INTERVIEW WITH KATRIN SCHUMANN

THE FORGOTTEN HOURS by Katrin Schumann delves into a timely subject. It is a thought-provoking story about a woman’s search for the haunting truth regarding her best friend and father. The main character Katie wanted to believe that her father was perfect, that he was the same person she knew and loved.  But once he was accused of statutory rape she had to reconcile if her father was being honest with her. As she searched for facts that would give her answers, Katie wondered does she forgive, ignore, or cut off ties. 

Ten years ago, when Katie was fifteen her teenage best friend Lulu accused her dad of rape.  Because there was an age difference of about thirty years he was sent off to prison for nine years. Katie was loyal to her father and never questioned his innocence. Now, with her dad’s release date approaching she must come to grips with what really happened, after being hounded by reporters and knowing she could no longer keep her boyfriend in the dark. To make matters worse she must return to the Eagle Lake cabin where the incident occurred.  While there she discovers letters about the trial that provoke in her questions about her father’s innocence and her own memory of what happened. 

This story is a page-turner that also speaks to broader questions of sexual abuse, family loyalty, and the uncertainty of memory. Interestingly, throughout the novel Schumann has readers questioning who is the predator, the accused or the accuser. The plot’s themes are all the more powerful in today’s current environment.

Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?

It is impossible to determine what the truth really is.  We bring with it our own experiences, memories, and opinions. We cannot judge things completely or dispassionately.  Can we really look at facts without seeing them through the prism of our feelings? I think the answer is no.  Can someone be good and bad at the same time? This is what my character Katie is struggling with, experiencing the pain of questioning what happened.  She realizes that she cannot rely on her memory.

Katrin Schumann:  From the time I was a little girl I have been an immensely loyal friend, a trait I valued highly.  As an adult, I realized that loyalty isn’t always good and can be misplaced.  It is really hard to see different perspectives. 

EC: Was this story based on anything personal?

KS:  A few years ago I had two friends, almost at the same time, involved in a really nasty and complicated law case about consent.  The cases were not related.  I had this front row seat about the experiences of the accused and accuser.  I felt pulled along in the emotional tide, and realized that people who love them are also victims.

EC: You seem to present both sides?

KS:  I did not want to commit to one side or the other or jump to conclusions.  There are so many grey areas.  At the time of writing this there was the Jerry Sandusky case. I saw on television, the harrowing look of his wife and a comment she made struck me, “This is not the man I know.”  It is disorienting to think we do not know who people really are.

EC: What is the role of memory?

KS:  It is impossible to determine what the truth really is.  We bring with it our own experiences, memories, and opinions. We cannot judge things completely or dispassionately.  Can we really look at facts without seeing them through the prism of our feelings? I think the answer is no.  Can someone be good and bad at the same time? This is what my character Katie is struggling with, experiencing the pain of questioning what happened.  She realizes that she cannot rely on her memory. 

EC: How would you describe Katie’s experience?

KS:  As a grown woman she realizes desire is multi-faceted, but must be controlled.  Feeling desire can be a healthy thing, but Katie no longer trusts her gut feelings. She must realize what she has with her boyfriend Zev is a trusting and natural feeling.  I think that women do have to make it clear about what they want and expect. She is an observer who does want a healthy relationship.  In the end, she does take back control, and becomes comfortable in her own two shoes.

EC: How would you describe Lulu?

KS:  She is larger than life, full of energy and desire.  She wants to experience life fully.  She sometimes sends mixed messages because she wants to be loved and accepted.  

EC: How would you describe the father, Gregory?

KS:  The kind of man who wants what he wants and cannot see things from other people’s perspectives.  He should not have acted on any message sent by Lulu since he was the adult.  He cannot see his own behavior in an objective way.  In my mind, he is a man who has not fully matured.  He can be a loving, caring, and generous father, but also a narcissist, selfish, and incapable of taking responsibility.

EC: He had a major drinking problem?

KS:Katie did not really see it. Slowly she had her eyes opened and realized he is drinking a lot, which impacts his behavior.  

EC: Anything else you would like to add?

KS:The mother is a victim of circumstance and could not dig herself out of the hole.  I hope readers feel empathy for her character.

THANK YOU!!