In his new memoir, Searching for Schindler, author Thomas Keneally pays tribute to Leopold Page, a Holocaust survivor who inspired his Booker Prize-winning novel Schindler’s Ark and the film Schindler’s List. He speaks to DARREN LEVIN.

GREAT stories, explains acclaimed author Tom Keneally, simply walk up one day and devour you whole.

For Keneally, it was a hot, windy day in Los Angeles in 1980, where the air was imbued with a sort of “strange, malign electricity”. He was in search of a banal thing – a briefcase – in that great hotbed of banal things, Beverly Hills, when he stumbled upon Handbag Studio, a store with luggage and accessories at discount prices.

It was there, in that air-conditioned Beverly Hills store, among the cowhide, crocskins and pigskins, that he encountered Leopold Pfefferberg, or Leopold Page as he was unceremoniously christened at Ellis Island in the late ’40s. Keneally would later refer to him simply by the Polish diminutive, Poldek.