“I didn’t set out to write a love story when I began the research for ‘The Lost Wife,’” Richman shared. “I wanted to write a novel about how an artist survived during the Holocaust, how her spirit to create could never be taken away from her, no matter how dark her circumstances were. What happened as I was writing the story, however, was that the love between the characters — Lenka’s relationship with Josef, with her parents, with her sister and later her friends in the camp, too — couldn’t be exterminated, either. ‘The Lost Wife’ is a testament to how our need to love cannot be broken.”
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Richman said she has been interviewed by the Israeli media and has heard from many Holocaust survivors, as well as their children.
“There is a tremendous amount of gratitude from the Jewish community,” she said.
“Although the novel is historical fiction,” she added, “many of the characters are true-life people who worked as artists in Terezin (a concentration camp where where art workshops were kept going for the Nazi propaganda machine). In the author’s note of the book, you learn who really worked and created art and music within the camp.”
Because she does a lot of historical research and travel, Richman said it takes her close to three years to complete each of her novels.
Working on “The Lost Wife,” for instance, she traveled to Prague to interview survivors of Terezin, some of whom were the artists who worked here. She made numerous trips to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where she listened to oral histories in the video library. She interviewed concentration camp survivors now living in the United States. Making this book, she said, was a very emotional experience.
Richman is looking forward to the book signing at Turn the Page and noted this will be the first time she has met Nora Roberts.
“I’m terribly excited,” she admitted. “It’s extremely generous and supportive of her to create signings that profile other authors. She’s shining a little light on us, and I know I’m so grateful for it.”
Meeting her readers one-on-one is something Richman said she enjoys.
“I went on a large book tour for ‘The Lost Wife’ and it was wonderful to get so much support and feedback from my readers,” she said. “I think every writer, except Nora, of course, wonders while at the computer, ‘is anyone actually going to read all this’? It’s so much work, done completely in solitude, and it’s easy to feel like it’s done purely for art’s sake.”
She tries to write every day, Richman said, and with two young children she typically writes when they’re in school.
“This is the first year that they have the same schedule, so from the moment they get on the bus, I try and get to the computer,” she shared.
Richman is currently working on her fifth novel, “Dragonfly,” the story of a cellist in the Italian Resistance during World War II who sends coded messages through her music.
“It’s out in the fall of 2014, so I hope my readers will go back and read my other books while they wait for this one to come out,” she said.
If you go ...
WHAT: Book signing
WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23
WHERE: Turn the Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St., Boonsboro
COST: Free. Tickets will be passed out beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday for your place in line. Only one ticket per person present.
CONTACT: Go to www.ttp books.com. For more information about Alyson Richman and her books, go to www.alysonrichman.com