"Lepra ist eine wunderbare Metapher"

This is a JPEG of an article written about Martin of Gfenn and published in a Swiss paper in 2005 after I went to Zurich to meet Rainer Hugener, a young Swiss Medievalist, who grew up in the very area where my novel is set. I found him online, introduced myself, he read my book (which at that time was twice as long and half as good) and loved it.

I decided to spend Spring Break in Zurich so I could really talk to Rainer and see everything again since I hadn't been in Zurich in 8 years. He met me at St. Peter's Church with a 13th century map of Zurich. The map was really a time machine! We went all around the old city, locating the places in my novel. I learned of St. Martins Augustine Canons Cloister on top of the Zurichberg -- long gone, nothing left but ruins and archeologists drawings. Rainer thought Martin should grow up there. We walked over the mountain (hill, large, large hill) down the other side, basically walking a route Martin walks in the novel, and we went to Gfenn on foot.

It was a truly great day. It ended with Rainer and his girlfriend, who made us fondue, champagne and tiramisu for dinner! That was when I learned that I am a "Swiss Medievalist Historian."

Rainer wrote this article for the local paper about my book and about my visit.

The opening is a translation of a section of the book (near the end). The rest of the article is about me, how I first came to Gfenn, how I became inspired to write and what I do for a job. It discusses the medieval view of leprosy -- which was, for the most part, NOT what we believe it to be. Leprosy was viewed by many as a blessing from God for two reasons. 1) It allowed others the chance to find salvation by showing compassion to the leper. 2) Since those who had leprosy were considered to be "dead" they were already on their way to Heaven, doing penance before they died.

I have two other novels -- one nearly finished -- that spin off this book. I joked around with Rainer about starting a "leper genre" and he has written about that in this piece.

The protagonist of my novel also likes bratwurst, which Rainer has mentioned in the article. On our time-travel jaunt around Zurich, we honored Martin's food preferences by stopping at the best place for bratwurst in Zurich, Sternen, where you can get a bratwurst, a roll, a beer or, (if you are me) a Rivella Rot.

We were joking around about how people might read the novel in the future and ascribe all kinds of symbolism to, uh, sausages. I said, "Well, sometimes a bratwurst is just a bratwurst!" and Rainer has used that line as a heading for a section in which he discusses the accuracy of my research. He writes about how I cannot really read German, but I managed to work out -- word by word -- the contents of many of the sources I used.

It was a great day -- and yesterday I was so happy to find this article (saved in an arcane folder of my computer) that I thought I had lost! If you click on the images, they will be large enough to read.

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