Monday, February 23, 2009


11] If SMOKE is made into a movie who would you suggest to play the parts of Hannah and Boris?

For Hannah, I like Carice van Houten (from Black Book), Naomi Watts (from The Painted Veil and King Kong), or Jodie Foster. I see Sebastian Koch, also from Black Book and The Lives of Others as Boris.

12] Many historical novels seem awkward because the dialogue seems too modern. In contrast the dialogue in SMOKE is very evocative of the era did you do anything special to achieve this accuracy?

I'm glad you liked the dialogue, thank you! I read many diaries written during the time the book was set to hear the voices and the language. I also read newspapers from the time to see what people were interested in, what jokes they thought were funny, what fashions they were wearing, etc.

If I couldn't get a line correct, I sometimes translated it into German and back into English. Painstaking, but effective. I am very meticulous with my dialogue and do numerous rewrites to make sure that each character's voice is distinctive.

13] The symbolism of the handkerchiefs of various kinds where did that idea come from?

Thank you for noticing! You are the first person to comment on it.

In the original version, I had sections written in Ernst Vogel's voice. I warned the reader that these sections were coming by having someone pull out one of his red silk handkerchiefs. Later, when I took these sections out, I liked the idea of pulling the reader visually back to him with the symbol of the handkerchief, because a character is touching something he touched. I can't say more without a spoiler.

The other handkerchiefs were chosen as character details, for example, Rudolf's lace trimmed handkerchief barely keeping the blood off his hands. 

14] Do you think that using a real historical figure like Ernst rohm was important to the story? Hannah seems even to express admiration for Rohm at one point.

Using a real figure adds a sense of verisimilitude to the book. I've received comments like "A gay man could not have climbed so high in the Nazi hierarchy". Yet, that one did.
I don't think Hannah admires Ernst Rohm, but she respects him. 
He was a very powerful, very dangerous man. Unlike many of the other Nazis, however, he also followed a strict warrior code. While the code itself might not have always been laudable, at least it was predictable, so I think she knew that she could trust him to keep his word and to behave in a predictable manner under certain circumstances. 

15] The good news is that there will be another Hannah Vogel book out in 2010 and from the title A Night of Long Knives I am assuming Ernst Rohm will be back, but will the "brave" Anton and handsome Boris feature again?

Thank you! I am quite happy that Hannah's getting at least one more book.

Ernst Rohm will be back, although anyone who knows the history knows it won't end well for him. Other characters from the first book will reappear as well, including Anton and Boris. 1934 was a much darker time, so even the characters that do reappear are changed.

I've also added more historical characters to the second book: Theodor Eicke (creator of the concentration camp system), Bella Fromm (Jewish aristocrat and journalist who helped others to flee), Sefton Delmer (British newsman and spy), and Hitler himself appears in a few scenes.

Thanks again Rebecca. Good luck with the book [which is published in May] it certainly deserves to be a great success.

Thank you for your insightful questions, and your kind words. My fingers are crossed(or, as they say in German, I'm pushing on my thumbs). 

I will be running a competition to win a signed copy of A Trace of Smoke next month.

The first three parts of this interview can be read here, here, and here; the review of A Trace of Smoke is here.  


Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

check to see if comments work.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what a fascinating in-depth interview - thanks very much for giving us all the chance to find out more about this book and Rebecca's research and methodology. I'm very much looking forward to reading it, and the sequel (can't wait to see how Sefton Delmer comes in).

1:25 AM  

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