This is the “about” section, so if you are suffering from an acute bout of insomnia or are just bored out of your skull, then this is the ideal place for you.
My name is Veronica Leigh and no I am not related to Vivien Leigh, Harper Lee or Tosca Lee. Though, I wish I were.
I was born and bred in Indiana and though I dream of seeing the world, Indiana is the only place I could ever live in. My parents were baby-boomers; my grandparents were part of the Greatest Generation so my sister and I were weaned on stories of yester year. I know more about the 1940’s than I do about my own era. Ours was a Christian household; Bible read daily, church every Sunday and without pressure from our parents, my sister and I came to know Christ personally. While we were believers, we always encouraged to think for ourselves and ask questions. My parents insisted that there was no such thing as a dumb question and if we wanted to know something, to research it on our own.
To make life interesting – and because we love them, of course- we have six fur babies: two smelly Basset Hounds, a chubby Shih-Tzu, and three tabby cats who have adopted us. It is never dull here.
The Write Stuff
I have been writing regularly since I was a kid. Everyone writes a story at some point during their childhood, but not everyone has an aunt who takes notice and critiques it. On a trip back from visiting family, my aunt and I discussed one of my stories and she invited me to join a writer’s workshop that she was to teach, geared towards senior citizens (everyone was welcome though). After some gentle persuasion, I checked it out and at age eleven I became a member and an honorary senior citizen.
After writing some girlish fluff, I wrote a novella based on a family story and attempted to get it published, but at age 16 I knew next to nothing on how the publishing world operated. That story was set aside and that is when I embarked on a seven year journey of insanity, as I wrote a novel on the Holocaust. How can it best be described- other than a freakish combination of “Schindler’s List,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Thank God it has never seen the light of day and shall forever remain hidden on an old floppy disk.
For a couple of years I wrote some Christian romances that I was sure some agent would like. WRONG.
Once more I have become sucked into the never ending vortex of the Holocaust.
Why the Holocaust?
There is no easy way to describe my unusual obsession with this dark period in history. I have no real personal connection to it. My grandfather fought in Europe during WWII, but he never spoke of what he saw over there and to my knowledge he never said a word about the Holocaust. To be honest, I knew nothing about the Holocaust until I was twelve years old. I didn’t know why my own grandfather was sent over there or why America fought in WWII.
|Anne Frank (May 1942)|
Though I thought it was cool to be able to read someone else’s private diary, I couldn’t figure out why this girl was forbidden from going to the movies, riding a bicycle, was forced to wear a yellow star and then had to hide in a warehouse behind her father’s office building. I scoured the internet and our library for more information about Anne Frank and began to understand that the Nazis (a political and military force) had invaded many countries in Europe and were persecuting the Jewish people with the intent of exterminating them all.
Considering that I was a writer and the Holocaust intrigued me, it was only a matter of time before I began to write about it.
Why not Germany or the Netherlands or France? That would be easier, right? There is certainly more information about those countries. There are two movies that convinced me that my WIP must be set in Poland.
Uprising (2001) – I remember watching this when it first aired and though I didn’t see it again for twelve years, it left a lasting impression on me. The Jewish fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto, though young and more or less on a suicide mission, they had to rely on themselves. They never lost hope and believed that someday their people would be free.
Hidden in Silence (1996)- This is a tale of Stefania and Helena Podgorksa, two young sisters who hid and saved thirteen Jews in a small attic apartment.
Something about those two stories fascinated me. In Poland, the Jews were placed in ghettos (a town inside of a town) and cut off from the rest of the world. Not only did the Germans have easy access to them, at times the Jews were on the receiving end of hatred from their Polish neighbors. Still, it was the Polish Catholics who saved more Jews than any other country in Europe. Only in Poland, was death the penalty for hiding Jews. It is also interesting to note, that the Nazis had plans to first turn the Polish population into slave laborers (which they succeeded in doing) and then exterminate them as well, since the Slavic peoples were also considered subhuman. As a result, three million Poles were murdered.
What is Hidden Places?
Well, to make a long story short, it is a novel that yours truly has been working on this last year.
And to make a short story long- for seven years I labored on a very epic, symbolic, boring novel that caused more tears than it did happiness. By 2010, I was about to pull my hair out and did lose some of my sanity until I shoved it up on that proverbial shelf. I solemnly vowed not to touch it for at least twenty years.
Towards the end of 2012, I was drained and exhausted from much personal sadness. To distract myself, I scratched out a hypothetical cast of characters, somewhat similar to what was in Epic Novel. The wheels started turning, this time in a very different direction. I heard voices. Yes, I am schizophrenic- most writers are. Jokes aside, the voice in my head was my old heroine’s but the tone was almost unrecognizable.
It was Nazi occupied Poland and as a cancerous hatred spreads across Europe, my heroine knows precisely what she wants in life. As usual, if you want to make God laugh, you tell Him your plans. Her father invites Jews to hide in their house and she must overcome her own prejudices. She thought Jews were different…until she met them.
I scribbled out possible scenes and started on it in January 2013. A month later, at 43,000 words, the first draft was completed. The words may have come quickly, but that doesn’t mean that they were necessarily good words or the right ones. In the last ten months there has been much revision and the story has morphed into a 70,000 word manuscript. I believe the story is close to the point where it is ready to be submitted to the agents. Maybe in the Spring of 2014… We’ll see.
This blog/website is dedicated to my WIP and that time period.
Sean MacKenzie- My sister, bestie and author extradonair. Not only do we swap ideas, critique each other’s work and tell each other when we’re flat out wrong, she also designed most of this website’s graphics. And she created the look for my personal blog. On top of that, she found the old vintage photo that I am using for Hanna.
My Mom- You have given me everything; love, a good home, and a wonderful Christian legacy. You have taught me everything about faith and always give me an encouraging word when I am low. You seem to have the uncanny ability to read my thoughts.
My aunts- one who critiqued my first dinky story and invited me to join her senior citizen’s writing class, the other who encourages me to question and examine all things until I am satisfied with the answer.
My grandparents- you four have been gone for a long while, but you left a lasting impression on me and live in a special place in my heart. You’re my heroes.
Last but never least- My Dad. You may no longer be on this earth, but you are never far from my thoughts. I inherited much of my Christian beliefs from Mom, but from you I got a warped sense of humor and the ability to make a joke out of everything. You never quit trying to achieve your dreams, so I will never quit trying to achieve mine.
Special thanks to- The Vigo County Public library: for putting up with all of my book and movie holds; the hundreds of inter-library loans; and having to deal with me on a weekly basis. You’re all saints.