Thanks for stopping by! My name is Monica Viera and I'm an author who interviews different artists from around the world.
Shaping Perspective in Your Story
Many writers are motivated to get a memoir out because they have a story inside them that they wish to set free. It liberates them to share their dark times and perseverance because they know it can influence and even change the life of whoever is reading. This is certainly the case with Vivianne Knebel’s new book, From Rubble to Champagne. In her memoir, Vivianne discusses her childhood being raised in Berlin post-WWII and the struggles her family faced. She describes her difficult adolescence and even her lowest point – when she attempted to take her own life at just seventeen years old. Despite all of this, Vivianne has an incredibly positive outlook on life, and at 77 years old, is happier than ever. To learn more about how she used her experiences in life to cultivate and shape her memoir, read this interview I had with her.
Q & A With the Author
Q: Your book is a memoir, detailing your experience during a very uncertain time in history. Can you describe your childhood?
A: I was a lonely child and had many strikes against me. Being illegitimate, I felt I was looked down upon. Growing up without a father in war-torn Berlin, I faced constant hunger and cold. I was academically challenged in school, which was a constant frustration. I felt inferior to my beautiful sister and considered myself the ugly duckling. I had very low self-esteem.
Q: How did your upbringing shape your perspective on life?
A: I had a fiercely devoted mother who gave us an abundance of love. She taught us compassion and instilled in us a sense of beauty. As far back as I can remember, I had a desire to improve my station in life. Doing without much as a child made me appreciate the smallest of things in life.
Q: The book explores some deeply sobering moments from your life. Can you briefly describe the most challenging obstacle you overcame and how you did it?
A: After all the negative experiences, everything simply became too much and I spiraled into a deep depression and attempted to kill myself. I closed the garage door and turned on the motor. I heard somewhere that the carbon monoxide would render you unconscious and you would drift off to your ultimate end. Suddenly a little girl around six years of age appeared before me and asked what I was doing. I answered meekly I was going to wash my car. She must have come through a side door, which I was unaware of. I immediately turned off the motor and opened the garage door. I picked myself up and kept going. I saw a glimmer of hope and held onto it.
Q: How do you maintain such a positive outlook on life?
A: I would say gratitude. It unlocks the fullness of life. Overcoming the challenges in my life has given me the ultimate gift -- a profound sense of gratitude. I can say with my whole heart, my life is just beginning. As we age, there is an increasing energy to do something positive. I am now 77 years old and this is the most beautiful chapter of my life.
Q: What was your impetus for writing the book?
A: My answer is to help others that feel suppressed or defeated. I want them to know that life can get better. Life is not static -- it will change even if we don’t want it to. I want especially young people that cannot cope to understand that I feel for them! In their minds and hearts their pain is real. They deserve support and love. I want them to know there is always hope for a great future. Never give up hope!
Q: Who do you feel this book is primarily for?
A: I wrote this book as a gift for my husband’s 80th. birthday. It is an expression of gratitude to him for believing in me. For seeing potential in me that I did not know I had. For encouraging me to learn and grow and supporting me in all my endeavors. For being the wind beneath my wings, and always making me feel so loved.
Q: What do you hope readers will learn from your story?
A: We are going through a time of great uncertainty and many people are living in despair. I want to give people the message to never give up hope, to have a vision and stay focused, to have determination and persistence which is everything. Obstacles can be overcome! Become resilient. The beauty of resilience is that it can be acquired. You can train to become resilient. I have been through so much worse. If I can do it, everyone can.
Hopefully this interview gave you some clarity into the writing process of a memoir. You can learn more about Vivianne and her incredible life at her website by clicking here. If you’re interested in getting a copy of Vivianne’s book, click here.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 24, 2020:
This is a fascinating interview. You tease out just enough information from the author to intrigue readers and entice them to read the book.