Monday, July 25, 2011

Sarah's Key--the author comments on questions, including mine

Inside TWC > TWC Insider > Interview with SARAH’S KEY author Tatiana de Rosnay
Interview with SARAH’S KEY author Tatiana de Rosnay
Share POSTED July 22, 2011

Facebook fans asked the questions, and SARAH’S KEY author TATIANA DE ROSNAY answered the Top Ten! We sent Tatiana a selection of the questions you sent in and today we’re pleased to tell you we finally have our responses! Read her answers below! We thank Tatiana for her time and we thank you all for participating – stay connected with us on Facebook for more Q&As in the near future!
Tara Kluth: Why do we not hear from Sarah’s voice after she finds her brother?Because I want my readers to miss Sarah, to worry about her, to wonder what happened to her…That’s why we “lose” her voice half way through the book, until Julia finds out what happened to Sarah.
Mariam Siddiqui: What has sparked your interest in creating this story in this designated time period and the terrible events surrounding it? This is an event that goes unheard of in our history textbooks, yet you decided to search for the story beneath the story. What inspired you to do so?I wrote this book ten years ago. I have always been interested by how walls can talk. One of my novels (La Mémoire des Murs, the Memory of Walls) describes the rue Nélaton. That is where the Vél d’Hiv roundup took place on July 16th 1942. I realized I didn’t know the exact details of what happened that day. I was not taught about this event at school, during the 70’s. It seemed to be shrouded by taboo. So I started researching. I was appalled by what I discovered concerning the roundup, about what happened to those 4000 Jewish children, and I knew I had to write about it. And that’s how I imagined Julia’s story taking place today, linked to Sarah’s, back in the 40’s. Through Julia’s modern story, I could reveal the taboos and scars the Vel d’Hiv left in France, 60 years later.
Olivetta Conklin Chavez: I kept hoping against hope that Sarah’s brother would have been discovered and taken in by the new family. Had you considered this as an alternative or did you always know how you would write about him?I did not choose to sugarcoat my story, I knew it would not be an easy one to write. I felt it from the start. Sarah’s tragedy and the “key” to that tragedy is that she doesn’t make it back on time. She will carry that tragedy all her life.
Laura Metz: I have to turn your book around on the shelf (because the images haunt my mind) so how after all of your research can you rest? Is there justice, peace, or do you continue to be fueled by frustration and anger because of the ‘cover up’?I wrote this book ten years ago and have written several books since. So I guess I feel calmer about the subject now then I used to when I was writing it. No frustration, no anger. But a scar in my heart, for ever, when I think of the Vel d’Hiv children.
Olivetta Conklin Chavez: I’ve been to Paris though never knew the French police cooperated with the Nazis against their own citizens. How did you summon the incredible strength to write about your own people in such a profound way, casting the French in a bad light? July 16 brings new meaning for me now.I don’t think all the French come out in such a bad light, as Sarah is saved by the Dufaure’s. She is also helped by the policeman in the camp and the one in the train. I wanted to show how some people collaborated, and others didn’t.And what would we have done, had we been there ?
Gale Smetana: How much of SARAH’S KEY is based on actual history/biography? I know the roundup happened, but is Sarah a composite character?All the parts concerning 1942 are historically accurate. I read everything I could concerning the round-up. I went to Beaune la Rolande and Drancy, several times. I met Vel d’Hiv survivors, unforgettable moments. Otherwise Julia’s story (and marriage !) is not mine and Sarah is also an invented character, but many of my readers are convinced she existed.
Sarah Lipman Goe: What has been the French reaction to your book? Was there any backlash? Or has it been a catalyst for any change/recognition of those events?This book has been widely read in France, by all generations. When SARAH’S KEY came out in France in 2007, I was anxious about how the French Jewish community would react. How would they feel about a non-Jewish woman bringing back this highly sensitive part of France’s past ? And then, more and more moving letters and emails arrived. I met Vel d’Hiv survivors who had read the book. Arlette, 77, and Suzy, 83. They have become friends. When I look at these admirable women, I see the broken children they used to be. My book is now being read by French students in high-school.
Amanda Jones Meng: I kept up hope throughout the book that Julia and Sarah would eventually meet. Did you consider this or had you always planned the end of Sarah’s life?No, I knew that Sarah and Julia would never meet.. As I said above, I knew this was not going to be an easy story and I was not going to sugarcoat it. But what kept me going was that Julia was going to find William, Sarah’s son, and he knew nothing about his mother. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel.
Debra Braz: Once I started reading SARAH’S KEY, I did not want to stop until I had read the last page. Given the fact that this was not something the French wanted to be written in the history pages, how difficult and how much time did you spend doing the research before writing the book?Like many French people of my generation, born in the 60′s, I knew little about the round up’s details and in particular the extent of the responsibility of the French police, acting under Nazi orders. For two years, I read everything I could get my hands on concerning the round up. The more I read , the more horrified I became. The idea for SARAH’S KEY came to me by linking two stories. Sarah’s story, seen through the eyes of a little Parisian girl forced to wear a yellow star, whose life will change for ever in July 1942. Julia’s story, today, an American married to a French man, commissioned by her magazine to write about the Vel d’Hiv’s anniversary. I started to write SARAH’S KEY in a way I had never written anything before, with my heart, with my sorrow.
Rialyn Bawe: What is your most unforgettable experience as the author of SARAH’S KEY?Meeting Vel d’Hiv survivors, in France, and in the USA, in Chicago and Saint Louis, Missouri. I will never forget those moments. Sarah is in my heart, for ever. And when I met those survivors, it was like meeting Sarah, in real life.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Campfire at John Muir National Historic Site

