This third book in my little library was the hardest topic I’ve ever written about. Once I began researching it, I knew I had to write Touching the Wire.

The initial inspiration came from a television report about Nazi war criminals living incognito after the war. Joseph Mengele, the doctor who carried out horrendous medical experiments on twins, lived out his days under a false name in Argentina, and there were many others. I began wondering how I would feel if someone I knew, or God forbid, someone I loved, was revealed as such a monster. The thought caused such a turmoil of emotion that, to be honest, I didn’t know. Could I forgive them?

It took me the whole of the book before I felt I could begin to answer that question. I often shook my head in disbelief at the brutal inhumanities the Nazi regime inflicted on their prisoners. The research was so upsetting, I often had to walk away, take the dog out, breathe clean air, and try to convince myself I was doing the right thing. It was the knowledge that the women of Auschwitz couldn’t walk away that kept me writing. I needed to honour their courage and not let their terrible deaths be forgotten.

By ‘doing the right thing’ I mean the relationship and love story that blossomed in the death camp. The Holocaust has to be one of the most emotive subjects I could have chosen to write about, and I was desperate not to offend survivors or their families.

The unusual and possibly contentious relationship was inspired by an experience I had in Tesco. My husband had not long left me. I was desperately unhappy, suicidal most days, so alone and lonely, and trying to run a business, work twelve hours a day, and raise two young children.

I felt totally isolated and craved human contact so much. Going shopping was an almost impossible necessity, but I’d dragged myself out and was moping along the alleyways wishing I could drop dead so I didn’t have to face another minute of misery. Over the top of a display popped the face of a young black man.

He smiled at me.

I smiled back.

In that moment, had he asked me to go home with him, I would have left the store with a complete stranger just for a smile or a hug. So when Miriam falls for Chuck, I knew that in moments of dire distress, a smile, or a little kindness can change your world, as it did hers.

Forgiveness is a whole different ball game. In order to give myself the best chance of answering my own question – could I forgive – I based the ‘perpetrator’ on the person I loved most in the world, my maternal grandfather. If I could forgive anyone anything, I reasoned, it would be him.

Touching the Wire went through more drafts and versions than any book I’ve written and had three titles before I settled on the one under which the story is published. The only escape, other than the gas chambers, for these women was to touch the electric fence that surrounded the camp compounds.

By the end of writing the story, I concluded that it is not so much what you can forgive as who. If you love someone enough, you can probably forgive them anything even if you can’t condone their actions.



  1. Oh, Rebecca, just reading this is heart wrenching! I’ll pick up a copy once Amazon UK makes it available for purchase. This is the second book this morning where they’ve said an ebook isn’t in stock, so I suspect they’re having problems. Wishing you all the best. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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