Blog Tour · Event · Interview

Blog Tour Interview: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog! I have a really exciting blog post for you – an interview with Ruta Sepetys! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Sepetys’ most recent work, The Fountains of Silence. I am so excited to celebrate this wonderful book.

The Fountains of Silence takes us to Franco’s fascist Spain in 1957. Despite being a country that I have traveled to many times, I am sad to admit that I didn’t know as much as I would have liked about Spain’s history prior to reading this book. Below is the Goodreads synopsis if you would like to know more.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Interview With Ruta Sepetys

Now let us get onto why you’re all here. The interview and discussion with this talented author.

In the general discussion at the beginning of the event, Sepetys shared some really interesting facts about the inspiration for The Fountains of Silence that I would like to share. Picture Ruta Sepetys on tour in Spain for one of her previous books when she is approached by a group of Spanish students at the end of an event. They loved her method of sharing history and explained that Franco’s era of Spanish history is one that still goes largely unspoken. They wanted to know more about it and requested that Sepetys write a book on the subject. Initially Sepetys’ instinct was that she couldn’t possibly, having no Spanish roots of her own. However, she couldn’t stop thinking about the Spanish students and this era of history until eventually she found a way of telling it. She created her protagonist, Daniel, to be a tourist to Spain. Since her protagonist was to be an outsider like herself, The Fountains of Silence was born and Sepetys found herself in a position to share this story.

Listening to Ruta Sepetys speak was just a joy. Her passion for history and writing alike shone through with every detailed answer she gave to each question. Her enthusiasm was second to none. It is this enthusiasm that make her books so captivating for young adults and adults alike. From a young age, she developed my interest in the past, which definitely put me on the road to where I am today, studying a degree in History and Politics. It was a huge honour and privilege of mine to be able to attend an intimate blogger event with her. She is an author who I greatly admire for her ability to shed light on often untold histories and getting to ask her a few questions of my own was just incredible.

You can tell a lot from an author about who they would invite to their literary dinner party and so I thought that there was no better question to begin with than this one.

“I think I would invite people who I knew could and would carry the conversation.”

– Ruta Sepetys

Similar to many writers, and certainly relevant to myself, Sepetys described herself as very much an introvert who was attracted to writing as a form of story telling for its solitary nature. For that reason, she emphasised that she would want prominent figures who would be willing to hold up the conversation in attendance. She mentioned names like Daphne du Maurier to tell The Apple Tree story, and Truman Capote to “light up the room and be really controversial,” to provoke conversation. She also added Roald Dahl to the mix, and went on to discuss how more strong women needed to be there too. For this, she determined that Emily Brontë would be perfect for the job. Sepetys shared that she would utilise this time with Brontë by asking her “for a masterclass on setting”. Interestingly, Sepetys also has a deep love for a lot of Russian female writers due to the unique experiences they share in their works. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya was a name she highlighted and one she described as “an incredible, incredible writer”. Finally she invited a writer from Belarus, Svetlana Alexievich, who wrote The Unwomanly Face of War to her dinner party. She wrote about the female experience during war, which sounds right up Sepetys’ street, as that is an underrepresented area of history.

For my second question, I created an imaginative scenario. I asked Sepetys if she could travel to any historical period, what would it be and why? The only catch was that she could only visit one place and only for one day. Her answer could not have been more emotive, important, and heart-warming. If you are not familiar with Ruta Sepetys, she is Lithuanian-American. Her father fled from Lithuania during the second world war and the answer Sepetys gave to my question was very much in honour of her father and her heritage.

“I would visit June of 1940 in Kaunas, Lithuania when my father was forced to flee and told he was on the execution list.”

– Ruta Sepetys

Sepetys determined to visit Kaunas, Lithuania, which is her father’s hometown. She said that she would choose the day her father discovered that he was on the execution list and had to flee the place he had always known. Although that was an extremely difficult period in time, Sepetys wanted to visit to assist her father today. She explained that whilst her father vividly remembers the years that came after, including his time spent in refugee camps, the moment that sparked everything has since faded in his memory. She described how her father remembers very little of the day and how he has so many questions that might never be answered. Ruta Sepetys talked about how she “would love to be able to fill in the blanks of his story for him”.

