Marla’s Interview with Ruta

Last month, I had the pleasure of taking part of the Between Shades of Gray Online Book Tour that Hannah was awesome enough to put together.  For my stop, I was able to feature an interview with Ruta.  Below is a re-post of that interview, complete with the pictures Ruta included with her answers.

Marla: My first question is: What has been the most memorable reaction to Between Shades of Gray?

Ruta: There have been so many memorable moments along the journey of this book. But one that really moved me was walking into a school in Chicago and seeing the following sign made by a student.

This sign was created as if one of the main characters, Andrius, was writing a note to his girlfriend, Lina. My book is about a little-known piece of history and sometimes historical facts and statistics can seem sterile. But through stories, suddenly these people from history become human. We cheer for them and we cry for them. We care for people that we’ve never met and become passionate about the history attached. That’s what this sign represented.  And that’s the power of books.
Marla: How did you feel upon initially learning about this part of history for the first time?
Ruta: I was shocked. I had no idea that so many people had experienced the deportations and life in exile. And many people kept their experience a secret for over fifty years. Can you imagine keeping a painful secret for fifty years?
Marla: What was your first trip to Lithuania after the book’s release like?
Ruta: Incredibly emotional. I was able to reunite with the people who assisted me in my research and present the book to them. They were so gracious and happy. I was in tears practically the entire time I was back in Lithuania.  Every time I see the cover of the Lithuanian version of the book I get choked up!
Marla: What was your inspiration for writing Between Shades of Gray?
Ruta: While visiting Lithuania, I discovered that after my father fled the country, some of my family members were deported to Siberia. Stories of Soviet occupation and Stalin are rarely discussed. There are so many heroes we’ve never had a chance to meet. They’re nameless and faceless. I wanted to give voice to the many people who were deported to Siberia by Stalin.
Marla: What are you working on now?  When can we expect your next book?
Ruta: I just finished a novel that’s set in New Orleans in 1950. It tells the story of a girl who is the daughter of a French Quarter prostitute. Despite her background and society’s opinion of her, the girl applies to a prestigious college. It’s a story of the courage and fortitude it takes to fly when you’re born with broken wings. I believe the book is scheduled to be released in Spring of 2013.
Marla: At Southern Festival of Books, you told the audience about an immersion experience that you participated in that took place in a prison. What impression did that experience leave upon you?
Ruta: It left a profound impression. In the prison I learned that showing kindess in an atmosphere of cruelty is true courage.
Marla: As a writer, how do you deal with issues such as writer’s block and distractions?
Ruta:Because I work a full time job I can’t really afford to have writer’s block. Sometimes I only have fifteen minutes to write per day so I have to make the most of it. I force myself to just start typing–something, anything–to get started. I gave up television a few years ago. Since I don’t have much time to write I can’t justify spending thirty minutes watching TV. Distractions are another story. Tumblr, Pinterest, Etsy, oh my! But in terms of productive and fun distractions – I can’t wait to catch up with you and talk books at my favorite coffee shop next time I’m in the Square, Marla!Thank you so much for having me here at Starting the Next Chapter!


If you want to check out the original post in its entirety, including links to all stops on the tour, click the following link:


Ruta to Appear at ABA Author Luncheon & Reception

Last month, you may recall that Hannah posted about Between Shades of Gray being selected as the Young Adult Book of the Year in the 2012 Indies Choice Awards.  Ruta will be receiving her award at the Celebration of Bookselling Luncheon at Book Expo America on June 5, 2012!

Immediately following the luncheon will be the Indies Choice Book Award Author Reception where Ruta will be signing, along with authors such as John Green (The Fault in Our Stars; Looking for Alaska), Maile Meloy (The Apothecary), Marie Lu (Legend), and Joe Schreiber (Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick).  For a full list of authors and more details about the event, click the following link: ABA Booksellers Lounge to Feature Author Reception

Ruta on NPR’s All Things Considered!

ImageYesterday, Ruta appeared on All Things Considered to talk further about the mix-up between her book, Between Shades of Gray, and E.L. James’s erotic story entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.  Click the following link to read Ruta’s words on the subject and to listen to her radio appearance: Two Gray Titles, One Sexy Mix-Up

Kudos to Ruta for being such a good sport.  As more and more people learn the difference, more and more people will discover this wonderful, poignant novel!