World War II is a terrifying and horrific time in our world's history. Two of the books that have most affected me in the past year have been set in this era: The Book Thief and Winter Garden.
Recently, I was able to add another book to this list... Julie Thomas' The Keeper of Secrets. An excerpt from my review:
Weaving between the present and the past, Julie Thomas does an amazing job of creating memorable characters and an unforgettable, at times heartbreaking, story. I've read many amazing books based in the WWII era, and The Keeper of Secrets finds its own place among the best of them. Intense and emotional, there's still room for hope, love, and courage.
Read the full 4.5-star review here.
So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Julie about the book.
Without further ado...
Is The Keeper of Secrets based on a true story?
Yes, it is. I found the story of the violin in a magazine article and to the best of my knowledge, the one missing 1742 del Gesŭ violin is (potentially) in a private collection and the owner won’t verify his ownership, the other one was identified with a label date change and restored to 1742. So the events in the story are very much based in fact.
World War II is such an intense and devastating period in our world's history. What kind of research did you do to try and get an accurate depiction of life in the concentration camps?
I read lots of accounts on the internet, I looked at footage in TV programs, the “Band of Brothers” series had a liberation of a concentration camp episode and I watched that several times, I read books written by survivors, I found the camp map on the internet which gave me the location of the various buildings. Every fact was researched and backed up by two sources.
Several generations are affected by music, particularly a violin, in this novel. Why was it so important to have music signify hope and salvation?
I have a passion for music and it has helped me through difficult times in my life. I believe in the power of music to uplift and to heal and bring people together. The music was a binding force between different people at different times in the book and it helped to unify the components, having music as a strong thread in all four sections helped the book come together.
I thought you did an amazing job writing from mostly the male perspective. Which character was closest to your heart and why?
Thank you. Interesting question. I love Sergei because he has so much personality and is the antithesis of the country in which he grew up, but I would have to say my favorite character is Rafael. I call him my moral compass, he stands solid while other people try and change his determination for selfish reasons. Without him, the story would not happen and I also love the way he talks to Daniel, they have some of my favourite dialogue.
Thanks so much, Julie!!
To find out more about The Keeper of Secrets and Julie Thomas, please visit the author's Facebook page and on GoodReads.
Note: Although this interview is published on my Mom in Love with Fiction review page today as well, I wanted to share it here for two reasons. First, I loved the book. Second, I thought the author's responses were wonderful.