Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Sepetys #BIR2011

Welcome back Author Ruta Sepetys!  Between Shades of Gray was one of my favorite reads of 2011.  I’m thrilled to be featuring Ruta & her book as part of BIR2011.


Born and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. The nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps in 1941 and did not reappear until 1990. As this is a story seldom told, Ruta wanted to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during Stalin’s cleansing of the Baltic region.
Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee. Between Shades of Gray is her first novel. 

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

RS – I would go back to the past, take my college economics course and try to improve my grade!

What is one book everyone should read?
RS – “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl 

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
RS – Health restoration for sick children.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
RS – Coffee. 

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
RS – Brownies. I know, horrible, but it’s true.

Night owl, or early bird?
RS – I guess I’m a combo – an Early Owl. If I’m writing I’m up early, but if I’m working on projects for my day job I often have to stay up very late.

Skittles or M&Ms?
RS – M&M’s. Fistfuls of them!!

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
RS – I read “James and the Giant Peach” as a child and was inspired to try to write my own sequel for the book because I wanted to continue on with the characters.  

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
RS – There have been many, but one of the highlights has been hearing from people who lived in the refugee camps with my father in the 1940’s. They read the book, recognized my last name and contacted me saying that they knew my father as a little boy in the camp. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
RS – Don’t be afraid to change gears, abandon a project, or work on something else. Initially I wrote a middle-grade novel. I had some requests for the manuscript from editors, but at an agent’s suggestion I shelved it and wrote “Between Shades of Gray” instead. I’m so glad I did!

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
RS – I once attended a workshop with Walter Dean Myers. He advised us to eliminate “the pause.” He suggested we sit down and just plow into writing, no pausing or over thinking. He said we can always revise later. 

Favorite Food?

RS – Brownies…for breakfast!

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
RS – Two books – “Small Damages” by Beth Kephart and “Bridge of Scarlet Leaves” by Kristina McMorris


RS – Greasy Bag. When I was a little girl I loved going to the Cider Mill for plain cake donuts. I’d skip around with the sack and the grease from the donuts would soak through the paper bag. So I was called the “Greasy bag of donuts girl.” 

What is your guilty pleasure?
RS – Reading magazines. It’s such a treat for me to sit down and read a magazine!

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?

RS – Truman Capote, wow, what an experience that would be!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Content: I would say this is a clean read for an adult and older teens. There are some very horrific things that happen that might be hard for younger teens to read.

Giveaway Details:
1 copy of Between Shades of Gray + some goodies from the author
Open to US only
Ends 12/31/11

Optional Extra Entry
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