Last night I went to a campfire all because I noticed a Transcript at BART with a notice about it beginning at 7:30. With weather topping at 93* in Concord the evening was lovely with three park rangers and eight of us visitors enjoying guitar, singalongs, stories, and readings of John Muir himself in a redwood grove near plum trees we were allowed to pick. I filled my hat with as many as it would hold. We roasted marshmallows and participated in short skits and were encouraged to offer insights into the man. What a lovely and unique setting and evening. Thank you John Muir. What a life. The Sequel: Friday, August 5, on a lovely, warm summer night I attended my second campfire and enjoyed it so much under a half moon. I gathered plums and fallen pears, enjoyed eating four s'mores, listened with 15 other guests to two guitars and a ukulele, singing, readings (a few were the same stories as before), group songs, and I even shared my experiences of driving with Mother and Rosella to Washington and Ontario twice, seeing the 48 states, being asked to beg for food and walking on the slippery shale at Erie, getting money at general delivery, and seeing the last two states in '08 and '09. I'm glad I attended and this time saw it advertised online in Transcript. I love summer in the East Bay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mixing Vacation and Religion


Yay! I'm published in Meridian Magazine. I first learned of this excellent online magazine years ago from Jackie who lives in Santa Rosa.

How to Celebrate Independence Day

It really started off my weekend to see the second San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Friday, then Saturday night I danced to Diamond Dave and really got my groove on. It was a blast. I saw The Singing Flag which is so inspiring, patriotic, spiritual and entertaining Sunday evening. By Independence Day I was ready for a full day of fun events and celebrations. I crashed another ward's breakfast at our building and helped out with the chairs and setting up. The flag-raising ceremony was awesome with a brother's message of his love for this country and our profound blessings because we live here. Breakfast was delicious. I spent two hours there and made it to the Clayton parade in the nick of time around 10 a.m. and was there one hour. It's pure Americana with mostly Clayton kids and families. I love the village of Clayton and the statue in the grove has a little girl wearing a CTR ring. From there I made it to the second hour of the Concord parade, fantastic horses and entertainment. I was there until 2 p.m. enjoying a church's choir and band performing standards and classics, danced a set with the performing square dancers and had a good time. By then I was ready for a swim and did laps for 30 minutes and played in the pool another 30 minutes. Knowing I wasn't going to BBQ for myself but having decided to make a potato salad I offered to pay for some BBQ from a family who refused my money and said to me, "God bless you." I returned the blessing and was on my way home. By this time I've spent 30 minutes driving, I cooked for 30 minutes, and watched Independence Day for two hours. Granted, I'd be happier watching it without any bad language. I made my lunch for work before A Capitol Fourth started which just seems to get better each and every year. I was most surprised by Little Richard still performing and was glad that with stormy weather the day before it was clear. That was an hour and a half. By this time I was ready to hang my flag lights, bring in Old Glory, and watch surrounding communities explode their fireworks from the sidewalk. My neighbors are always on their roof, a family tradition. I decline their invitation to climb a ladder and get up a slanted roof in the dark. But I appreciate the offer. So after about a dozen hours of fun I'm thinking I can fall asleep but bombs keep exploding until after midnight. Still, I am grateful for the day and past memories flood my mind of my family's celebrations together over the years. God bless America!