I was so honoured that Sepetys chose to be so open in sharing this history with us and I think that is what makes her such a valuable writer to our time. She doesn’t just re-write historical events, she forms deep connections to the periods and shows us history as readers have never understood it before. In Between Shades of Grey it is her family connection that ties her to the story. In The Fountains of Silence her connection comes through her protagonist, Daniel, and the Spanish students who decided that she would be the perfect person to share their past with the world. In the talk, she also shared that part of her research process is physically travelling to the place her story takes place. In other words, Sepetys is as dedicated to research as she is to the creative craft of writing.

Ruta Sepetys and her works have been rightfully praised and awarded (The Fountains of Silence has even been recently shortlisted for the Carnegie award!). She has spoken in the European Parliament, NATO, the U.S. Capitol, and more. She is an inspiring figure and I am so happy to have been able to spend some time in her presence (even virtually!). I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it. Thanks so much to Ruta Sepetys, and to Nina Douglas who sent me a copy of The Fountains of Silence and invited me to this wonderful event.

Wrap Up

Wrap Up | July 2020

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well!

I’m so sorry that I haven’t uploaded a new post in a couple of weeks. I haven’t been reading as much, which has impacted my desire to blog, unfortunately. Hopefully, the break has helped and I can blog more often again!

Today, I thought I would share the books that I did manage to read in July. I read three books, which is a lot less than what I’ve been reading during the pandemic so far, and more in line with the amount I read during my normal schedule. I do feel like I’m in a reading slump, which I really hope will go away in August.


Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Continue reading “Wrap Up | July 2020”

Review

Book Review: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Welcome back to my blog, You Need to Read These Books. Today, I have a review of a YA contemporary novel, Lucky Caller. I found this to be a very fun, difficult to put down novel. It follows Nina, as she becomes the producer on a High School radio show. The show becomes a legitimate station over the course of the novel, which was entirely unexpected. As always, I will include the Goodreads synopsis, before we delve into my spoiler free review.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster. Continue reading “Book Review: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills”

To Be Read

5 Books by Black Authors That I Need to Read Right Now

Hi everyone! I hope you’re keeping safe and well.

Today, I really wanted to highlight some wonderful Black voices in YA literature, so I decided to compose a list of some books by Black authors that I’m really excited for. I hope you’ve read some of these books, or that they’re on your TBR!

1. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas Continue reading “5 Books by Black Authors That I Need to Read Right Now”

Review

Book Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

I have another book review today. I am going to be reviewing Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, which has been on my TBR for the longest time. It is a historical fantasy that takes place in 1600s England, and follows an attempt to assassinate the King. It’s protagonist is Thomas Fawkes, son of Guy Fawkes, a historical figure who was involved in the real plot. I’ll include the Goodreads synopsis however, as it will give you a little more insight.

This review will be completely spoiler free, so don’t worry about that!

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: 

Continue reading “Book Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes”

Tag

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

We are half-way through the wonderful (note the sarcasm) year that is 2020. It’s the time of year, where readers everywhere are taking part in the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag. I have done so many tags recently, but sure, what’s one more?

My reading year has been great so far! I’ve read 43 books, which is a new record for me at this stage in the year. It seems strange to say, but Coronavirus has actually helped me increase my reading.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020? Continue reading “Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag”

Wrap Up

Wrap Up| June 2020

Welcome to my June Wrap Up! I had another lovely month of reading. I read six books and three graphic novels. I did enjoy most of what I read in June, but a few also let me down.

1. Heartstopper (Volume one to three) by Alice Oseman

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis: Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
Continue reading “Wrap Up| June 2020”

Review

Book Review: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well!

Today, I have a review of Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez. I was so excited to read this book when I heard about it and it didn’t disappoint. It sounded like it would be a different fantasy read, which it was and I really did enjoy it.

Goodreads Synopsis: A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an Continue reading “Book Review: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez”

Tag

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all keeping well.

Firstly, I want to say thank you to Meg (A Little Shelf-Righteous) for nominating me for The Sunshine Blogger Award! It absolutely made my day.


What is the Sunshine Blogger award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work? Continue reading “The Sunshine Blogger Award”