Robin Melhuish, the author of three novels, was born in Hertfordshire, UK in 1950. He graduated in Analytical Chemistry in 1972 before being head-hunted by a company to work in Germany. Here he deepened his childhood hobby of collecting German stamps, learning valuable lessons in German history.
The majority of his working life was spent travelling widely in the Far East and Eastern Europe in international sales and marketing, a period that gave him time to visit historical places and meet many people.
His time in Indonesia was particularly rewarding giving him insights into another culture. He bought a farmhouse in the Czech Republic, restored it, taking time to enjoy that country’s history.
Finally, he decided to move to North Cyprus with his wife Yasmin, where he found the peace and tranquility to write. He still is an ardent history fan and keen collector of German stamps.
In his own words:
I get asked a lot about my motivation to write. There’s no real answer, the dreams of riches and kudos, celebrity interviews and all that, are simply dreams. The saying that, ‘if you want to get rich writing, get a job, and if you want to get even richer, get a second job,’ have never been truer. There are a lot of great musicians out there but very few rock stars. So what’s the secret? Is there even a secret?
In retrospect, I think the answer is time, practice and patience (something which I lack completely,) plus having a good story to tell. Many of my friends who write say that keeping a notebook is handy, so that you can write things down. My opinion of this is the opposite, because if you cannot remember the point of interest even years later, then it can’t have been very interesting.
All That Remains began as a rambling first draft back in the early nineties and once completed and read through, got the reward it deserved; it got dumped in the bottom of a drawer. It was only when I moved to Northern Cyprus and had to pack and dispose of stuff that wasn’t coming with me, that the draft resurfaced and I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Whilst unpacking in my new home a neighbour picked it up and asked what it was? Dismissively, I told him it was an attempt at wring a novel, but it was horrible.
At the time it was over 400 hundred pages (A4) and so full of typos as to be practically unintelligible. Undaunted the neighbour asked to read it. After several days he came back with a printout and said that inside all the mess was an incredible story. That was back in 2007, I was still working and commuting between Cyprus and Germany at the time.
Things settled down, my trips to Germany grew less frequent and the story began to grow in my mind, albeit a different one to my first draft.
The passing years since penning the initial draft had left me with several bonuses, a creative writing course at the University of Kassel, contact with a lot of Germans, to whom I talked about the story, and who came up with anecdotes from the war years that enriched my understanding, and last but not least, allowed me to develop a fascination for the period of German history between 1945 and 1950.
My first draft came out of hiding. It had been written in Word, a version that came with Windows for Workgroups, and ‘safely’ stored on a 5 ¼” floppy disc, (remember those?). Then the revision and the research really started. My family (I am half German by the way) was extremely helpful and also characteristic of the times, seemingly fairly split between opposition to the National Socialist Regime and its policies and the other side fanatically for it.
A photo of my great grandparents golden wedding party, taken in 1928 surfaced and made the topic more intriguing. Many of the men dressed in uniforms (amongst them the earlier versions of the SS). The golden wedding party was in Wewelsburg, which I had visited before, but now went back to with new eyes. This wasn’t just history anymore, this was family history.
I talked to many of the older inhabitants of the village who were helpful, if initially reticent in telling the stories of meeting the likes of Bormann, Himmler, Speer and other high ranking Nazi officials. I spoke to a woman who was part of the breeding program, and then had the benefit of my father’s experiences during his time with the Allied Control Commission.
My story began to take shape in a way I hadn’t envisaged, I lost myself in my study for three weeks in high summer, my keyboard full of sweat as the temperatures soared to over 30°C even with air conditioning. Eventually I had a version I thought was the next Nobel Literature dead cert.
I never realised how much work was involved in getting it in sequence, correcting the grammar and formatting in order to make it readable. Even though I had trimmed the initial story of 400 plus pages to a slim 305, I was still unhappy, not only with the length, but also the composition.
The many points of view, when I reread it, confused even me, so I knew deep down it wasn’t going to float. I put it back in the drawer. A further year went by, but the story wouldn’t leave me alone; it was the subject of many after-dinner conversations.
A retired German army general pointed out that some of my history was askew, chronologically out of kilter, a stamp collector corrected my knowledge of philately and pointed me to the ‘Bund Deutsche Filatalisten’ (Association of German Philatelists), which sent me googling all the events in my story. Once that was clear in my head I went back and re-wrote it completely.
So now you have it: All That Remains. All that remains of an initial visit to a war cemetery and a restored castle in the middle of Germany and all that remains of my first manuscript and memories of the past. ~Robin Melhuish
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SUMMARY: It’s 1976, the Second World War has been over for more than 30 years, but still there are rumours of hidden Nazi treasures making the rounds. The recent ‘find’ of the Polish Gold Train in Wałbrzych is a prime example.
Alastair Wainwright, an Englishman, is a passionate German stamp collector. For him, the missing serif off a numeral on a stamp tells more about the history of the country than a whole heap of books. The chance find of a letter from 1945 in an antique shop, leads him to uncover a trail of love, deceit and corruption that spanned the war years and climaxed in the meltdown of Nazi Germany. Finding a letter may not be unusual in itself, but the chances of finding the reply to that letter on Houses of Parliament notepaper is.
These two letters may be the clue to possibly solving the last big secret of the Third Reich; the German War Chest, which all but disappeared in 1945.
HALF ‘N HALF BOOK: This author has graciously allowed you to download the first HALF of the book FREE, so that you can read it and decide if you wish to purchase it in full ($3.99) in Kindle, ePub, or PDF formats. Click HERE for the FREE download.
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by Robin Melhuish
Published by: Alt Publish | May 2017