Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments in order to be entered. So, be on the lookout!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROBERT (BOB) ELMER has written more than 50 books for youth and adults, building on his experience as a news editor and reporter, advertising copywriter, teacher, and assistant pastor. When he's not writing (or sailing) he's a mentor and editorial board member for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, and has spoken to young audiences across North America. Robert and his wife Ronda live in the Pacific Northwest.
WILDFLOWERS OF TEREZIN
by Robert Elmer
Published by Abingdon Press
ABOUT THE BOOK
Wildflowers of Terezin is a sweeping historical novel set against a backdrop of danger. A Danish Lutheran pastor's complacent faith is stretched to the breaking point during World War II when he meets a young Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahamsen and becomes deeply involved in Resistance efforts to save Denmark's Jews from the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia--also known as Theresienstadt.
Challenged by his activist brother and swayed by his own attraction to Hanne, Pastor Steffen abandons his formerly quiet, uninvolved life and hesitantly volunteers to help smuggle Denmark's Jews out of the country before a Nazi roundup. Steffen finds that helping his Jewish neighbors is the most decent, spiritual thing he has ever done. As he actually does God's work, rather than just talking about it, Steffen's faith deepens and he takes greater risks in his sermons.
When things go terribly wrong and Hanne is sent to Terezin, Steffen finds his heart fully engaged. He undertakes protests and rescues that are more and more dangerous, never imagining where it will lead him, or the ultimate cost of his decision to get directly involved.
Readers, buy your copy of Wildflowers of Terezin today!
1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
My Danish heritage has flavored my interest in writing historical fiction, and I've always been interested in history. Perhaps it's that way with children of immigrants. There's a strong tie back to the old country, and when my parents and my grandmother told stories about their life in Denmark, I knew there were things there I had to pass along somehow. What was it like during the occupation years? What was it like to be a student back then, a kid? Were there lessons for us that we need to remember today? I wanted so much to tell these stories, both in the "Young Underground" novels for kids, and now in Wildflowers of Terezin.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
You know, sometimes it's not obvious until a book is written. All fiction writers draw from their own experience, but seldom build characters that are too close to themselves--except perhaps by accident. In this story, I look back and see some of myself in the character of Steffen, one of the main characters.
3. Are there any themes in Wildflowers of Terezin that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
The story is about faith in the face of deadly opposition, about choosing the right thing and making love work when it's hard. It's a challenge to complacent faith, and a contrast between those who seek safety and those who just do the right thing, period. Where is the safest place, really? I think we can all relate to that kind of challenge, even if we're not living in a war zone or a prison camp.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
Probably the most difficult parts were the bleakest days for Hanne in the Terezin death camp. I won't give it away, but I have to say these were scenes where Robert Frost's quote came to mind: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." I have to say those were emotional scenes to write.
And it took tons and tons of research. All the months of preparation and writing that went into "The Young Underground" also went into this book. I've poured through stacks of old Danish books, looking for the best information from original sources. Good thing I read Danish!
Question: Do you read/speak a second language? If so, what?
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
Right now I'm immersed in my new position, serving as a writer/editor at a university. I'm working on helping edit a testimony/autobiography, and my idea file is percolating, so stay tuned!
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Thank you, Bob, for being in the spotlight with us.
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