Literally Reruns, Short Fiction

Literally Reruns – The Last Light of the Library by Jennie Boyes

Versatile Jennie Boyes’ The Last Light of the Library accomplishes the tough task of giving something you can look up a sense of immediacy. It is also intimate within the vastness of war. Many rightfully claim that the allied position in World War II was just–I’d never argue that, but it doesn’t mean that actions such as what happened in this story or the firebombing of Dresden were just. It’s trite to state: War is evil, no matter what side you’re on. But it is also the truth.

Q: How much research did this piece require?

Q: Your characters shine through beautifully. Was it difficult to place yourself in the mind of the MC?

Leila

***

Jennie’s responses:

Q: How much research did this piece require?

Thanks again for choosing my story for a re-run, Leila!

It required a bit of research, but mostly because I’m not overly familiar with Prague’s history (trying to rectify that). I’m not too sure now how everything came together, but I knew I wanted one of my characters to be an academic struggling under occupation, and for the story to be set during/after a bombing raid, so that was my starting point. I knew the Allies had bombed Prague but I found out more details, for example that air raid sirens went off fairly regularly because Allied planes would fly over Prague on their way to Germany; sadly because of this, a lot of people were caught off-guard during the raid in February 1945 (most sources I read seemed to agree that raid was a navigation error – Dresden was the target). I also wasn’t certain where the bombs had landed, so I tried to look into this a bit as well and loosely reference this in the story.

It’s estimated that about two million Czechoslovakian books were destroyed or stolen by the Nazis, and academics and students suffered under the occupation. Tragically, hundreds of students were sent to concentration camps following two demonstrations in 1939; some academics were killed and universities were closed. Knowing this background was central for the development of Josef’s character, but it was also important for Anna’s, since she chose to be with Josef knowing this could put her at risk.

Q: Your characters shine through beautifully. Was it difficult to place yourself in the mind of the MC?

Ah thank you, I’m glad they came through well. I’m married to an academic, so that helped! I wouldn’t say that Anna and Josef are based on either of us though – they are definitely their own people in their own very challenging situation – but I did wonder while writing this what we would do in the same circumstances.

4 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – The Last Light of the Library by Jennie Boyes”

  1. My thanks to Jennie for taking the time to brilliantly answer my humble questions. I encourage everyone to read this as well as the other wonderful works we have by Jennie Boyes in our archives.
    Leila

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  2. Hi Leila,
    Great choice and for anyone reading this, the use of the word ‘versatile’ in Leila’s introduction is very apt.
    I would say that if we had a list of the sites most interesting writers, Jenny would be up there with the best of them!!

    Jenny, I’ve loved every one of your stories.
    It’s brilliant when I’m reading, for me, to realise how much thought a writer has put in. Now we can argue that some stories do write themselves but the writer has to be open to those whispers and trust their ability and the content no matter where it takes them.
    I can see that this was one of those where you did some research. That can come across as more of a history lesson but you also handled the background factuality’s superbly.
    I feel that you are always true to your stories, that is refreshing and honest!!!
    It was brilliant seeing this have another day in the sun!!
    Thanks so much ladies!!
    Hugh

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Hugh! I like your point about trusting a story and going where it takes you. I think a lot of writers probably strive for that sweet spot when you’re in ‘the zone’ and the story takes on a life of its own. It’s a wonderful feeling when it happens, but can be damn frustrating when it doesn’t. This was one of those stories where the leg work beforehand helped the story write itself. I absolutely agree that we should follow the whispers though and stay true to the story and characters. I’d say you’re a master at doing that, and it’s one of the things I love about your writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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