The Mandarin Seeds

I’m delighted to welcome back friend and fellow author, Olga Swan, to tell us about an exciting new book.

Thank you, Miriam, for welcoming me onto your author blog.  It’s fitting really, because there’s a scene in my new novel where my character’s father is transported to Jerusalem, where you live.

Several months ago, I was watching a TV documentary, which spoke of an unsung hero from WWII. I did some research and discovered that he’d saved 20,000 Jewish citizens of Vienna between 1938 and 1940. His name was Ho Feng Shan, and he never told a soul – not even his family – what he’d done. He died in 1997, and was awarded the posthumous  ‘Righteous Amongst the Nations’ honour by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. But I was determined to make this Chinese ‘Schindler’ more widely known, so began writing. 

I’m now excited to tell your readers about my new novel, which has just been published. It’s called The Mandarin Seeds. Here’s what it’s about:

In 1935 Vienna, the demi-monde enjoy the delights of the Grunberger patisserie. Eva and boyfriend Michael love dancing in the illicit American jazz clubs, but Nazi terror is rising. For Michael, there is an added anxiety over his previous liaison with mercurial showgirl, Marta. Soon, the desperate situation for the Jewish civilians of Vienna forces them to try to leave, but where can they go?

Step forward an unlikely Chinese hero who miraculously helps them obtain visas for Shanghai.

As showgirl Marta seduces local businessman Sassoon, what will happen to shy Eva in Shanghai?

And what has happened to brave Michael, left behind in Nazi controlled Vienna?

Cross continents to an electrifying and surprising ending in post-war San Francisco.

Buy link (paperback and ebook)

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For Olga’s previous books (fiction and non-fiction), go to her blog and click on each book image.

Books Israel

The Journey of a Stone

This post is about a new novel. It’s one that covers four thousand years and follows a stone on its travels close to home and then further afield. I was lucky enough to read a draft, about which I made suggestions that have been incorporated by its author, Olga Swan (pen-name). I look forward to reading the final version, which has just been published as The Meleke Stone.

Here’s the author herself to tell you about it.

Thank you so much, Miriam, for allowing me on your blog. I’ve been working towards The Meleke Stone all my life. Included are all the times, and perpetrators, from 1900 BCE to the present when the Jewish people were ousted from their land. It’s a novel with a strong underlying message. Here’s the blurb:

“A meleke stone from the ancient plains of the Dead Sea is passed down by generations of females through four thousand years.  

In 2019 Sami, the son of Egyptian immigrants in Toulouse, is traumatised by the family’s hardships in France and plots revenge.  

Menes, Sami’s father from Cairo, had emigrated to France in search of peace. An unlikely friendship forms with Holocaust-survivor Moshe, each recognising their past struggles.

Suddenly, a terrorist bomb explodes in a Toulouse synagogue. Moshe asks his son, Simon, to produce a film showing the true history of his people from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.  

What will happen to Moshe’s and Menes’ special relationship when an intrepid French detective’s efforts to find the terrorist reveal the horrifying truth? 

In a soul-searching conclusion in Jerusalem, having no female descendant to whom to give the meleke stone, there’s only one thing that Simon can do to maintain the survival of his people for all eternity. 

…..are you ready for the four thousand year journey of the meleke stone?”

Follow the story as it moves between Toulouse, Warsaw, Cairo and through to Jerusalem. Read the historical truths about Sodom and Gomorrah, the Maccabees and what happened during the Six-Day War in the Sinai.  But above all, recognise the lifelong friendship between a Jewish man and an Egyptian Muslim. Enjoy!

About the Author

Olga Swan has a B.A. Hons. (Open) in English language and literature.  For many years she worked at The University of Birmingham, following which she spent twelve years living in S.W. France before returning to Birmingham in 2017.  She has had 7 books (3 non-fiction) published by indie publisher Crooked Cat Books, which has now closed. Three of Olga’s works are narrative non-fiction, one of which (Pensioners in Paradis) is approaching one million pages read and is already a four-times international best-seller.  A second edition of this and of An Englishwoman in America have now been reprinted. Three novels form a series set in wartime Germany, France and Poland. Dunoon Assassin  moves between NY, Dunoon and Amritsar.

Olga has been writing her blog every Sunday for 13 years with hundreds of regular readers each week from around the world.

She can also be found on her Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linktree.

Books Interviews

Divided by a Common Language

A huge welcome to the author Olga Swan, whose new book, An Englishwoman in America, is about to be published.

Hi Miriam!  I’m honoured to be invited onto your esteemed blog. Love its biblical title, btw.

Olga Swan, authorHello, Olga. I know that’s not your real name. Can you tell us why you chose to have a pen name and why you chose that one?

As some of your readers may already know, I lost my parents 50 years ago, swiftly followed by my two elder brothers. So, as a mark of remembrance I write under the nom de plume of Olga Swan, it being an anagram of my late brother A Olswang. In this way, as the last member of the family born with this name, I’m keeping them and our unusual name alive.

