Listening to her grandfather’s stories from World War II and travelling around as a lesbian woman, all her experiences translated into writing ‘A Map of Scars’, which tells the tale of a queer woman and her struggles during World War II.
The novel got its title thanks to Sammut’s philosophy. “Everyone goes through life and creates their own map, with both memories and scars.”
The book is all about Georgina Parker – George, for short – who can be seen as Sammut’s alter ego. The character is based on Georgina in ‘The Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton, an English author whose books Sammut used to devour.
“I identify with the protagonist, there are a few of my personal experiences in the book,” Sammut said. Just like Georgina, she travelled to England and France. Having spent 17 years of her life in London, she had a “wonderful life experiencing all the gay clubs”.
The story starts off in Valleta’s Strada Stretta in 1939. Back then, “it was choc-a-bloc with transvestites. Lots of sailors would come in, drink with the girls, and pick up the very good-looking transvestites.”
George finds out she’s quite different from the transvestites, as she’s a woman dressing up in men’s clothes.
Then, the catalyst of the story: an incident changes her life around. She sets off to England, France and Poland during the Second World War.
Having travelled her fair share herself, Sammut says she’s visited all corners of the world – but home will always have her heart. “Malta is so wonderful, inclusive and permissive… I don’t think I’ll ever experience as good as this island. Except the Netherlands, of course!”
Her inspiration stems from the hours she spent listening to her grandfathers, telling stories about World War II. “I became obsessed with it, researching why it happened and what had caused it.”
When she found out she was gay, she learnt about what happened to the queers during the war. “That’s why I wrote this fictional story. Not to romanticise the war, but to highlight what people went through. The gays are not much spoken about.”
‘A Map of Scars’ is the first part of a trilogy, and part two will be released in 2023, when Malta hosts EuroPride. Local director Ivan Scicluna even started working on the script for a film of the first book, so stay tuned for that!
The cover is a David’s star, referring to the prosecution of the queers during the war, consisting of two differently coloured triangles. The pink triangle represents male homosexuals, whereas the black represents the black and the lesbian prisoners.
You can buy Sammut’s debut ‘A Map of Scars’ at Malta’s main bookstores, or order it on Amazon.
Are you keen to read ‘A Map of Scars’, the first LGBTIQ+ novel written by a female Maltese author?