Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Ellen Marie Wiseman is a wise woman...plus a book giveaway

Introduction by Melissa Amster

Ever since I picked up What She Left Behind, I have become a fan of Ellen Marie Wiseman's harrowing and haunting novels. They're all amazing and so hard to put down. I still need to read The Plum Tree, but I am sure I will enjoy that one too. Her latest novel, The Lost Girls of Willowbrook, will have you on the edge of your seat. I was lucky enough to obtain an advanced copy and I completely devoured it! (Check out my review.) Ellen is here to talk more about this novel, and she has TWO copies to give away!

Ellen Marie Wiseman is the New York Times bestselling author of the highly acclaimed historical fiction novels The Orphan Collector, What She Left Behind, The Plum Tree, Coal River, and The Life She Was Given. Born and raised in Three Mile Bay, a tiny hamlet in northern New York, she’s a first-generation German American who discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in New York State. Since then, more than one million copies of her books have been sold in the United States. Her novels have been published worldwide, translated into twenty languages, and named to “Best Of” lists by Reading Group Choices, Good Housekeeping, Goodreads, The Historical Novel Society, Great Group Reads, and more. A mother of two, Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and dog.  (Bio adapted from Amazon.)

Visit Ellen online:


Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.
Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.
Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could have imagined . . .
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
That’s a hard one! I think I have to go with the numerous letters I’ve received from readers thanking me for writing THE PLUM TREE because the novel shows what it was like for many average, working-class Germans during WWII, especially the women and children who were left behind while the men were off fighting. Readers, especially those whose families experienced it, were extremely grateful to have that side of the story revealed. 

Another letter that meant a great deal to me was from the child of a Holocaust survivor who said reading THE PLUM TREE made her see the German people in a better light. To think that my work changed the way someone feels about a group of people is utterly unbelievable and tremendously rewarding at the same time. I was also exceptionally moved when Dr. Mike Wilkins, the doctor who secretly gave a key to Geraldo Rivera so he could get inside Willowbrook State School to film the terrible conditions there, said that reading THE LOST GIRLS OF WILLOWBROOK made him proud to be instrumental in getting the institution shut down. 

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing The Lost Girls of Willowbrook?
The biggest reward was when the plot finally came together after three tries! The biggest challenge was the heartbreaking research. As you know, I write about difficult subjects in my novels, but reading about Willowbrook State School was some of the hardest research I’ve ever done. It was also a challenge to tone down the actual conditions inside the institution because on one hand, I wanted people to know how horrific it truly was, on the other hand, adding those details would have made for an almost unbearable read.   

What is something you learned from your research for this novel that you were not expecting? 
I was shocked to learn that medical experiments were actually being conducted on the young residents. Some of the top virologists in the U.S. used the school as a hideout for developing vaccines for hepatitis, measles, and other diseases. And it was funded by the Defense Department. Also, I was surprised when I realized that this year is the 35th anniversary of Willowbrook’s final closure and the 50th anniversary of Geraldo Rivera’s groundbreaking exposé. 

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abe.  

Which character do you identify with the most from all the books you've written?
Probably Christine from THE PLUM TREE because the story is loosely based on family history and my mother’s experiences growing up in Germany during WWII. 

What autumn activities are you looking forward to?
Does going on book tour count? Seriously though, after two years of virtual events, I’m really looking forward to meeting readers in person again. Of course I love other fall activities, like apple picking and trick-or-treating with my grandkids, but I’m always a little sad to see summer come to an end. 

Thanks to Ellen for chatting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends September 5th at midnight EST.

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traveler said...

Yes, I have been mistaken for someone else. I have read Ellen Marie Wiseman's novels which are captivating and unforgettable.

Margie Shaw said...

No I’ve never been mistaken for someone else. My grandmother used to mix up our names but she knew who we were.

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait to read this book. I actually lived very near Willowbrook Institution. Now most of the grounds is a city university

Mary C said...

Yes, I have.

Mary Preston said...

No, but it would be confusing.

Cherisse said...

Yes I have for my sister!

Lindsey said...

I have never been mistaken for someone else.

Rita Wray said...

Yes I have, a woman came up to me in the store and said I looked just like her friend. It was kind of spooky.

holdenj said...

Great interview! And good question, but no, I have not!

jtmswim said...

No, I've never been mistaken for someone else. Thanks for the giveaway chance.

Emily Catan said...

No, I haven't mistaken for someone else. On the same token, I did mistake someone else for my friend - that was so embarrassing! Thank you for the giveaway.

bn100 said...


Xia Lee said...

No I’ve never been mistaken for someone else

Lelandlee said...

No I’ve never been mistaken for someone else

Burma Turner said...

Yes, A long time ago!