Wildflowers of Terezin has been one of my favorite novels of 2010. I reviewed the novel here:
Review: Wildflowers of Terezin. I was fortunate to be able to ask Robert Elmer a few questions about himself and the novel. Be sure you will read more Elmer reviews on Dark Glass Ponderings in future.
Reading the afterword, I see you were inspired to write Wildflowers of Terezin as a result of stories shared by your Denmark-born parents. Were there any specific incidents in Wildflowers or your Underground series that come directly from your family’s experience?
I would say the context was inspired by their stories--stories that made me dig more deeply into the historical record. My father lived in
during the war; he was a young teen during the worst of it. He tells me stories of how he went to school, and suddenly one day three of his classmates didn't show up for class. They, of course, were his Jewish classmates. Not long after that, his Uncle Robert (the man I was named after) was riding his bicycle through the city streets, and was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle. (Remember that scene in WILDFLOWERS?) Unfortunately, in real life Uncle Robert was killed. So it was very rough in those days, particularly in late 1943 and 1944. Copenhagen
My mother, who lived on a more remote (and thus more peaceful) island in the south of
, had an older brother who would disappear at night to take part in Resistance activities against the Nazis. He apparently was very secretive and wouldn't speak about it, however. Denmark
I love the quotes you shared in the beginning of each chapter. I keep a quote notebook and several of these quotes made it in my notebook. Is there any particular figure during the World War II time period that most strongly inspires you?
The courage of King Christian inspires me. As many people know, he would ride daily through the streets of
on his horse, seeking to encourage the people. When one of the German occupiers asked him why he didn't have a bodyguard with him, the king simply replied that his people were his bodyguards. Talk about courage! Copenhagen
How did writing Wildflowers as an adult novel, compare to writing your young adult “Young Underground” series?
That's an interesting question. They both started out in the same place, using much of the same research, and relied on many of the same settings. Of course, in WILDFLOWERS I could get into the heads and motivations of the adult characters much more deeply, so that would be the greatest difference. But I have to say, writing WILDFLOWERS took me back to the days when I was putting together the "Young Underground" adventures. I treasure both experiences.
I notice your books span through several genres: contemporary, historical, young adult. Do you have a favorite genre to write?
Honestly I love them all. I love writing for younger readers, because I'm a kid at heart. But I also enjoy historicals because of the challenge of making the past come alive. I just can't decide! :-)
Can you tell me about your next project on the horizon?
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 for allowing me the opportunity to read and review Wildflowers of Terezin. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feel I can give it the highest recommendation!
Thank you so much. This book came straight from my heart--a book I just had to write!