KARK CHANNEL 4
Cecelia Wilson | KARK Channel 4 | March 16, 2018
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A World War II survivor now living in Arkansas is telling her story in a new book penned by an Arkansas author.
"Back to Bremen" dives into the life and death decisions of a typical non-Jewish family in Nazi Germany.
"I just want them to realize what damage war can do. No war is good," says Edith Röpke Harris, who grew up in Nazi Germany. "It was hard."
KATV CHANNEL 7
Cecelia Wilson | KATV Channel 7 | April 29, 2017
Allison Whitehouse | Har-Ber High School
"...I met you when you came to Springdale Har-Ber High School to talk to our kids in August...After reading your book, I knew I had to tell you that I haven't been that engaged in a book in a long time. I knew getting to hear from the author and the person the story was about would intrigue me, but oh my goodness...I simply couldn't put the book down! Your writing is so amazing, I love how you flow ideas right through each other, the amazing descriptions of all the various types of scenes, capturing Edith's fear and emotions, I'm so in love with this book and your writing! I want to hug Edith just for sharing her story, so I do hope you will pass that along for me. What a brave girl and family, and even after reading the story I can't seem to imagine how I would have handled that journey. She is truly remarkable.
...I bought myself a copy of [Back to Bremen] and another one for my class library, and I can't seem to keep them in my classroom! I think every week since you have been here I have had at least one student asking if someone just finished the book so they can read it next. I haven't seen that type of excitement for a book that high schoolers actually want to read maybe ever. So I want to say thank you again for coming and talking to our students. You sparked so much curiosity in their reading lives and I am truly grateful for your words to them. I do hope you continue writing in the future so I can keep looking out for your name in bright lights.
Thank you again for your work on Back to Bremen. It is and you are phenomenal."
Har-Ber High School, Springdale, Arkansas
TO WELL WITH YOU
Suzy Taylor Oakley | To Well With You | November 14, 2017
That mindset, Marta’s humor amid challenging situations, and her fierce love and determination to see every family member safe, is at the heart of Back to Bremen, the true story told with heart and skill by Cecelia Wilson.
Most of the World War II books I’ve read are told from the perspective of the soldiers or the Jews or — in my favorite book of all time, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom — the families trying to save Jews from Hitler’s brutal Nazis.
In the case of Back to Bremen, the story is told from the perspective of a German girl whose family was thrust into the thick of it and remained …
Well, if I went any further I’d be giving away too much. (I hate spoilers. Don’t you?)
You’ll have to buy the book, read Edith and Marta’s story, then come back here (or, even better, visit the author’s website) and tell us what you thought of it.
I’m serious. Buy it. Read it. Share it.
TOO FULL TO WRITE
Too Full to Write | November 11, 2017
If your novel was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
For years I have firmly believed this story should be a movie! However, I’m not sure I would cast famous actors or actresses in the lead roles. Marta was a common woman who had no aspirations of becoming famous or being a hero. She simply wanted to raise her children to be happy, productive adults. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have a lesser-known actress play the role of Marta so there are no pre-conceived ideas by audiences on how she would be portrayed. It might make the characterization of this inspiring mother that much more surprising and real. I’m happy, though, if Spielberg disagrees with me!!
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
That’s actually something I’ve thought about often: I would have asked my grandparents more questions about their lives. How many stories did I miss because I didn’t realize there was such a wealth of history sitting across from me at the Christmas dinner table? Everyone has a story and writing it down for the next generation is the only way to preserve those stories.
TWO ENDS OF THE PEN
Debra L. Martin, David W. Small | Two Ends of the Pen | December 18, 2017
Do you have a favorite character?
I love Edith. She is one of the children in the book, my dear friend who is now in her eighties, and I tell the story through her voice as a child. But, her mother Marta is probably my favorite person in the story. She is just a common woman, but she finds an inner strength she probably never knew she had when she faces almost a decade alone to see her children safely through WWII. She is an excellent example that women don’t have to be superwomen to be powerful — they can come from humble beginnings and rise to great heights simply by finding the willpower to do what must be done in extraordinary circumstances.
Briefly describe your journey in writing your book.
I met Edith, whose childhood is the basis for the story, more than twenty years ago. After writing short magazine articles over the years about her childhood, we finally sat down a few years ago after her husband’s passing and I interviewed her to write the finer details down into a book. After months of interviews and research, and another year of searching for a publisher, I’m very honored that Back to Bremen is now available to the public.
TO READ OR NOT TO READ
Cecelia Wilson | To Read or Not To Read | July 13, 2017
1. Describe Back To Bremen in 120 characters or less.
Back to Bremen is the inspirational true story of Marta Röpke, who wanted nothing more than to raise her children in peace. But, the Furher’s mad ambitions bring war to Germany’s doorstep, and life in Bremen now means surviving one day and one night at a time.
Left alone with her eight children, Marta has no idea what awaits her family. She cannot envision the years of fear and destruction on the road before them. She is just a common woman, but Marta becomes a heroine simply by being a mother.
2. How hard is it to get in the head of a character that has lived a turbulent life?
Interviewing Marta's daughter, Edith, helped bring some insight into how Edith felt during the war years and brought a glimpse of what her mother must have thought during those times. It certainly helped that I am a mother and, though I've never been through the struggles this family did during the Second World War, I could imagine the emotions I might have experienced had I faced some of Marta's choices. I admire Marta greatly for being such a strong woman and doing whatever it took to keep her children safe.
3. What does your writing process look like?
With Back to Bremen, the events happened over seventy years ago, but I had the privilege of being close friends with one living child from Marta's family. I interviewed Edith (now 81 years old) for the story, but her older brother, who still lives in Germany, was able to provide a few details on events Edith had forgotten. Researching World War II brought a wealth of information to solidify dates and major events during the war, and helped nail down the history to go alongside the family's plight. I see each chapter as a "mini-story" and, once written, Edith helped edit each individually. After much polishing, I was ready to submit to a publisher and then, of course, a final round of editing!