fredebold&Fischer, 2008 – an Australian novel Silberbüchse und Bärentöter - e-book,


CMash said...

Thank you for your honest review and great post and interview. I can understand how it was difficult for you with comparing the story with your own daughter. But since I did finish the book, I agree with you that it was a compelling read, and yes due to the intense research the author did, it fictionalized a very real topic that is hard to comprehend by many.

Mary Ellen said...

This sounds like an extremely interesting book. Something different for me try. Please accept my entry in the giveaway. Thank you.