Interview with Jennifer Nielsen, author of A Night Divided

Can you tell us a little about your latest novel?a night divided 

My most recent release is A NIGHT DIVIDED (Scholastic, 8/25/15), a historical middle grade book about a girl named Gerta Lowe, whose family is divided on the night the Berlin Wall goes up, and what she will attempt in order to reunite them. It is based on actual events, very dangerous, and there is no guarantee that everyone involved in this attempt will survive.

Is it a standalone book or part of a series?

This is a standalone book, and actually the first standalone I’ve ever released. But for this one, I figured either Gerta gets out or she doesn’t. Either she survives, or she doesn’t. So a sequel didn’t make much sense!

Who inspired your main character?

Gerta is very much her own character. However, the foundation for her story began with me hearing about a family friend named Ilona, who had been born in East Germany after it had come under the control of Communist Russia. Ilona’s family knew they had to get out, but it was too dangerous for them all to attempt a border crossing together, especially since Ilona was only five. So while the parents crossed the border, they sent Ilona with her West German grandparents to cross by train. Ilona had to be put to sleep and hidden under a haystack for the journey – her grandparents knew their train would be searched at the border. The consequences for Ilona even rolling over in the moment of their train being searched could have been severe.

Ilona and her family all made it out, but so many great people remained trapped behind the Berlin Wall for its twenty-eight year existence. This book is for them.

Are you a plotter or do you just write whatever is in your head?

I used to be one to write as the story came into my head, but as it turns out, my editor has this thing about wanting to know what I’m planning to write before she commits to the next project. So that’s forced me to become better at plotting. I never feel bound to my outline – they change all the time as I write, but knowing where I’m going in a story has made me a better writer, personally.

Do you require silence when writing or do you need background noise?

I definitely have to write in silence. That’s how I immerse myself in that world. That said, I often work on my outlines with background music – if the music helps bring me into the world. And if I can edit with some background noise, then I know I’m really going to love the story.

Are you writing your next book?

Always! Right now, I’m doing edits for a standalone book to be released next fall, called THE SCOURGE, finalizing my outline to start writing the final book in my MARK OF THE THIEF trilogy, and working with my editor on a proposal for the next series. So, you know…another day in the life of an author, right?
Bio: jennifer nielsen
Jennifer Nielsen is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Ascendance Trilogy and the MARK FO THE THIEF series. She lives in Northern Utah with her husband, three kids, and a dog that won’t play fetch.
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