What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In 1944, an Estonian girl must choose between freedom and her family when the Soviet Army occupies Estonia, and the Iron Curtain shuts over the Baltics.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My first novel, The Darkest Corner of the World, is set in Estonia in 1941. Madli, a fifteen-year-old girl faces unimaginable decisions as she tries to survive the threat of both the Soviet and Nazi armies.
My work -in-progress sheds light on another little-known story of World War II. In 1944, thousands of Estonians (along with Latvians, and Lithuanians) tried to escape from their country as the Soviets stormed in to occupy the Baltics. Hundreds of people did not survive the hazardous journey across the stormy Baltic Sea in the fall of 1944.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Dakota Fanning as Madli. She has that quiet intelligence, but is feisty and a bit sassy.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My first novel was published by Dancing Cat Books. I don’t have an agent, but am interested to be represented should the opportunity present itself.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It is a work-in-progress. At the moment, research is consuming most of my time, but I make notes for potential scenes in an outline. The Darkest Corner of the World took about four years, but this one should take a few months. (fingers crossed)
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
One of the most prolific and popular writers of World War II historical fiction is Marsha Skrypuch. I started reading her books a few years ago when I first began to entertain the thought of writing a novel. She deals with horrific topics, such as the Ukrainian famine, and Armenian genocide, with compassion and intelligence.
Ruta Sepetys’ novel Between Shades of Gray tells about the deportation of a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl during World War II. Thousands were deported from the Baltics in June 1941.
World War II historical fiction set in Eastern Europe, and stories of Stalin’s atrocities are remarkably under-represented. There are so many stories that the world is still unaware of, mostly because these countries, and their people were locked behind the Iron Curtain for over fifty years. It is only in the last few year that stories have started trickling out, and many of them are published in languages other than English. Much of my research was done by reading Estonian life histories and textbooks that have not been translated into English.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My current work-in-progress is based on my mother’s escape from Estonia in 1944. She grew up on the island of Hiiumaa. For years, I thought that it was a sleepy little place. It wasn’t until I started to research my first novel, that I realized that the front passed through her farm twice; once in 1941, and again in 1944. She was an adult when she left Estonia with only an apple in the pocket of her coat. As a teenager, I never appreciated the struggles that she faced but I’d like to write this story for my children.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Though I write for young adults, The Darkest Corner of the World, seems to appeal to older readers as well. A number of book clubs are reading the novel, and have asked me to participate. I love getting feedback from readers.