“Fear is a big component in what I do because I’m writing about time periods that I did not experience, and that’s scary. And so, my biggest fear is that I’m gonna get it wrong. And, I have such a desire to get it right, to be as authentic as I can, and sometimes that’s paralyzing.” Author Ruta Sepetys discusses her book The Fountains of Silence on NPT’s A Word on Words.
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About Ruta Sepetys
Ruta Sepetys s an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over thirty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.
– Hi, I’m Ruta Sepetys, and this is The Fountains of Silence. When I went to Spain for my first book on tour, the Spanish people were so compassionate about the hidden history in that story, and when I asked them about their history, they said it was much too painful. And, I told my publisher, “I’m really interested in “learning more about Spain.” And, my publisher sent me this article from the New York Times that estimated that over 250 thousand, maybe 300 thousand, infants had been stolen from parents in Spain that didn’t align with the Franco dictatorship, and these children were gifted and sold to fascist families. And, when the women gave birth, they were told that their baby had died.
– I applaud you for telling these stories because it’s history that needs to be told.
– I learned recently that history is a major in college. It ranks as one of the lowest. Students feel it’s no longer an employable major.
– And this is an opportunity we have with historical fiction to really go in and choose a time period that might be considered more obscure, and historical fiction it’s used in book clubs, it’s used in community read programs, and I bring that up because then we have an opportunity to discuss it and maybe we’ll be sitting in a book club and maybe there are people there whose family stood on opposite sides during the war. History divided us, but suddenly we’re united!
– We’re united again.
– In story, in study, in remembrance. And that’s the power of books, and that’s one of the many reasons I love historical fiction.
– What scares you the most about your writing?
– Fear is a big component in what I do because I’m writing about time periods that I did not experience, and that’s scary. And so, my biggest fear is that I’m gonna get it wrong. And, I have such a desire to get it right, to be as authentic as I can, and sometimes that’s paralyzing.
– You’re known for giving a voice to the voiceless. Is that why you told it from so many points of view?
– History has many angles. So, what I do is I want to give a balance to portrayal. There were people, as I said, who suffered terribly under Franco. There are people who prospered under Franco. So, I chose to create different characters to represent those different points of view.
– Ruta thank-you so much for being here. It’s been absolutely fascinating.
– Thanks for having me!
– And thank-you for watching A Word on Words. I’m J.T. Ellison, keep reading.
– What determines how history is preserved and recalled? Why is it that some of these stories penetrate our collective consciousness? And then there are parts of history that remain hidden, and so I lay in bed at night thinking, “What is history hiding from us, and how can I find it.”