BERLIN

BERLIN

Firstly, let me tell you three days is not enough time to visit this city. That’s all the time I had. I managed to see what I needed too but it was exhausting. ‘The Circle of Sappho’, published later this year, is set in Berlin in the Cold War.

Julia Mansfield is the wife of the British Minister of Defence. When she accompanies her husband to a NATO conference, Julia encounters the stunningly beautiful Nadia.

Julia laughed softly and kissed her on the lips. “You taste of me.” Her voice hardened with desire. She couldn’t repress the shudder that ran through her body. “I want to fuck you.”

Nadia’s breathing increased and her eyes narrowed. “Yes, I want you to.”

A week after Julia returns home, an envelope arrives containing explicit photographs.

The next photo looked as if it had been enlarged. A zoomed lens had captured Nadia between her legs. Julia’s back had left the bed, her left hand with her wedding band clearly on view held Nadia’s head in place. She shook her head in wonder at her naivety. What a fool she had been!

Julia must make a choice. Play the game and betray her country or lose her marriage.

Nikki Sinclair and Dvora Bar Zahavi are reunited in this thrilling, lesbian spy thriller set in Berlin and Warsaw.

I needed to explore Alexanderplatz and the surrounding areas for the locations in my book. I took a tram to the suburbs to visit the Stasi Prison. This bleak place is set in the middle of a complex of apartment buildings. Only the Stasi police, officers and their families were permitted to live there. It was so secret that it wasn’t marked on the map of East Berlin. I stood in a cell, wondering how I’d feel if I were locked inside.

 In ‘The Circle Of Sappho’ I describe the terror Nadia feels when Colonel Schulz imprisoners her in the Hohenschonhausen (the Stasi prison).

Onwards to the Stasi Museum. During the Cold War over 7,000 full time employees of the East German Security Police worked there, micro managing the lives of citizens which is depicted in the movie ‘The Lives of Others.’

It’s a vast complex. The actual museum is located at House 1 where the infamous Erich Mielke, the East German Minister for State Security had an office. You can see Mielke’s office with the three telephones sitting on his desk. He had a direct line to the Kremlin which was supposed to be untappable. You can easily imagine what devious plans and schemes Mielke devised during the Cold War.

On display are several devices the Stasi used to entrap unsuspecting citizens. A camera concealed in shoulder bag with an infrared camera which took photos at night. Secret cameras were concealed in the clasp of handbag, wallets and on tie pins. Cameras were secreted in the bases of watering cans, water butts and even a bird box!

Back to the Hotel Aldon for a slice of coffee cake and a glass of almond coffee. Fans of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther will recognise the location. The hotel is located next to the amazing Brandenburg Gate.

For me, the highlight of my brief stay was Brendon Nash’s walk through Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin. Brendon is an English guy, who has made his home there. His knowledge of the lesbian and gay scene during the Weimer Republic is incredible.

Did you know that over 85,000 lesbians lived in Berlin in the 1920’s? One street was full of lesbian only bars, which catered for all tastes, even pipe smokers!

Isherwood wrote about the area and his experiences in ‘Mr Norris Changes Trains’. He witnessed the Nazi book burning, the rise of the Nazi party and the decline of the Republic. A few years later the bars closed. The patrons were arrested, taken to concentration camps and made to wear the Pink Triangle. Not many lived beyond six weeks, forced labour and brutal conditions took their toll and some were beaten to death.

Lezability factor – very good. Gay pride is held annually. Areas of the city are very lesbian friendly especially Kreuzberg and Neukolln (where I’ll be staying in June).  Follow my blog for updates!

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