|Photo credit: Charles Bush|
If you don't know who Kristin Hannah is by now, head to a bookstore and get at least one of her books. You won't be disappointed! Aside from her latest novel, I personally recommend Firefly Lane, Home Front, Winter Garden, and The Things We Do for Love. There are still more of her books in my TBR pile, so I may be recommending those in the future! In the meantime, visit her website and Facebook page.
What do you feel makes The Nightingale stand out from all other books about WWII and/or the Holocaust?
That's the real challenge to writing about World War II. There have been so many wonderful movies and novels and books about the time period. I felt the pressure to be fresh and original pretty keenly while I was writing. I think that what makes my novel stand out from the wealth of WWII literature is its focus on the women. Most of what we read and see about the war is male-driven. It is a personal passion of mine to tell the stories of ordinary women in extraordinary times, and the women of the French Resistance really fit that bill. I truly believe that their heroism was all too often overlooked or forgotten, and I think it's important to remember. To ask ourselves even now, seventy years later, when would we risk our lives, and our children's lives, to save a stranger.
Which of the sisters do you identify with more in the novel?
Well, Isabelle was easier to write because she--naively--saw the world in black and white. For her there was no dilemma. She saw the evil around her and she acted instantly, without regard to the danger she was putting herself in. But then again, she wasn't a wife or a mother. She only had her own life and her own needs to consider. For me, Vianne's story was fraught with danger and dilemma and fear. She--like me--was a mother, trying to save her child during an impossibly dangerous time, with a Nazi living in her home, watching her every move. So, I guess I identify more with Vianne's struggle and with her character.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring novelist?
It's hard to limit my advice to one piece, but if I had to do it, I would say, BEGIN. That is the hardest part of writing, and the single act of beginning, of committing, is paramount. I think you need to say you are starting to write a novel or a play or a screenplay or a short story. Whatever you've chosen. And you need to tell people so that they will ask you often about your progress. It's a great motivator. Then you need to write.
I don't generally cast my characters in my head, although I know some authors do. I am such a huge fan of movies that what I really care about in optioning my novel is to pair with a great writer and director who create their own vision based on my work. I imagine they will surprise me with casting.
Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, share a favorite Valentine's Day memory with us.
It may not sound very romantic, but my favorite Valentine's Day memory was my son's first Valentine's Day in kindergarten, when all the kids gave out valentines. My son and I made hand-drawn cards and attached candy to each one and he was so thrilled to give out those cards and so thrilled to receive his in return.
Which book are you looking forward to reading?
The next book on my TBR pile is Lisa Gardner's Crash and Burn. I can't wait to get home from my tour so I can start it.
Thanks to Kristin for visiting with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing The Nightingale with our readers.
~Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster
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