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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spotlight on Robert Elmer and Wildflowers of Terezin

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!


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.

by Robert Elmer
Published by Abingdon Press


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!

* * * * *

Thank you, Bob, for being in the spotlight with us.

NEW!! Readers, find the question associated with the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Wildflowers of Terezin. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Megan said...

I'd love to read this book! My husband is actually from Slovakia and Terezin is in the Czech Republic (about 8 hours from where he grew up)
I know a little Slovak from him, but can definitely not speak that language or any other besides English!! I wish I could, maybe someday!


Anonymous said...

my parents/grandparents grew up in Slovkia...i do understand the slovak language

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Carolynn said...

I can actually speak and read 3 languages. English, High German and 'Huttrish'.
Which is:
carolynnwald [at]hotmail [dot] com

Sheila Deeth said...

I've heard of this book and already thought it looked interesting. Now I'm even more interested.

I learned Latin, French and German in school, but it's easier to read than to speak. When I try to speak French it always ends up half-German.

sdeeth at msn dot com

Abby said...

This book is definitely going on my have to read books!! Unfortunately, I don't know a 2nd language, although I am starting Spanish, as soon as I can squeeze it in! *eye roll* Time has become a precious commodity.

Esther Miriam Lopez said...

I speak Tamil, Hindi and Bahasa Malaysia.


windycindy said...

The author wishes to emulate the compassionate heart of her character named, Hannah. I like the heroines to have self-esteem and strong willed in a good way! I think I would love to be more like that, thus, that is why I like those traits in heroines. Thanks, Cindi

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I have sent your mailing address to Bob so he can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.