Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bringing a Hero to Life: David Khara

Today I welcome David Khara, author of The Bleiberg Project, an amazing conspiracy thriller based on World War II and its consequences in today’s world. This fast-pace novel is the first in the Consortium Thriller series. The book was an instant success in France, catapulting the author to the ranks of France’s top thriller writers. Today marks the launch in English by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher specializing in best-selling mysteries and thrillers from France. 

David Khara:
Bringing a Hero to Life

How do you bring a hero to life? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked that question. And when I answer, most people seem surprised. Imagine for a second a six-foot-six bald giant, survivor of the death camps becomes a war criminal killer. Now, think about that character being inspired by a woman.

 Eytan, the real hero of the Consortium thriller series came to me after reading and watching testimonials of Simone Lagrange, who survived the death camps. For a long time, I chose not to talk about it. I did so out of respect, because I wrote an entertaining series, and I didn’t want to make any profit on people’s misery and pain. But, behind the entertainment, The Bleiberg Project, and the whole series, pays tribute to the victims of World War II, be they members of the resistance, or of course, victims of the Shoah. During my research, I found amazing, incredible stories, lived by ordinary, mostly anonymous heroes. Believe me, after spending three years digging into madness and cruelty, you really need those heroes if you want to keep believing in mankind.

If there is one thing The Bleiberg Project’s success makes me proud of, it is that I now have the opportunity to really talk about these real-life heroes. And Simone Lagrange is one of them.

To survive and to resist 

She was 13 when the Gestapo arrested her. She was questioned and tortured by the war criminal Klaus Barbie. Then she was sent to Auschwitz’s hell. But she survived, and she came back. I won’t tell you the whole story, she wrote a magnificent book (Coupable d’être née, or Guilty of Being Born). If it hasn’t been translated, it is worth learning French to read it!

In 1972, a French journalist named Ladislas de Hoyos interviewed a man in Argentina who was thought to be Klaus Barbie. The man denied being the war criminal. But Simone Lagrange saw the interview, and she recognized him. In 1987, she testified during Barbie’s trial in Lyon, revealing, certainly for the first time, that her father had been shot in front of her. Eventually, Barbie was sentenced to life imprisonment and died in jail four years later. To find out more about this trial, I strongly recommend you read this NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/02/magazine/voices-from-the-barbie-trial.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Hope and laughter 

Once again, I told you the short story. But the journey it tells is of the utmost importance. Simone Lagrange had survived and she lived to see her torturer brought to justice. And now, she testifies in front of children and cameras. In a world that lacks memory, she brings memory. But she doesn’t speak of vengeance; she doesn’t scream her hatred. With amazing energy, Simone tells us of hope and laughter, even in the most unexpected and most cruel moments. She tells us of survival and of the value of life itself.

Simone Lagrange also said, “I didn’t become what they would have wanted me to be.” That’s what resistance to barbarism is about. That’s the sentence from which Eytan was born. I hope at some points in the series, the man he is pays a little tribute to this extraordinary woman and to those who, like her, fought for their right to live. At least, because of the book, some of you will now know about Simone Lagrange. And as a writer and a man, this is more than reward enough.

1 comment:

Diana R. Chambers said...

I know people with similar stories as Simone's. Thanks for introducing us to David Khara. I look forward to catching up with his work.