Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Conversation with Anne Blankman, Author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG

Anne Blankman - Author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG
Hi, Anne! I'm so glad you agreed to join me in a conversation. Your book, The Prisoner of Night & Fog is about a girl whose family is close to Adolf Hitler. What made you choose to write your book from this perspective?

Gorgeous cover, right?

I've been fascinated by World War Two since I read Anne Frank's diary in seventh grade. I loved Anne like a friend, and when I got to the last page and found out what happened to her, I was heartbroken. What could make people want to kill such a wonderful girl? I wondered. 

Of course, there are no real answers to that question. But it did get me thinking about the Nazi perpetrators. Later, when I wrote my college thesis on Hitler, I studied a lot of Nazis' memoirs. What particularly struck me was how these men hated and backstabbed one another--but they felt captivated by Hitler's magnetic personality, even if sometimes they didn't want to be. If he could make men obey him so blindly, what about children growing up in the Nazi Party? How could they break free and learn to think for themselves? Asking myself these questions, and investigating the treacherous world of the elite Nazis, inspired me to write PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG.

I know what you mean. I got to meet Corrie Ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place) when I was a tiny girl. She was magnetic to me and such a gentle soul. Half of my family is Jewish and WW2 and its atrocities were made large as I was growing up. So I love reading books from this period of history. Sort of related. Are you excited to see the movie adaptation of The Book Thief? Or do you fall into the book is always best therefore I can't see the film category?

I'm really excited to see the film version of The Book Thief! I love seeing other people's interpretations of books--sometimes they'll make me see the story in a new way. Besides, anytime a book is made into a movie, it renews interest in the book itself, so what's not to love? 

Good point! And the trailer of that movie. Oh. So beautiful. I wish all of the YA Valentines lived closer, we could have a movie date. Okay, we're on the theme of movies. What are a few of your favorite book to movie adaptations? What makes them so?

I can only name a few? This is going to be hard! Hmm. Definitely the Lord of the Rings trilogy--dramatic, well-paced, visually gorgeous, and the films have GOLLUM. Seriously, one of the most interesting characters ever!

I'm going to mention another movie that few people have probably heard of--Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 thriller The Lady Vanishes. It's based on a 1936 book, The Wheel Spins, by Ethel Lina White. The main character, a young Englishwoman, is traveling by train across Europe when she realizes an elderly woman who shared her train compartment is missing. Most of the other passengers deny the old woman existed, and the English tourist decides to investigate. All the while, the train is heading deeper into a mysterious, unnamed country where she has no hope of getting help from the authorities... Obviously, I love the time period! Plus, the story's got a great hook, with plenty of suspense, humor, and romance. If you haven't see it, check it out sometime!

I showed Hitchcock's The Birds to one of my art classes. At first they scoffed at the super fake (for their generation) special effects, then they marveled at the cigarette machine, but at the end, when Tippi Hedren walks up those stairs, they were silent. Afterwards, they would pop by and say things like "I saw four crows on a line today and got freaked out." Hitchcock films are so awesome. I haven't seen this one, so thanks for the recommendation!

So you mentioned the movie being a great story because of hook, humor, suspense, and romance - will we find all of these things in The Prisoner of Night and Fog?

Romance and suspense? Definitely. Humor? Not so much. After all, this isn't just a book about Nazis, but about a teenage Nazi within Hitler's inner circle. The Party isn't yet in power, and to most Germans, he's the leader of a political group emerging from obscurity. To Gretchen, though, he's her honorary "Uncle Dolf," a beloved family friend who takes her to art museums and gives her chocolates at Christmas. 

Many wonderful children's and YA books have been written about Nazi Germany, but most focus on the Third Reich's victims. I wanted to try a fresh approach. When I learned about Hitler's real- life half-niece who shared his Munich apartment, I knew I wanted to tell a story about a girl wrapped up in the top-ranking Nazis' hyper masculine world. It's a risky and unusual premise, but it was a book I HAD to write. 

I think it is a truly unique POV and have I mentioned how EXCITED I am to read it?  Okay, so speaking of having to write....will you add a sentence to our Exquisite Corpse game? Feel free to start a new paragraph if you feel like it's a must. And thanks SO MUCH for our chat!

Thanks so much for having me, Jro! I can't wait to get my hands on your book, and I'm so glad you're excited to read PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG. Did I mention the sequel comes out in April 2015? I can't say much yet, but I can promise that it has the same main characters, Gretchen and Daniel. And next time, the stakes are even higher....
Exquisite Corpse? How could I refuse to play a game with a name like that?!

Thanks Anne! More to look forward to! And now Johnny's story continues:

Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole. One moment he was occupying stall #6 of the third floor boy's restroom, the next he was gone, nothing but a flush and a startled scream in his wake.  Briefly, he wondered how he'd talk himself out of this mess when they found him...if they found him. But a howling sound suddenly echoed through the surrounding darkness and he knew; there wasn’t time to worry. He'd landed on his hands and knees on a stone floor covered with a foul-smelling, limy liquid that made him glad he'd skipped lunch.


  1. Anne, I am SO excited for your book!! Great interview, ladies! <3

  2. Excellent interview! I'm definitely going to have to read this one. I love WWII stories, and this sounds so incredibly unique!

  3. Gah! I can't say it enough: I cannot wait for this book!!!!!!

  4. What an interesting interview--how did I not know you wrote your thesis on Hitler, Anne?? Whoa. I don't know if I could have survived that emotionally. But I'm sure it was fascinating (and horrifying). Can't wait for your books to be published!!

  5. Love the premise, I really want to read this! My husband's grandmother who died a year ago this December was from Belguim. She met her husband during WWII and saw some terrible things. It was something to listen to her talk about it in her sweet soft accent.


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