An Interview with Saving Gerda Author Lilian Darcy

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We interrupt our June Wedding Blitz for a previously scheduled engagement. Please welcome to the blog today my guest author Lilian Darcy.

cover of Saving Gerda

An Interview with Lilian Darcy, author of Saving Gerda

 Q. I love the almost fairytale lyricism of saying that Gerda is descended from swans. What is your favorite fairy tale, and why? Has it changed since you were a child and learned the tales of Cinderella and Snow White through Disney eyes?

The thing is, I never did learn those fairy tales through Disney. My parents weren’t… how can I put this… big fans of the Disney approach, and we didn’t even have TV until I was ten or so. I disappeared into books, instead, and we had several volumes of classic fairy tales by Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, as well as the more modern ones by Oscar Wilde. All of these are a lot darker than the Disney versions, and the books came illustrated with incredibly detailed and evocative pictures by people like Arthur Rackham. (see one of his illustrations for Hansel and Gretel ).

The tales and the illustrations form a great big blob of memories and impressions inside me, but if I do have any favorites they would have to be the ones with swans in them. Any story involving swans always seems to be packed full of symbolism and hope. The influence of fairy tales when I was writing Saving Gerda was strong, but very much about background color and texture.

Q. When you did your research for Saving Gerda, did any real details demand to be fitted into Kitty and Gerda’s story?

I did so much research for this story! I must have read a hundred books, ranging from novels to serious works of history. Much of what I read were memoirs by a wide range of ordinary people who had lived through the Nazi era, Jews and non-Jews, rich and poor, German and non-German, supporters of the regime and people who rebelled against it. Even though Saving Gerda is completely fictional, it’s as true as I could make it in terms of the small details of life, and the emotional truth of the characters. Kristallnacht is the major historical event that occurs in the novel, and all the detail I’ve used about that – for example, the drifts of feathers from Nazi thugs tearing open feather pillows and quilts in Jewish homes – comes from research. Photos of shattered shop windows and burning synagogues were very much in my mind when I was writing. (See examples :

3. Where is your favorite spot to write your draft? Do your revisions?

For a major book like this, which took me several years on and off, I write my first drafts all over the place, in hand-written notebooks. My absolutely favorite thing when I have a complete and polished draft that I want to revise one final time, is to go away somewhere totally on my own. My mother’s place when she is away works really well! It is quiet and there are no interruptions, I’m not constantly surrounded by the clamoring voices of all the tasks I have to do at home. You may know those voices. “Clean me!” “Tidy me!” “File me!” I can eat while I work, spend as long as I want, go for a walk without it taking away my focus. I’ve just done this for another book and I wish I’d had four nights for it instead of two.

This picture is of one of the rock shelves near my mother’s house. There are beautiful sandy beaches, too, and I love to walk along those, but sitting on the rocks and watching the waves is a great place to mull over stories and characters.

4. What do you hope readers take away after reading Saving Gerda?

First of all, I hope they devour it in a couple of sittings because they can’t put it down. That’s been the reaction of the friends I’ve sent it to. One friend said, “I didn’t have time to read a book… prewar stories are not where I’d go for entertainment… and, well. You got me. Right between the eyes. It drew me in, made me long to get back to it… My eyes are filling up as I type this.”I would so love for all readers to react this way! When I’m reading, it’s what I most often want in a book. Something that keeps me turning the pages because I love the characters and the story and I can’t wait to find out what happens, but also something that leaves me uplifted and fulfilled and with things to think about so that the book stays with me.

If Saving Gerda can be a book like this for readers, I will be so happy!  You can purchase Saving Gerda and Lilian’s other ebook releases by linking to all major ebook outlets through You can find her at and on Facebook and Twitter (@liliandarcy)

More about Lilian

Lilian Darcy has written over eighty books for Harlequin, with her McKinley Medics trilogy out now in Harlequin Special Edition. She also publishes women’s fiction, chick lit and mainstream in ebook. Whether straight romance or something else, all her books feature strong characters, strong emotion and complex relationships. When she’s not writing, Lilian loves the outdoors, in her garden, on a hiking trail or at competitive equestrian events. If it’s raining, she likes cooking and music.



About Kelly McClymer

Kelly is a writer, a mom, and a reading tutor for children with dyslexia. Plus, she is totally addicted to her iPad. Curse you, Steve Jobs.

5 replies
  1. Teri Brown
    Teri Brown says:

    Great interview and the book sounds wonderful. I took my children to hear a survivor of Kristallnacht talk when they were younger. Horrifying what humans can do to one another.

  2. Lilian Darcy
    Lilian Darcy says:

    It is horrifying, isn’t it, Teri? Saving Gerda doesn’t put that really dark, evil stuff at centre stage very much, and it ends eight months before the outbreak of war. It’s a small story of hope, in many ways.

    I would really hate for people to be put off this book because they think it’s going to be bleak, because it isn’t. In Kitty’s life, good wins over bad, even though this happens against the much darker backdrop.

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