So I got lucky enought to interview onof my all time favorite authors, Anne Blankman, through email! She wrote Pisoner of Night and Fog and Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke which is coming out this April!
1. What inspired you t write Prisoner of Night and Fog?
A: I’ve been fascinated by WWII ever since I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was twelve. It wasn’t until a few years ago, though,when I cam across a nonfiction book about Adolf Hitler’s half-niece Geli Raubal that I knew I anted to write a story set durong this time period. Long after I’d finsihe the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about Geli. What had her life been like, livg with her uncle while his political star was on the rise? Would it have been possible to break free from him? I needed the freedom of a fictional main charcter, though, so Gretchen Muller was born.
2. At the back of the book there are the Author Notes (Your Notes) about Hitler and the war etc. Did you already know these facts or did you have to do some extra research for the book?
A: In college I wrote my thesis about Hitler, but to write this book I had to dig deeply into his early life and learn more about Munich. The research for PRISONER was intense. I read everything I could get my hands on-biographies, socal histories, memoirs, and so forth. I listened to recordings of Hitler’s speeches so I could get a sense of how he talked-he had a very distinctive public speaing style. I watched old newsreels, studying how Hitler walked, how he used his hands, all those little details that can help your story come alive.
3. Adolf Hitler wasn’t THAT bad in the book. Don’ get me wrong. He is a very bad person but in the book he seemed kind and quite generous to Gretchen! It was like Hiter had two sides to him. The fatherly side and the cold, hard side. Was Hitler like that in real life? Did he have a nice side to him or is there a meaning behind his kindness?
A: This is such an interesting question! Let me start off by saying that I one hundred prcent believe that hitler is evil. I worked very hard to portray him as accurately as possible-not only because he was a real person but out of respect for his millions of victims. It would have been easy to reduce him to a caricature, like a sinister figure rubbing his hand with a devilish glee.
But he wasn’t like that. he could be charming. He prided himself on his old-fashioned manners torward women. In 1931, when Priosner of Night and Fog takes place, he maintained a tight rein on his self control and wasn’t yet prone to fits of rage. At times, he did appear kindly and generous-which, in my opinion, makes him even more despicable because he was able to mask his horrible sides.
4. Gretchen (Hitler’s daughter like figure) falling in love with a Jewish Reporter, Daniel, was such an amazing idea! Where/when did this idea pop up?
A: Aww, thank you!
Daniel was inspired by several real people: the reporters at Munich Post, the real-life newspaper where Daniel works in at Prisoner of Night and Fog and my father. My dad used to be an investigate reporter. When my brother and I were kids, we loved listening to our dad’s stories about his reporter days. One account in particular has always stayed with me-my dad was assigned to cover Ku Klux Klan meeeting when he was a cub reporter in the 1970s, before I was born. He said one of the worst things he’s ever seen were the little kids at KKK gatherings. He always wondered if those kids were able to think for themselves, or if their upbringing meant they would be trapped in a circle of hate for the rest of their lives. Daniel owes a lot of his opinions to my dad.
5. Your book is a work of fiction but runs mostly on fact. Was it hard writing a story so true? If it was, how so?
A: Well, the research alone takes a long time to complete! And sometimes you can’t take the story in a direction you want to go because it would be historically inaccurate . You would have to work within the parameters of history, which can be tricky. That said, it’s a wondeful challenge, and I’m a big history dork, so I love learning about different time periods.
6. Do you like to torture your characters?
A: Ha! It can be tempting to make life easy for your charcters-but where’s the fun in reading about people who are just coating along? I’m interested in reading about charcters who work hard at life. They mak mistakes; sometimes they take terrible risks; and they don’t always behave themselves. But they don’t give up.
7. Can you tell us a little bit about the next book, Conspiracy of blood and smoke?
A: The sequel picks up a year and a half a year later, after Gretchen and Daniel had made a new life in England. When a family tragedy forces Daniel to return to Germany, it isn’t long before Gretchen recieves word that he’s wanted for murder. Convinced that he’s innnocent and deperate to save him, she goes back to her homeland, where she and Daniel find themselves mixed up the berlin Mafia and a deadly murderous conspiracy that strecthes all the way to Reichstag itself.
Bonus Historical facts: The murder that Daniel’s framed for is based on a real unsolved homicide! And the “conspiracy’ in the title is a real-life historical conspiracy!
8. Lastly, do yo have any advice to writers/students out there?
A: Write and read as much as you can. Also, expect rejection but persevere. Published authors are the people who didn’t give up.
Thanks so much for having me!!!
So that was my interview with Anne Blankman! She also sent me some really awesome signed bookmarks so keep your eyes open for a giveaway soon! I also posted a spoiler free review for prisoner of Night and Fog so if you want to know more then you can check that out!
Thanks guys and thanks again Anne for answering my interview questions!