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Monday, August 16, 2010

Robert Elmer and Free Books!

PhotobucketIn a sweeping historical/romantic 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 and becomes deeply involved in Resistance efforts to save Denmark's Jews from the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia--also known as Theresienstadt.

Let's meet novelist Robert Elmer, author of Wildflowers of Terezin (Abingdon Press, May 2010).

Tell us about yourself, Robert.

PhotobucketMy first novel for young readers, A Way Through the Sea, came out in 1994, and since then I've written a mix of fiction (and a little non-fiction) for older and younger readers--including historical fiction, books for the Guideposts book club and sci-fi/fantasy. My latest is book number fifty-something, a World War 2 historical novel for grown-ups. It's called Wildflowers of Terezin and it comes straight from my heart.

I've worked as a newspaper editor, reporter, assistant pastor, and advertising writer. Today I'm a writer/editor at a university in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Simpson College in San Francisco, where I met my wife, Ronda. We have three young adult kids--all married--and one grandchild (with another on the way!).

Ronda and I attend a great church and small group in the town where we live. In my spare time I love to get out in my little sailboat, and explore new places with Ronda. I've served as a mentor and board member for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.

-- Enjoy sailing.

-- Danish parents.

-- Born in California.

-- Learned English in the sandbox.

-- Blessed with one wonderful wife, three wonderful kids.

Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Wildflowers of Terezin.

PhotobucketChallenged 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.

What is it about your lead characters that will make your readers care about them?

I honestly can't decide which of the two main characters I like the most. I identify with elements in both the Steffen and his (secondary character) brother. And I also identify with Hanne, the courageous, compassionate nurse. She's the other main character. But all of them inspire me in different ways, and I'm hoping readers will be inspired similarly. So here's the character summary:

Hanne Abrahamsen is a busy nurse at one of Copenhagen's busiest hospitals, doing what she can during the tough years of Nazi occupation to make a difference. She attends synagogue occasionally with her mother, but struggles with knowing where she fits in. Her family expects her to marry Aron, a man from a prominent Jewish family. She's not so sure, especially after she meets Pastor Steffen Petersen.

A confirmed bachelor, Steffen pastors a larger church downtown and is doing all he can to survive the war. His philosophy: Don't make anyone angry, and don't make yourself a target. Stay under the radar. That flavors his spiritual outlook and doesn't sit well with his activist younger brother, who is involved in the Underground resistance movement. But they might have made it through the war unscathed, if Steffen hadn't been caught in a street battle's crossfire, taken to the hospital, and placed under Hanne's care. And no one could imagine what would awaken inside them when Denmark's Jews were targeted for deportation to a death camp called Terezin.

Why will readers enjoy your novel?

The best way to answer that question is to ask readers themselves. So I went to the book's listing on Amazon and checked it out. I particularly enjoyed the review that said "Wildflowers of Terezin is a beautiful and lyrical novel that kept me self-reflecting long after I finished the last page."

If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?

PhotobucketA young Gregory Peck would play Pastor Steffen.

PhotobucketSteve McQueen would play his younger activist brother.

PhotobucketAnd Ingrid Bergman would play Hanne, the nurse. Ah, what a film that would be!

I'm definitely sold on that one!

How important to the story is your book's setting?

As a historical novel set in a particular country, setting is everything. And so once the theme and topic were selected--the time when Jews from Denmark were threatened--I just followed the historical record. The camp in Czechoslovakia, Terezin, took a little research, but there's a fascinating story about that, as well.

What is the last book you read that moved you?

Eli by Bill Myers comes to mind. I thought his retelling of the Gospel accounts using a contemporary setting was gripping.

Where else can readers find you or your writing online?


The book is available for online purchase via the following buttons:

701924: Wildflowers of Terezin

Thanks, Robert, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Robert has offered to give a copy of his novel to the winner of our drawing on Monday, August 23. To enter, leave a comment for Robert, below. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.

Check out my interviews with Allie Pleiter and Dandi Mackall, below, and leave comments under their interviews to be entered in drawings for signed copies of their books. And see how to win one of five copies of my next release, The Perfect Blend, HERE.

Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants. See full disclaimer HERE.


jeff7salter said...

Sounds like a terrific book!
I'm an amateur military historian and I love novels featuring aspects of World War II.
When I read such a novel, I have a really good feel for whether the author knows his / her history.
It truly sounds like you do (though I haven't read your book yet).
Please enter me in the drawing.

Linda said...

Gotta have this one! I'm collecting WWII novels, as they enlighten me on the era. (Hated history in school.) Please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Wendy said...

I enjoy historical novels.

Charity said...

Please enter me. This book sounds like a great read! Thanks!

squiresj said...

My first thought when I read about this book was back to CorrieTen Boon - now I'm dating myself
I would love to win this book
jrs362 at hotmail dot com
If you need some reviews, I'm available

raspberrygirl said...

Books about WW 2 and the Holocaust are very interesting to me. Would like to be entered in the giveaway.


ohiobuckeye91 (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in this contest. I know a family from Sweden who had some Jewish blood and had to be hidden. I would really love to read this book.


misskallie2000 said...

Hi Robert, I enjoyed your intereview. Knowing a little about an author can help us relate to their writing. I love the story line for Wildflowers of Terezin. I have added to my wish list and can't wait to read. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us.

Thanks for this opportnunity to enter this giveaway Trish.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Cindy W. said...

I love books set during the WWII era and I have read wonderful reviews on Wildflowers of Terezin. It has been on my MUST have, must read list for some time! I would love to win a copy. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


barbjan10 said...

Robert's book is indeed interesting to my compassion for the Jews during WWII. My husband is a retired military officer and we lived in Augsburg, Germany for 3 years. We visited Dachau and heard the horror stories. Being a little girl during the war, the full impact of the Jewish plight didn't begin to hit me until I learned of many stories from others while living in Germany. Thank you for offering your book for a giveaway, Robert. I appreciate being able to make a comment and possibly win your book.

Sharing Christ's Love,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book. I have always been intrigued by books that are set during WWII and The Holocaust. I would very much like to win this book. Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Sparrow said...

I fell in love with Robert Elmer's books when I was a teen and now have read a few of his adult books (and still enjoy the YA ones). I haven't read this one, and would love a chance at a copy.


Anonymous said...

I love reading books from the WWII era, and this certainly sounds like an excellent one! It would be great to win a copy.




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