Friday, February 02, 2018

Writing Novels about the Thirty Years War, a guest post by Laura Libricz, author of the Heaven's Pond trilogy

Over the years, I've often been asked for recommendations of novels set during the Thirty Years War (1618-48). They're relatively few and far between, and so I was glad to learn about Laura Libricz's series set in Germany during that time. I'm happy to present her guest post focusing on her experience writing her Heaven's Pond trilogy. The second and latest book, The Soldier's Return, was published in pb and ebook in September.


Writing Novels about the Thirty Years War
Laura Libricz

The Thirty Years War started as a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics but ultimately evolved into a broader, bloodier political conflict that included England, Spain and France. The marks left by the war are still evident today in certain parts of Germany. The list of academic analyses, in-depth historical compilations, local research and autobiographies is long, and there are some great references available. I’ve read many in both English and German and appreciate the research and the passion historians have invested in their work, sharing their findings and helping us to understand this many-faceted period. But novels set in Germany during the Thirty Years War, written in the English language, are hard to find. I wanted to read a novel that would really capture the mood of the era, look into the people involved, people like you and me.

My love of German literature began in university when I was looking for any excuse not to go to the computer room and work on code. It was a guilty pleasure that eventually turned into my major. My professor told me not to worry about the career, just to concentrate on what I loved to do. I loved to read German literature, to wrestle with the English translations and to write my own original verse and essays in both English and German.

After I finished university, I went to Germany to spend the summer with my brother, to work and master the language. I was amazed to see the scope of the scars left by the Thirty Years War on the Franconian area I live in. The next town over, a bus stop is named Schwedenschanze in the spot where the Swedes were entrenched during the war. In many cities, you will find streets named after famous generals: Pappenheimer Strasse, Mansfeldstrasse. Streets, churches and schools are named after the Swedish King, Gustav II Adolph. Almost every historical landmark had been burnt to the ground during the war. Now, twenty-seven years later, I am preparing to leave the country that was my home for close to half my life. As a tribute to these years, I present to you my trilogy, Heaven’s Pond.

The Master and the Maid is the first book in the series and begins the story in 1616. It’s about a young woman who loses her home, her job and her freedom. Katarina is a 24-year-old barmaid from Nuremberg. When her fiancĂ© trades her to the patrician Sebald Tucher in order to pay his debts, she is forced to relocate to the Sichardtshof farm, the Tucher country domicile. She meets a crazed archer who foists the care of a mysterious newborn child on her, involving her in a family feud fueled by religious differences.

The Soldier’s Return is the second novel in the series. The year is 1626, and mercenary soldiers terrorize the countryside. The war has stormed through Franconia for the past eight years. Witch hunts are raging through the south of Germany as well. Katarina, Sebald Tucher, and the rest of their makeshift family at the farm are now ten years older and war-weary. Can these unlikely companions fight together to survive?

The third book, Ash and Rubble, is in the early revision stages. The year is 1632 and the Protestant city of Nuremberg is besieged by the estimated 150,000-man-strong Swedish army comprised of soldiers and camp followers, under the command of the Swedish king, Gustav II Adolf. The opposing Imperial forces, under the command of General Wallenstein, make camp nearby with similar numbers. A deadly standoff ensues. The child of the first two books, Isabeau, is now 16 and living in Nuremberg with Katarina and Sebald Tucher. Can they escape the besieged city? How can they even make the decision to stay or go? This is the series climax.

The Sichardtshof Farm, the main setting of the novel, was a real farm owned by the Nuremberger patrician Sebald Tucher. The character of Sebald Tucher in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy is loosely based on him. I fashioned him to be a man of the times: enlightened, embracing the philosophies of the age, a modern man open to new discoveries and concepts.

The main character, Katarina, embodies what is missing from all the research I do: the female voice. Lost, because few female voices remain. This is where the expert empathy of the historical novelist is put to the test. Can I give her that voice? She must grapple with issues that I am passionate about: motherhood vs. womanhood, the art of forgiveness, different types of love, the illusion of freedom. What sacrifices do we make to save others? These issues are timeless: owning one’s true desires, the sneaky nature of addiction, the role women play in war as human spoils.

A screen adaptation in collaboration with the Blue Heron Book Works is also in the works.

For more information, please visit:  If you’d like to read more about my inspiration and research, please refer to previous articles published on some of your favorite blogs:

Hoydens and Firebrands, Reconstructing the Thirty Years War
History, The Interesting Bits, Bamberg and the Witch Hunts
Cryssa Bazos, The Thirty Years War
Mary Anne Yarde, Author’s Inspirations, The Master and the Maid
Mary Anne Yarde, Author’s Inspirations, The Soldier’s Return
Dirty, Sexy History, Masters and Maids
Blue Stocking Belles, The Master and his Wife
The Maiden’s Court, The Thirty Years War


About the Author

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

For more information, please visit Laura Libricz’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting today, Sarah. I'm really glad I was able to contribute to your blog!

    1. Hi Laura, thanks very much for your post, and I'll look forward to hearing more about the screen adaptation - that's excellent!