When I decided to write a novel set during the 1950s, the first problem I had to tackle was the exact year. The building of air bases and army posts provided plenty of material, to be sure. But the decisive factor for setting my book in 1958 was the arrival of Elvis Presley in Germany on October 1, 1958, when he joined the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg.
That explains the word “Oktober” with its German spelling. Oktober not only conjures up images of beer and harvest festivals, but also Cold War novels and movies. Heat, on the other hand, is not only a slang word for police, but also a term for excitement, thrill, enthusiasm, stress, passion – all of which occur in the book.
Once I settled on a month and year I was ready to research in earnest. During my next visits to Germany I scoured newspaper and photo archives to get an idea of current events, weather, fashion, lifestyle, and the availability of consumer goods. I found old photos particularly helpful in bringing my characters to life. Research was so much fun that I am now considering a sequel to my novel. It will take years to finish it, I am sure, because I will publish a picture book about birds next spring. Stay tuned for updates!
Doris Dumrauf is the author of “Oktober Heat” and “Create Your Own Backyard Wildlife Habitat