Marion Leuther

About the role of women - An exciting Stone Age story by Marion Leuther

Western Europe around 40,000 years ago. The young Neanderthal woman Idigi waits in vain for the men of her clan to return. Hunger and cold force her to move south with the women and children of her tribe - a dangerous journey at the end of which she meets the feared modern humans.

An entertaining and instructive short story about a woman's willingness to accept the changes of her time is published under the title "Schneesöhne". In a conversation with the publisher, the author Marion Leuther explains what was important to her.

Stone Age story

Author interview with Marion Leuther

With your story “Snow Sons” you enter the historical terrain of a distant era in human history for the first time. How did you get the idea to study the Stone Age?

The Stone Age has always fascinated me. My main character, the young Neanderthal woman Idigi, was immediately present for me. I then looked intensively at the time in Western Europe, around 40,000 years ago, in which the story takes place - and that was really exciting! For a long time, Neanderthals were considered rude, simple-minded savages. Today we know that, on the contrary, they were intelligent, had a social structure and were excellently adapted to their environment. They devised hunting strategies, were able to light fires and made tools from bones, wood and stones. Without their skills, they would never have been able to survive in such an inhospitable area for hundreds of thousands of years.

In which thematic areas have you worked as a writer so far, and what do you see as the common thread in your work?

So far I've mainly dabbled in the “love” genre, but my writing interests were broad from the start: crime fiction, poetry, satire... I'm particularly interested in the characters. The characters have to captivate me. For me, the Neanderthal Idigi is a strong, clever woman who does everything to ensure the survival of her clan. She feels inner doubts, suffers painful losses, and fights against fear and insecurity. So she is very human, but her thoughts and feelings always remain in the context of her time.

What role does the main character Idigi and the women of her clan play after the men go missing?

The women and children are now completely on their own. Idigi knows that only the march south can save their lives. It takes enormous effort to persuade her clan to leave the familiar forest they have known all their lives.

In fact, my story is almost entirely about women: about their struggle for survival during the perilous journey in which they endure hunger, cold and attacks from predators. But these women are defensive: they make their own weapons, go hunting and protect their children.

Writer from Cologne

What is special about the time in which Idigi lives? Will Idigi manage to track down the men of her tribe alive?

The story takes place at a time that was experiencing difficult and threatening developments for Idigi and her clan. Around 40,000 years ago, the Cro-Magnon people advanced further and further into Europe and increasingly pushed the Neanderthals out of their area. At least that is one of the theories as to why the Neanderthals became extinct. This repression does not necessarily have to have occurred in a warlike manner. Perhaps the Cro-Magnon people were simply more dominant, more numerous and more advanced than the Neanderthals. Nevertheless, both species shared the same habitat for several thousand years, and their encounter will not have been smooth.

How important is this Neanderthal woman's willingness to adapt to the changes of her time, i.e. to engage in an encounter with modern Homo sapiens, to you?

The encounter between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons is an important turning point. Idigi must make a difficult decision: move on or join the tribe of modern humans. Both can mean death for you and your clan. But ultimately she has no choice. By getting involved with the Cro-Magnon people, Idigi accepts that her usual world has changed fundamentally - and that she must adapt to the new living conditions in order to survive.

The interview was conducted by Christian Leeck. Machine translated from German.
Wuppertal, January 2024.

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