I used to be a newspaper reporter and have a pretty good idea what’s required to write a story. It involves doing research and speaking to people who can help you out. But writing a novel about the last living survivor of the Holocaust, and one that takes place in the future yet, does throw a bit of a wrinkle into the mix.
A story like that, even fiction, needs research, especially when you’re dealing with the life of a little boy who is born in a Jewish ghetto and is later whisked away to Auschwitz with his family. He is the only one who survives.
Over a period of years I did a lot of research on the Holocaust, and after I mapped out where my story was going – both the near-future story and the flashbacks – I zeroed in on books, documents, you name it – that would serve my purpose. It meant learning all about the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, Poland, and the massive death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. But reading only does so much for you. You still need people.
And so, I met with a number of real-life, former child survivors. One of them was a woman who miraculously made it out of Auschwitz at the age of nine. Another survivor was only three when he was liberated and doesn’t remember much, but the scars he has carried for his entire life are much in evidence. Then there was the man who spent three of his teenage years in a Jewish ghetto, and was about to commit suicide along with his mother and father when they were liberated.
Every person I met had their own unique story to tell, and there is a little bit of each of them in my character.
The Last Witness wasn’t only about writing a novel. It became a personal mission for me to try and deal with the worst calamity ever to befall a race of people, and to inject that last living survivor – my last living survivor – into a future world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about what happened. And should there be any doubts about such a future, I suggest you watch this video where we asked university students today what they know about the Holocaust and World War II. Not surprisingly, at least to me, they didn’t know very much.
About the book:
The year is 2039, and Jack Fisher is the last living survivor of the Holocaust. Set in a world that is abysmally ignorant and complacent about events of the last century, Jack is a 100-year-old man whose worst memories took place before he was 5. His story hearkens back to the Jewish ghetto of his birth and to Auschwitz where, as a little boy, he had to fend for himself to survive after losing all his family. Jack becomes the central figure in a missing-person investigation when his granddaughter suddenly disappears. While assisting police, he finds himself in danger and must reach into the darkest corners of his memory to come out alive.
The Last Witness on Amazon:http://amzn.to/14jlgXQ
Jerry Amernic is a Toronto writer who has been a newspaper reporter and correspondent, newspaper columnist, feature contributor for magazines, and media consultant. He has taught writing and journalism at college, and is the author of several books.
His first book was Victims: The Orphans of Justice, a true story about a former police officer whose daughter was murdered. The man became a leading advocate for victims of crime. Jerry later wrote a column on the criminal justice system for The Toronto Sun, and has since been a contributor to many other newspapers. In 2007 he co-authored Duty – The Life of a Cop with Julian Fantino, the highest-profile police officer Canada has ever produced and currently a member of the country’s federal Cabinet.
Jerry’s first novel Gift of the Bambino (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) was widely praised by the likes of The Wall Street Journal in the U.S., and The Globe and Mail in Canada. His latest novel is the historical thriller The Last Witness, which is set in the year 2039 and is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. The biblical-historical thriller Qumran will be released next. It’s about an archeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.
- Jerry’s Website: http://thelastwitness.ca/
- Jerry’s Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1DuRSdn
- Jerry’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jerryamernic
- Jerry’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1312217.Jerry_Amernic