The Amber Crane by Malve von Hassell is a Powerful Work of Time-Slip Historical Fiction, Inspired by Legends from the Baltic Sea

Pushing the boundaries of time-slip fiction and of your imagination, The Amber Crane by Malve von Hassell is a tale of a journey from the past into an unimaginable future.

Malve von Hassell is an award-winning author, researcher, freelance writer, and translator.

She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research and has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College.

In addition to her academic publications, she has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944. She has published two children’s picture books, Letters from the Tooth Fairy and Turtle Crossing. She has also published The Falconer’s Apprentice, Alina: A Song for the Telling, The Amber Crane, and Tapestry of My Mother’s Life: Stories, Fragments, and Silences. She is currently working on a trilogy featuring Queen Adela of Normandy.

This one-on-one interview shares Malve von Hassell’s background and experience in writing The Amber Crane.

Tell us about The Amber Crane.

During a walk along a beach of the Baltic Sea, Peter, a young amber guild apprentice in Pomerania in the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds precious amber in a clump of seaweed. Despite the severe penalties imposed on all who gather amber without a permit, Peter keeps the amber and works on it in secret, with potentially disastrous consequences for people close to him.

Little does he know, the amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army. He learns that sometimes the consequences of one’s actions force one to make difficult choices.

What inspired you to write The Amber Crane?

The Amber Crane was inspired by three central themes.

One, since childhood, I have loved amber, a gemstone full of mystery and power. Amber is inextricably linked to the history of Pomerania, having occupied center stage in trade and politics over centuries. Much of this history and many physical reminders of it were erased after 1945, while the region was subject to Soviet occupation and became part of Poland. I wanted to present a compelling story for younger readers that can serve as a bridge to an unknown history.

The second inspiration emerged from the stories my mother used to tell me about her childhood home in Pomerania, close to the Baltic Sea, and stories of her experiences during World War II, including the last months and the evacuation from Pomerania and East Prussia.

Finally, I was intrigued by the notion of a form of time travel in reverse. Usually in time travel tales, individuals are sent back in time. I wondered what it would be like for an individual from the past to show up on our doorstep. Thus, the story of a young man from 1644-1645, living in the last years of the Thirty Years War in Pomerania emerged, and he came to experience life in the same location in 1944-1945. The linking element between the two time frames is a magical piece of amber that has the power to transport my protagonist three hundred years into the future.

How did your background and experience influence your writing?

I started out as an academic writer; hence, research has always been a part of my work. In the last decades, I have been fortunate enough to write works of fiction, in particular, historical fiction.

As a genre, it has always attracted me. It offers insights into the past, and thus lessons for the future. In my writing, I enjoy bringing history to life. I try to convey as much as possible the tactile feel of a period—from fabrics, to foods and scents, to writings, music, ways of thinking, and forms of interactions within a specific time period.

What is one message you would like readers to remember?

Experiences of war, suffering, and loss are overwhelming and powerful, and certainly, many people who have lived through World War II in this part of the world have retreated into silence about some of their experiences. At the same time, these same bitter, troubled periods have also given rise to enormous creativity, resilience, and humanity of those who have lived through them. Through this book, I wanted to bring to life a little-known piece of history, while showcasing the power of the human spirit to endure.

Purchasing the Book

The Amber Crane offers a rich contribution to literature of its kind. While fans of nonfiction will appreciate the reference to important objects, settings, and events in history, those who prefer the emotional substance of fiction will be intrigued by the unique reflections on war from two different time periods.

The Amber Crane is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, and other online bookstores. Readers are encouraged to purchase their copy today:

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