Thursday, February 11, 2016

Author Meet-and-Greet: Ruta Sepetys

Three years ago, I listened to a haunting, beautifully written story about a little known tragedy during World War II.  The book was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  After finishing it, I hand wrote her a letter of appreciation, and she wrote back!

In my letter I shared that I felt I had a story to write, but didn't know what it was, and that I would keep reading and being inspired and writing until the story came to me.

Tonight at a local library event, I had the pleasure of introducing myself and my daughter to Ruta. I said, "I hand wrote you a letter..." and she said, "And I wrote you back!"

I told her that what she had written to me had meant so much, "It will be wonderful to read your work one day."

I love these author meet-and-greets. I love including my daughter. I love envisioning myself in a similar situation.

Ruta gave interesting background on her newest book Salt of the Sea and discussed her research process.

At one point she looked at her writing friend and said, "Some days writing sucks, doesn't it?" I laughed out loud and watched as a writing friend who sat in the row ahead of us wrote it in his journal.

What a comfort to know that this writing life is hard for even the published authors!

Someone asked if I'd like our photo taken with Ruta and I handed my phone to a woman on the library staff. I was touched when Ruta said, "Will you take one with my phone?" We discussed my plan to publish under my maiden name. "We'll be close to each other on the shelves!" Ruta enthused.

This last comment impressed Cadence and we talked about our impressions of the event and meeting an author on our drive home. I keep wondering what influence these kinds of evenings will have on Cadence as she grows up. I know how important they are to my development as a writer.

If you enjoy historical fiction or are looking for a new author's work to dive into, I highly recommend Ruta Sepetys. Her stories cover difficult, little-known times in history, but they demonstrate the triumph of the human spirit. You won't be disappointed.  Her newest book is Salt to the Sea.

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