Sunday, May 19, 2013

Interview with Ruta Sepetys

Hello, fellow novel loves! Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Ruta Sepetys, author of "Between Shades of Gray" and "Out of the Easy".

Ruta, welcome!
Your debut novel, “Between Shades of Gray”, tells the somber, sometimes terrifying tale of a young Lithuanian girl, Lina, who lives through the Second World War. How would you describe the response to the book?
The response has been overwhelming. I had no idea that so many people shared this history. The book is now published in over 40 countries. I'm so grateful!

What was the biggest challenge in writing it? And the most rewarding thing?

The biggest challenge was that I don't speak Lithuanian. To truly capture the essence of a country you must speak the language, so I was at a huge disadvantage. The most rewarding was reuniting with the survivors I interviewed during my research and celebrating the fact that together we're bringing this piece of history out of the dark!

I was impressed by the level of detail in “Between Shades of Gray”. What kind of research did you do before you wrote it?

I traveled to Lithuania and conducted extensive interviews with survivors, historians, psychologists, etc. I did a lot of listening. I learned that if I asked questions I would get specific questions, but if I just let people speak and describe things on their own, I'd get a much deeper level of detail.

What is, in your opinion, the most important thing in a novel?

I enjoy when a novel asks questions but doesn't necessarily give the answer. Readers are very intuitive. They will come up with their own answers.
Finally, can you tell us about your next book, “Out of the Easy”?
My new book, "Out of the Easy" is also historical fiction. It's set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950. It chronicles the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who is born in to a very disadvantaged family but dreams of building a different life for herself. It's full of gangsters and scandal too. Please watch the video at for full details.

Thank you, Ruta.

"Between Shades of Gray" and "Out of the Easy" are both available now from Philomel books.