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Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is 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.
Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Ruta is passionate about the power of history and story to foster global dialogue and connectivity. She has been invited to present at NATO, European Parliament, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and Embassies worldwide. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Fellowship for her studies on human resilience. The New York Times Book Review declared, “Ruta Sepetys acts as champion of the interstitial people so often ignored—whole populations lost in the cracks of history.”
Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation. She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.
Ruta lives with her family in the hills of Tennessee.
Q: How do you pronounce your name?
You can hear me pronounce it HERE
Q: Will you write another story about Lina and Andrius?
Q: Why do you write historical fiction?
Q: What inspired you to write “Between Shades of Gray?”
Q: Why did you choose alternating POV's in writing "Salt to the Sea?"
Q: What sort of research did you do in writing “Between Shades of Gray?”
Q: How much of “Between Shades of Gray” is real?
Q: Why did you choose New Orleans as the setting for “Out of the Easy?”
Q: Why is the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff an unknown story to many?
When the ship sank, the Nazis tried to conceal the story (and the fact that they were losing the war.) The Soviet submarine commander who torpedoed the Gustloff was dishonorably discharged shortly after, so the Russians weren’t drawing attention to the story. And after the war, Germany didn’t publicize the sinking as they felt it was inappropriate to speak of their losses during the war considering the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Q: Are the characters in “Out of the Easy” real people?
Q: How did you research “Out of the Easy?”
Q: How do you create your characters?
Q: What is your writing process like?
Q: What sort of advice do you have for young writers?
1. If you’re writing for kids or young adults, join SCBWI and attend some of their conferences. www.scbwi.org
2. Consider joining a critique group. Having several people read your work and give you feedback can be very helpful. It’s also fun to share your creative journey with other writers.
3. Get your heart broken, thrown on the ground and stomped on a few times. Take a whirl at being an outcast, a total loser, or being publicly humiliated. Although painful at the time, it will provide great material for future books. For writers who are struggling to find inspiration, I suggest they think back on their own experiences of love, loss, joy and humiliation. Those triumphs and scars are part of our individual emotional truth and if we write about them—and through them—the work will have a feeling of authenticity.
4. Pay attention to the rhythm and melody of your writing. Read your manuscript aloud. If you stumble, revise.
5. Read. Good writers are great readers. Read hundreds of books. Seriously.