Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Interview With Author Kertu Iise Priegel

1.      What inspired you write this book? Quiet Woods is a book I had felt I needed to write for a long time. It is inspired by the story of my parents fleeing Soviet soldiers during the Communist occupation of Estonia. After spending five years in a German refugee camp, they were able to come to America where I was the first in my family to be born. I follow up my parent’s story with a coming-of-age story of a group of first-generation American children trying to assimilate in a new culture while parents hold onto old customs and the cultural conflict becomes real. any of the childhood adventures are from my own background, but I combined it with a fictional story of a forty-year-old unsolved murder.  

2.      What exactly is it about and who is it written for? I will start with the second part of this question. It is written for mystery story readers and those reading WWII history. It conveys the experiences of families that lived through Soviet and Nazi repression and how their lives were shaped by it. And their children, later born in America, who lacked the personal experiences of war, but whose childhood was overshadowed by it. Parents, permanently scarred by the brutal events, hold tight to old familiar customs and traditions from their homeland that clash with their children trying to assimilate to a new culture.

It is about Kersti, who is perusing a used bookstore and finds a book written by a childhood friend she has not seen or talk to in over forty years. Glancing through it, she is surprised to recognize one of the characters as herself. Further reading proves all the characters to be the children she grew up and played with. They were all first-generation Americans, like Kersti, whose families were forced to flee their homeland when the Soviet occupation of Estonia and other Baltic countries began.

The circle of friends was shattered when Lena, Heino’s lifelong crush, disappeared and her father was murdered. He alludes to having information about both in his book.

Now they are each in their sixties, but the murder is still unsolved. Sadness comes over Kersti, knowing Lena’s family never had the closure they needed. She always feared that Heino’s infatuation with Lena led him to take drastic measures when he learned of the abuse toward her in her family. Raw memories of that time resurface for Kersti – Lena was never seen again.

She is puzzled to read that Heino thinks he saved Lena. Curiosity and memories ignite Kersti’s commitment to find answers about what happened to Lena and her father.  

3.      What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? I always enjoy reading books that I can learn from especially WWII historical fiction. I have written specifically about Estonian history and the affects of the war, not only on the people that lived through it, but how it affected the lives of their children.  

4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? Quiet Woods is the name of the community that the children grew up in. It remains constant in their lives and in the end, the mystery is solved there. I wanted the cover design to draw the reader down the dirt path into a mystery filled wood. 

5.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!? Write down thoughts as they come to you without considering sentence structure or grammar. Then rewrite your thoughts repeatedly, correcting and improving it a little each time.  

6.      What trends in the book world do you see – and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Demand for eBooks and audiobooks keep growing, but hopefully will not eliminate print books for people like me who prefer turning pages and measuring our reading with bookmarks.  

7.      Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? Yes, many of the experiences were my own. I was an avid bike rider and detailed some of my favorite rides in the book. My protagonist, Kersti, drove cross country and lived in California approximately six months and had similar experiences as my own, whereas I lived there approximately six years and met my husband there. I came back to Maryland as a young widow with two small children, but I gave my character a long happy marriage.  

8.      How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? I would describe my writing style as sharing information in the context of a story. When I have determined where I want to go with the story, I try to imagine and describe a settling and get to know the characters that will be a part of it. I got hooked on earlier books written by Jodi Picoult and was impressed how each of her characters shared their individual view. The twists in the plot and surprise endings were what I wanted to also achieve.  

9.      What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? As a first-time author, I struggled with the timeline. I wanted to add historical facts into the book, so I included them as a part of the book that another character wrote.  

10.   If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? You can probably read it in less than a week as it is 264 pages and easy reading. People who have read my book have said it was hard to put down and they were very surprised at the ending.

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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