Well, don’t I wish…
Sigmaringen is a small town in the southwestern German state or land of Baden-Wurttemberg. It’s a quiet and quaint wee spot that I first visited in 1984, returning a decade later, and then three years after that and several more times thereafter. Anyone who wishes can check it out on Wikipedia, only don’t believe any of the stuff about the Vichy regime there, or Celine’s book Castle to Castle*. The photo is nice.
Originally I went to Sigmaringen because of Celine. This writer’s hallucinatory style made me want to see the real deal. As the town was not bombed during the war much of what the writer saw and in his way described is still there, if not exactly the same. For a while I toyed with the idea of writing a comic novel about the place but in the end used it as an ironic site for my second novel, Evilheart, wherein there were two castles too, just like Celine’s book. In my case the second was the castle in Edinburgh that dominates the Scottish capital.
I like that book and you, dear reader, are welcome to like it too. After I finished I decided that I would set a number of my books there, wholly or partly, and these now make up a reasonable number: as well as Evilheart, The Kleiber Monster, Tobi’s Game, Savonarola’s Bones, Kaos, and now, when it appears, Attila’s Angels. Demented doesn’t manage to find a spot there and neither does The Russian Idea.
What I like about Sigmaringen for writing is that it isn’t much of a tourist town, especially for English speakers. The first few times I was there only a French tourist brochure was available. Yet it is pretty nice. It’s got romance by definition. Not only that, the countryside surrounding it is very pretty. And not only THAT, Beuron, a hamlet in the Danube valley upriver from Sigmaringen, is bizarre as well as nice, a home for “Beuroner kunst”, a religious art school contemporary with but apparently unconnected to, pre-Raphaelism. For English speakers this too is unknown.
So the place(s) give my locales a fun history/mystery basis and also something for a wee town that has been mostly nice to me. I think if my books one day take off, readers will walk the streets seeking the same sites I sought…Yo! I’d like that.
*Celine’s book did not chart the fall of the Vichy regime but the time leading up to it. He did not flee there but to Berlin seeking a visa to Denmark, and was sent there by the German authorities to be the Vichy doctor. Later, he managed to make it to Copenhagen. His book is not a history. Wikipedia is great but not always on the money.