A Lisburn author has got the seal of approval from Angela Merkel for his debut novel which is set in the area where the German chancellor spent her childhood.
Terry Hickland began writing crime thriller ‘On Marian Place’ in 2011 having returned to Northern Ireland after his career in haulage took him to Germany where he lived for many years.
“To this day I’m a fluent German speaker,” he said. “If I’m speaking to a German, unless I tell them I’m from Northern Ireland they take me as German because I speak with a south German accent.”
The 60-year-old added: “When you’re writing a book people say write about what you know. I have lived in many different parts of Germany, I am also very interested in World War Two conflicts.”
‘On Marian Place’ is set in post-unified Germany and its main protagonist is a detective on the trail of Nazi gold.
Terry said: “When I lived in Germany I worked with German World War Two veterans and learnt so many different things.
“One of the towns where I lived was a massive munitions dump during World War Two. They’re continually digging up unexploded bombs throughout Germany.
“Through in-laws of my brother, who married in Germany, I spoke to someone who was on the Russian front. I got a lot of information close to the wire plus a lot of research.
“People have reviewed the book, went through it with a fine-tooth comb and commended its accuracy.”
Explaining how the book led to him crossing paths with Angela Merkel he said: “Writing a period historical novel requires a lot of research for the product to be authentic enough for the reader to believe in it and to buy into the plot.
“The story begins north of Berlin, at a hotel situated on the shores of Großdöllner See, in the district of New Brandenburg. It was during this time that I discovered the chancellor had grown up in the area with her family.
“I sent her a letter of appreciation for her service as a politician, along with a copy of my book for her and her husband to read on her retirement.
“Just before Christmas, I received a letter of thanks from her office.
“She had asked her secretary to write to me and thank me very much for the kind words within the letter and the beautiful book that I had sent her.”
Terry worked as a heavy vehicle mechanic in the haulage industry for 25 years before going back into education.
Having graduated from University of Ulster, he is currently a lecturer at South Eastern Regional College.
Terry is married to Jacqueline and they have one son, Frasier, 21, who studies piano in Dublin and has played for Prince Charles.