I didn’t know all of that. That must have been very hard for you.

You’re a very prolific author. How do you find time to write so many books?

I’ve now written 10 books in total (see below) but spanning many years. The first (Lamplight),  I wrote about 50 years ago. I remember brother Alan typing it from my hand-written notes onto his portable, manual typewriter. Today, now I’m retired, I can escape into our new, tiny conservatory and take as long as I want for my thoughts to flow. I find the extra light from the glass roof helps cure my SAD too.

I’m assuming that’s seasonal affective disorder and not social anxiety disorder!

You recently returned to the UK after living in France, and you wrote about that period of your life in two wonderful and humorous books: Pensioners in Paradis and From Paradis to Perdition. What experiences form the basis for your new book, An Englishwoman in America?

Thank you for your kind comments about my French books. As these have proven successful, I wanted to continue the non-fiction, comedy element but in a new guise. Of particular interest to your Israeli readers, I also wanted to write about the huge Yiddish influences in my life (my grandmother spoke it fluently), so there are chapters about Yiddish theatre in early NY plus its influence on both American and British comedy over the years.

My father spoke Yiddish well and my mother understood it, but they never spoke Yiddish at home, so I didn’t learn it. However, I would be very interested to read about the influence of Yiddish theatre on American and British comedy.

An Englishwoman in America is a humorous look at how the British and the Americans view each other. The cover image gives a snapshot of what lies within. My inspiration for writing it dates back to when I was growing up in the ’50s.  I couldn’t understand why four of us (my mother, 2 brothers and myself) were all shy and introverted, yet my father was loud, extrovert and so large as life in everything he did. Eventually I understood. He’d lived a considerable time in America. Should I then follow his lead and move to America? Would that make me more outgoing?  The book required lots of research:  from immigration tomes to other works in the genre to personal holiday diaries and precious travel memoirs from my father to internet sources.

An Englishwoman in America by Olga Swan

What are you writing now?

I don’t have a wip [work in progress] at the moment whilst I catch my breath in the lead up to the release of An Englishwoman in America on 11 June, but there’s a possibility I can follow up with further books in the series, each entitled An Englishwoman in…..

Your weekly posts on your blog — Brexed, Bothered and Bewildered (a lovely alliterative name) — are always short and to the point, and they make a lot of sense. Can you sum up what you think is wrong with the world and what we can do to make it a better place?

 Too many people spout opinions of others based on historic falsehoods, which are then perpetuated. The answer has to be more understanding and education about each other. Schools all over the world should introduce mandatory classes where different peoples, their history and faiths are studied, examined and discussed. Also, as a writer, we have an additional role to play in furthering these aims. Education, from whatever source, is the key lest past atrocities like the holocaust are doomed to happen again and again.

Oh yes, I agree with that! Education, from whatever source, except for sources that plant falsehoods, of course.

And finally, what can we expect from your launch party on 11th June?

All day on Tuesday 11 June (also on the 12th) everyone’s invited to my online FB launch party. On the day simply click this link. Then under Discussion, say hi and enjoy guest author spots (I’m looking forward to yours, Miriam), entertainment, read exclusive excerpts from the book, and enter 2 free quizzes about American cars and music to win a prize. Easy. Looking forward to welcoming you all on the 11th. Pre-order your ebook now or buy the paperback from Amazon.

I’m looking forward to it.

 Olga Swan books published by Crooked Cat Books

Olga Swan books published by KDP Amazon

Gillian Green books published by

  • Ruby
  • Clementine
  • Saffron
Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: David Klein

Letters from Elsewhere

Hindsight leads me to think that today’s guest is either exceptionally brave or plain stupid. But it’s only 1940. David Klein doesn’t know what we know today.

Letter from David Klein – war journalist – to Adolf Hitler 1940
(translated from the original German to English)

Lieber Herr Hitler!

I understand that the racial policy of Nazi Germany is based on a specific racist doctrine asserting the superiority of the Aryan race, based on scientific legitimacy.

I am very keen to know, Herr Hitler:  did you ever study Genealogy?

Having recently returned from Germany, I am very interested in your family background.  I understand that your father, Alois, was born in 1837 but was registered as an illegitimate child with no father’s name listed. I know that your grandmother, Maria Schicklgruber (‘sump digger’ in English), worked in the home of a wealthy Jewish family, so could it be that a son in that household got your grandmother pregnant?

In case you didn’t see it in 1933, the London Daily Mirror published a picture of a gravestone in a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest inscribed with some Hebrew characters and the name Hitler. Now I come to think of it, you must have heard this story because clearly you were worried enough to change the Nazi law defining Jewishness to exclude Jesus Christ and yourself! Re the former: you obviously didn’t want to alienate the good Christian society by even suggesting that their Lord could have been ‘tainted’ in any way by not being of Aryan descent. Was Jesus Christ then not born Jewish? What of Joseph and Mary, his parents? 

