Blog tour: The Takeaway Men

Welcome to the blog tour for The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain! Thanks to the help of iRead Book Tours, today I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with the author of this new historical fiction novel. Ready? Let’s start…

Hi Meryl! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Takeaway Men! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you so much for your interest in my book. It’s a post Holocaust novel about twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski, who arrive in New York with their parents from a Displaced Persons Camp after World War II. In addition to adjusting to American culture in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as they grow they begin to wonder about the cloud of secrecy and sorrow that hangs over their parents. As they try to investigate and demand answers, they realize that their parents’ memories will be difficult and painful to uncover. The Takeaway Men explores the impact, not only of the Holocaust, but of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets and lies on both parents and children.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I knew what the bare outlines were. It was going to be about the impact of the parents’ secrets and traumas on their twin daughters. But as I wrote, I was surprised how the plot and characters took on lives of their own. For instance, the scene when a former Nazi delivers food to the twins’ birthday party was not anything that I could have planned for or anticipated. It came as a surprise to me!

What kind of research did you have to carry out for this novel? In general, is research a part of the writing process that you enjoy or is it simply a means to an end?

A: I love research and research was an integral part of writing this novel. First, let me say that I have been obsessed with the Holocaust ever since I read The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. Later, as a college student, grad student, history teacher, and curious researcher, I continued to learn about this horrific time in human history. It is not an exaggeration to say that I have been researching it for most of my life. And I found that no matter how much I researched, I had to research more. I believe that the more research, the better a work of historical fiction. I still read and watch everything I can find about the Holocaust and its aftermath.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Bronka and Johanna?

A: As teenagers, I would cast Kayla Madison for Bronka and McKenna Grace for Johanna. 

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: I love the scene where a Holocaust survivor, a police officer, and a news photographer confront a former Nazi in a delicatessen. I felt like the responses of the characters to the situation just wrote themselves.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: I actually intended to take the book well beyond the time period where it ended. I planned to cover the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and the impact of these turbulent times on the characters. But the book told me when it ended, and this was in 1962. Already, those who have read advance copies are asking me what happens to the characters going forward and whether I will write a sequel.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I hope to write another novel, but I am still deciding between writing something completely different or staying with the same characters.  

What are you reading at the moment?

A: Freedom Lessons by Eileen Sanchez, which is a novel about a teacher’s experience in Louisiana when schools were being desegregated in 1969-70. A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell, is non-fiction.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I spend much more time on social media than I would like to. And sometimes, it absolutely disrupts my schedule. I am on all of these platforms, but I think Facebook is best for my audience. So I spend the bulk of my online time there and merely check the others from time to time. I usually write best in the morning, so I will quickly check FB and then write for a few hours. Some days, I need to take a break from social media and don’t engage.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Believe in yourself and don’t ever give up your project. But also be open to constructive criticism. You don’t have to accept every suggestion, just take the advice that makes most sense to you. All books become better by editing.

Thank you for your time!


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