Wednesday, April 15, 2015

FFBC Blog Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Anne Blankman)

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2)
by Anne Blankman
416 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 21st 2015

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.
But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.
Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

One day I was reading an excellent social history of Berlin when I came across a snippet about a real-life still unsolved homicide. On New Year’s Eve in 1932, a young seamstress was walking home from her bus stop when a man wearing a Nazi uniform bicycled toward her. Without warning, he pulled out a pistol, shouted, “Heil, Hitler!” and shot her in the head. She was dead before she hit the ground. As passersby watched in horror, the man bicycled around the corner and disappeared from sight. 

The killer was never identified. The homicide case’s file has moldered into dust; a heartbreaking, random stranger-on-stranger crime. 

As I reread the passage, though, I started wondering if the murder only looked like a bizarre unprovoked crime. What if the murderer had had a secret motive for eliminating her?

And then I felt it. The breathless, shivery feeling of anticipation, the signal that this story is meant for me. All at once, I knew I had the beginnings of the murder plot for Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.

 Who is your favorite character in the book?

This may sound strange, but I don’t have favorite characters! It’s too easy to fall in love with your own creations—to the point that you don’t let them make mistakes or make sacrifices or even act like a jerk sometimes. 

For both Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke and its prequel, Prisoner of Night and Fog, though, I found myself fascinated by two of their real-life characters. Fritz Gerlich was a brave anti-Nazi journalist—and, according to some sources, he was the man whom Hitler despised more than anyone else in Munich. Ernst Gennat was the head of the Metropolitan Berlin Police Force’s homicide divison. He was a brilliant detective who revolutionized forensic science and who solved almost 300 murders. Both men captivated me. Just thinking about Gerlich still pulls a lump into my throat!

 Which came first, the title or the novel?

For me, I usually like to have the title in mind before I start writing. That said, the first book, Prisoner of Night and Fog, was originally called Night’s Edge. When my editor and I were working on revisions, she suggested coming up with a title that sounded more evocative of the time period. After tossing around ideas for a few days, we settled on the Nazi phrase “Night and Fog”.

For the second book, we knew we wanted a title similar in sound and feel to the first book’s. I came up with the phrase “blood and smoke,” but for some reason I was stumped on what the first word in the title should be! It was my editor and her assistant who suggested “conspiracy,” and as soon as I heard it, I loved it.

 What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

Oooh, I love this question! The last scene was incredibly hard to write—I’ve lost count of how many revisions it went through, but it was a lot—and now I’m so happy with how it turned out. I got Gretchen and Daniel to the point that I wanted them to reach. 

 Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

Be fearless. Don’t be afraid to tell the story that sets your mind on fire. 

 What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love how much more mature the cover model looks in CONSPIRACY than she does in PRISONER. You can really see the character’s growth from the first book to the second. (And it’s not surprising that the model looks older—in a funny coincidence, about a year and half elapsed between the cover shoots, which is the same amount of time that passes between the end of Prisoner of Night and Fog and the beginning of its sequel!)

 What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015?

I’m excited to read Kimberly Griffiths Little’s sequel to Forbidden, which is a YA historical romance set in ancient Mesopotamia.

 What was your favorite book in 2014?

There were too many wonderful books to pick a favorite! But I especially enjoyed Kat Rosenfield’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (I think it came out in 2012, but I didn’t read it until last year, so I guess that counts!). A gripping murder mystery, gorgeous prose, and beautifully delineated characters—it doesn’t get much better than that.

 What’s up next for you?

My next book is a YA romantic historical adventure set in seventeenth century England. It comes out in April 2016 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, and it’s very different from the PRISONER books—it’s a lot of fun and much more lighthearted. I loved writing it, and I can’t wait to share it with readers! 

 Is there anything that you would like to add?

Thanks so much for having me, Beth!

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Follow the Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.
After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.
Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

US Only | Giveaway ends: April 22nd, 2015

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