This leads me to ask: if Christ’s birth-religion is denied in Nazi law, what of your own? Since returning to England, I have attempted to study your Nazi law on this very topic but am confused. According to your rules, who exactly is defined as a Jew? Just the other day I read in a Nazi paper that anything from full Jewish background to 18 Jewish blood defines a Jew;  other German papers, apparently in total panic, urged 116 Jewish blood. Finally, I read that the decision was made for three or four Jewish grandparents to define Jewishness; two or one rendered a person a Mischlinge (someone with both Aryan and Jewish blood.)  Can I repeat that Herr Hitler?  One Jewish grandparent renders a person a Mischlinge.  When will you, yourself, then, be reporting for the next train to the nearest ghetto or concentration camp?

Yours most sincerely,

David Klein

LamplightNote from Olga Swan, May 2016

In 2010, the British paper The Daily Telegraph reported that a study had been conducted in which saliva samples were collected from 39 of Hitler’s known relatives to test their DNA origins and found that Hitler may have had Jewish origins. The paper reported: “A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in [the Hitler] samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews … Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.

About Olga Swan’s books

VichyssoiseVichyssoise – Book 2 in the David Klein war-reporter series, set in Vichy France, now available to buy from wherever you live:

Lamplight – Book 1 in the David Klein war-reporter series – now available to buy from wherever you live:

3rd Degree Murder available to buy:

Or check out Olga’s amazon page:

Also, check out Gillian’s amazon page for her children’s literature. A great gift for them:

Read her weekly Sunday blog about life in France, and her occasional Wednesday blog about international writing:



While I’m away…

I’m taking a short break from the blog. While I’m away:

  • There will be no Letters from Elsewhere this Friday, but the popular series will be back the following Friday.
  • I have a post coming up on Angela Wren’s blog today and other guest posts are planned for a month or so hence.
  • OlgaSwan - LamplightLamplight by Olga Swan is being published by Crooked Cat this Thursday. Lamplight is a thriller – book 1 in the David Klein series. David Klein is eighteen when he runs away from the poverty and orthodoxy of his Jewish home in Birmingham, England, for the bright lights and opportunities of New York. But trouble is in store.

    From the anguish and terror of nearly drowning at sea, the story moves between New York, Birmingham and eventually to Breslau in Germany where, when working as a war reporter, he meets Karin. Together, they live through the burgeoning terror of Nazi Germany in 1938.

    You’re invited to join the launch party on Facebook. And the ebook is available now for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Baby with rattlePlay nicely while I’m away and I’ll reveal all on my return.

Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Jenny Mazowski

Letters from ElsewhereMy visitor today must be rather clever. Despite being a character in a novel, she knows about two other novels about to be released. I suspect a certain Olga Swan had a hand in this!

Here’s Jenny’s letter, dated 1986.


To:  Naomi Klein

From: Jenny Mazowski

Dear Naomi,

OlgaSwan - 3rdDegreeMurderHaven’t heard from you in ages. So much to tell you.  You know I got that secretary job at my local university?  Well, it’s been mind blowing. I work for this terrible professor. His name’s Axel Sloan and I’d like to take an axe to him myself. He’s really anti-semitic. You’ll never believe this but last week he actually asked me whether circumcised men were better in bed?  Honestly!  I didn’t know where to put myself.  And then there’s a PhD student from Bangladesh in our department who alleges she was actually raped by him right in his office here!  I know.  She’s such a lovely girl, too. We get on really well together. I remember last Xmas when we giggled together over whether we should send each other a Xmas card or not, like the rest of the department. Well, we both agreed. Enough’s enough. We’re gonna make a formal complaint to the V-C against Prof. Sloan. Trouble is I don’t like the V-C either. There’s something about the way he looks at the male students that’s a bit odd. Anyway I’ll let you know what happens.

OlgaSwan - LamplightSo, what about you? Has your cousin started writing that story about the Klein family history yet? I guess it’ll take a long time to write. Wasn’t there someone called David Klein in your family who got involved in Nazi Germany during the war? And, didn’t he even parachute in to Vichy France too? Wow!  Hope the story doesn’t take too long to finish as I’d really love to find out what happened. Sounds amazing. Let’s hope your cousin finds one of those lovely boutique publishing houses that are springing up everywhere now. I’m sure they’d jump at the chance to publish it. What was the title again? Lamplight! Yes, that’s it. Gives a real war-time feel to it. Maybe the Vichy bit should be a second novel. A good title for that one would be Vichyssoise – you know, like the chilled, green soup they have in France. Can’t wait to read them.

OlgaSwan - Vichyssoise



Must dash. Prof. Sloan is back any minute from lunch and I haven’t finished his grant application yet. If not, there’ll be 3rd Degree Murder for sure!


Jenny x






3rd Degree Murder, a university intrigue by Olga Swan, is available here.

Lamplight – Book 1 in the David Klein war reporter series – is due to be released in February 2016.

Vichyssoise – Book 2 in the David Klein series – is due to be released in May 2016.

Read Olga Swan’s weekly, Sunday blog about life as an expat in France.