This was my first year at Word, and it was awesome! For those of you who don’t know what it is, its this big festival celebrating everything to do with writing. Tents were occupied by publishers, universities, organizations, authors… you name it! There were tons of cheap books and free swag. It was a pretty cold day, but that didn’t stop me from having a ton of fun!
I LOVED Code Name Verity, so when I saw Elizabeth Wein’s name on the list of authors, I decided I HAD to go. She was in the Remarkable Reads tent hosted by Penguin Random House discussing her new novel Rose Under Fire. The summary of her book (taken from Goodreads) is:
Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women’s concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force. These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive.
In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil.
Elizabeth first read an excerpt describing the scene in which Rose is captured by Germans pilots, which really set the mood for the rest of the presentation and left everyone in the audience hooked. She went on to break down each component that went into such a short section of the book, from personal experiences to research she conducted.
Following the reading, a book reviewer for the Toronto Star, Diedre Baker, conducted an interview with Elizabeth. Writing a book about the Holocaust is not easy, and she often questioned whether she was ready to tackle the topic, or if anyone would actually read the book. She explained how she researched for the novel by reading survivors accounts and attending a seminar at Ravensbrück to get a deeper knowledge of the camp.
Hope is a huge theme in the novel and Elizabeth discussed how she connected hope with flying and poetry. This led to the recitation of the poems at the beginning and end of the novel which was pretty cool.
She also explained why there are so many different formats used in the story. The first reason is that she didn’t feel finished experimenting with styles after Code Name Verity which was half confession, half journal. Second, she felt it would be easier to attack the story from the angle of someone writing about the events rather than experiencing them firsthand.
After the event, we all went over to the tent next door to get out books signed. Elizabeth actually took the time to talk to everyone and personalize their books which was really nice of her.
I also picked up some Divergent swag:
In all it was an incredible day and I can’t wait to go back next year!