World War II. During the attacks on Berlin in the winter of 1943-44, wave after wave of British bombers swept over northern Europe and dropped their lethal loads on the German capital. A fair percentage of the bombers would fail to return from these operations, and RAF planners calculated the life expectancy of the airmen in weeks rather than months.
Therefore it did not seem strange when a Lancaster named D-Daisy landed at its base in England after a bombing run, and a member of the crew was found dead.
However, one person soon came to the conclusion that this man had been murdered. And the person who discovered this happened to be blind since birth. Her name was Daisy and she was the victim’s wife. She was very blonde and very pretty; also very young. Therefore, no one would listen to her. So she was going to have to find the murderer on her own.
Nick Aaron is Dutch, but he was born in South Africa, where he attended a British-style boarding school, in Pietersburg, Transvaal. Later he lived in Lausanne (Switzerland), in Rotterdam, Luxembourg and Louvain. Currently he works for the European Parliament in Brussels, proofreading legislative texts in all 24 official languages.
At twelve years of age, Nick Aaron started writing poetry in French. This was in Lausanne in the ’60s. He wrote four poems about the seasons, a rather unoriginal theme, were it not that he had recently moved from South Africa and that the concept of four seasons was completely new to him. And the French language of course. At any rate, his teacher was impressed and asked him to recite one of his four poems in front of the whole class. After this first literary triumph, the writing bug never left the poor boy. Half a lifetime later, one could argue that if Malcolm Gladwell is right that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field, then at least Nick Aaron has put in the required number of hours.
Recently, after writing in Dutch and French for many years, the author went back to the language of his mid-century South African childhood. A potential global readership was the incentive; the trigger was the character of Daisy Hayes, who asserted herself in his mind wholly formed. He explains: “When I was a kid, you had these clockwork toys with a big key in the back. You wound up the spring inside and the toy would start performing its tricks relentlessly. That is how Daisy just sprang to life in my head. I wrote like mad and could hardly keep up with her. It was like when you’ve had an exciting dream at night; you wake up and you have to keep reeling in the thread of the story or you’ll lose it for good. The first draft of the first novel was completed in just three months. And I had a full-time job to take care of as well. After that, as always, much of the real writing work still had to begin…”
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