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The Story Behind The Story by Christa Polkinhorn

I always enjoy finding out about “the story behind the story” in a work of fiction. Knowing what triggers a story or a novel is not only interesting but gives us an insight into the creative process.

Therefore, I would like to give my present and future readers a glimpse into the background of my novel LOVE OF A STONEMASON. This is now the second volume in my Family Portrait trilogy but the first one I wrote and published. 

It was a series of deaths in my family and among my friends a few years ago that made me pick up pen and paper and my laptop. Within three months, I lost my mother, my brother-in-law, and one of my closest friends. The death of my mother left me as the last survivor of our immediate family, my father and my only sister having passed on years before. After the funeral, I began the difficult task of cleaning out our family home in Switzerland, getting it ready for renovations. I shuffled through old documents, read letters my parents, my sister, and I exchanged, while I lived abroad. I even found a love letter my father had written to my mother while he served in the Swiss Army during the Second World War. I took down my father's paintings in the home--he was an artist as a young man--and wrapped them, so they wouldn't get damaged during the renovation. I met with a stonemason to talk about the tombstone on my parent's grave. 

One evening, I was sitting in front of the fireplace in the only room in our house that wasn't full of boxes and bags, staring into the flames. It was a cold January night. Thick snowflakes were floating to the ground. I finally had time to reflect and to mourn and I did what I always do when I am in an intense period of my life. I began to write. 

I wrote about a young painter, who struggled with loss and loneliness, about a stonemason, who carved tombstones and who, interestingly enough, became the harbinger of new life for the young woman. I wrote about family, the conflicts and upheavals that sometimes bring us to the breaking point, but also the joy that we experience with those close to us.

The novel is pure fiction, all the characters are made up, but the building blocks of the story can be found somewhere in my own life. Over the following few years and with the help and support of some very dear friends, the book took on shape. What began as a time of death and loss was transformed into something life affirming, and uplifting.

In the meantime, LOVE OF A STONEMASON has developed into the FAMILY PORTRAIT trilogy. The novels are available in print form on CreateSpace and as ebooks on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other venues. Links to the books, to my blog, and more information is available on my website:

On my website, I also created picture tours of my novels.  They show some of the places that served as inspiration for my books. Click at the Picture Tour tab on sit back and join me on my real and imaginary journeys.

Born and raised in Switzerland, I have always had the desire to explore the world outside of my beautiful but tiny country. As a young woman, I traveled through Europe, came to the United States on an exchange program, and ended up staying. My travels led me to China and Japan as well as South America. I studied literature and linguistics in Zurich and California. Now, I live and work as writer and translator in southern California and divide my time between the United States and my native Switzerland. The tension and excitement this “double life” creates informs my literary work. Most of my novels take place in several countries. Aside from writing and traveling, I am an avid reader and a lover of the arts and dark chocolate. I published three novels in the FAMILY PORTRAIT series, AN UNCOMMON FAMILY, LOVE OF A STONEMASON and EMILIA as well as a collection of poems, PATH OF FIRE. AN UNCOMMON FAMILY is also available in German under the title EINE UNGEWÖHNLICHE FAMILIE.

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