Blood of the Reich Q & A
A: I read about a real-life Nazi expedition to Tibet in 1938, its purpose still debated to this day. I decided to write a novel combining Nazi conspiracy with an imperiled young Seattle woman who finds that everything she thought she knew about herself is wrong. This is my most intricate novel, weaving three story lines from 1938 and the present day. They come together and lead to the explosive climax at the CERN supercollider outside Geneva. This one roams from Heinrich Himmler to particle physics, and from Washington’s Cascade Mountains to the Kunlun Mountains in Tibet.
Q: Did you go to Tibet?
A: Yes. It’s a fascinating mix of the medieval and the modern, of ancient faith and a weird modern hybrid of capitalistic communism. China rules Tibet with an iron hand and the Dalai Lama has been exiled, but it is also modernizing the province and allowing monasteries to reopen, since they’ve become tourist attractions for middle-class Chinese. Strange, weird, tragic, wonderful. My visit went from the capital of Lhasa to the base of Mount Everest (16,000 feet high!) and then down into Nepal.
Q: So this is a conspiracy thriller?
A: A thriller with a theme. I was baffled but intrigued by the appeal of the Nazis, and realized they offered the defeated Germans the chance to regard themselves as special, chosen, a master race. And then they used this invented superiority to prey on another chosen people, the Jews. “Blood” has multiple meanings in this novel, which explores the dangers when people who want to be significant (as do we all!) follow blindly and began to perceive others as less than human. I’ve encountered in my journalism both this seductive pitch (you are special!) and its disastrous consequences when pedaled by demagogues. This goes on in America today.
Q: What’s the connection between a Seattle software worker and 1938 Nazis?
A: That’s the suspense and mystery, of course. When Rominy Pickett’s car blows up in a Safeway parking lot, is she being kidnapped by a handsome tackler, or saved? Is Himmler’s 1938 expedition a lunatic quest, or the hunt for strange new energies we seriously seek right now? And could Rominy hold the key to the fate of the world?
Q: But it’s all made up, right?
A: The Nazi expedition was real, Himmler’s SS castle is real, the legends of Shambhala and strange powers are real, and the quest of contemporary physicists to understand what the universe is really made of is real. Truth can be stranger than fiction.