Here we go—the first Fast Fifteen of 2018.
Today we’ll learn more about author Cecelia Wilson. For more than a decade, Cecelia has been the Feature Writer for Searcy Living magazine. Over the years, she has penned articles introducing readers to governors, senators, Grammy Award-winning musicians, and individuals from all walks of life. In addition to writing articles, books, and youth plays, Cecelia is a singer, pastor’s wife, play director, and acts in community theaters, commercials, film, and television. Born and raised in Batesville, she graduated from Batesville High School and earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Cecelia lives in central Arkansas with her husband, Dennis, but manages to check in often with her grown son and daughter, Cody and Cheyenne.
Let’s give Cecelia a warm welcome, and check out her 15 responses, below.
Five Questions About Your Book
- How did you come up with the idea for your book?
More than twenty years ago I met Edith Röpke Harris. She shared the story of her childhood in Nazi Germany and I was hooked! I’ve written short magazine articles about the main points of her saga, but only four years ago did we decide to finally get serious about writing the details in a manuscript and shop for a publisher.
- What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I did a lot of research to confirm dates, bombing campaigns, and major events during World War II so readers would understand what both Hitler and the Allies were doing throughout the story. Doing so helped put into context why the family was forced to make certain decisions. I also did a lot of research on a plane crash photo in the family’s possession and hired a British reporter living in Germany to glean information on the outcome of one particular Nazi officer from East Germany. Lots of work, but lots of fun!
- How did you come up with the title of your book?
At one point during World War II, the Röpke family is evacuated to East Germany to escape the worst of the Allied bombings. As the war is ending, the Soviets are invading from the East and Marta and her children have little choice — they must escape the East and the Soviet Red Army. That nine-week journey by foot summed up the entire war years perfectly: Back to Bremen.
- What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?
Currently, I travel with Edith to different speaking events and book signings promoting Back to Bremen, and she and I are loving every minute of it. The book covers about nine years of her childhood, so I don’t anticipate a sequel to Edith’s story; however, I have another true war story I’m considering writing. Stay tuned!
- Is there anything interesting about this particular book we haven’t covered yet? If so, what?
Though the story is Edith’s childhood, her mother Marta is the true heroine of the tale. Marta was simply a common German mother whose life during the war focused on making tough choices to keep herself and her eight children alive. I’m very honored to have written the story and I was also delighted that Oghma published this book on Edith’s 81st birthday.
Five Questions About You As An Author
- What started you on the path to writing for a living?
I’m still on the path to writing for a living! I don’t write full-time; I have another full-time job in the business world. Writing is something I love to do but must find spare time to do it. I find it’s worth every stolen moment!
- Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you like about that path? What do you dislike about it?
I am traditionally published and never considered any other path. For me, it was important to find a publisher who knew the business, would assign an editor to me, and take me through the process. Honestly, I found the entire process both fun and fascinating. I specifically couldn’t wait to work through the cover art project!
- What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
Hearing “No!” I submitted to both agents and publishers before finding someone interested in taking a serious look at my manuscript. So many publishers were interested in any genre BUT non-fiction, and each wanted something totally different in terms of a submission. It was a tedious ordeal, but worth it all to find that “one” publisher who appreciated the story I was so passionate about.
- What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Meeting people, speaking to them about this story, and finding those history buffs who are as excited as I am about reading a different perspective of the war. Having them meet Edith is the icing on the cake!
- Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers?
Particularly for those non-fiction writers out there, I would encourage you to find a story YOU find interesting. If it excites YOU, chances are readers will also be drawn to it. If YOU are passionate about it, your readers will pick up on that as well.
Five Questions About You As A Reader
- Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jane Austen is my favorite author and after that, I basically love almost anyone who writes a biography!
- What are some great books you’ve read recently?
The most recent book I’ve read was Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. Not only was it an interesting historical read, but it was an inspiring story of perseverance that covers most of Wilberforce’s life.
- What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?
Nearly everything I read has some type of historical backdrop, and if it is a true story, I’m even more fascinated. There are so many interesting stories from the past (some lived by individuals well-known; other stories from common citizens) that educate and motivate. I do like fiction, but non-fiction is where my heart is!
- What are your top three favorite books of all time?
Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Back to Bremen, of course!
- Can you recommend any new or upcoming authors to us?
I have met and spoken with John Dwyer on more than one occasion and am not only impressed with his writing, but also the man that he is. It is a bonus that he and I are with the same publisher, so I highly recommend readers check out John’s books.
So, there you have it. The fast fifteen from author Cecelia Wilson. Let’s show her some blog love and leave her a word of encouragement or ask her a question. In the meantime, here’s a peek at some of her work and links where you can find her.
Back to Bremen
Edith Röpke, her seven siblings and their mother Marta have already learned to be silent and live inconspicuously…
It is 1939. On the cusp of World War II, the city of Bremen holds its breath with quiet unease. For years, the Jews have been excluded from everyday life. Now, all of Germany will suffer for their Führer’s mad ambitions. In his quest for Aryan utopia, Adolf Hitler invades Poland, and Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Bremen’s ports and factories soon bear the brunt of payloads from RAF Wellingtons and Lancasters, and Edith’s childhood is defined by unrelenting Allied bombing raids, streets strewn with dead bodies, and the ever-present reminder to trust no one outside the family.
Seen through Edith’s eyes as a child and through her memories as an adult seventy years after the war’s end, Back to Bremen depicts her harrowing nine-week journey through war-torn Germany. It’s the story of a child’s fear and the sheer determination of a mother risking it all so she and her children can return home. Back to Bremen is a vivid reminder that war creates countless victims, but hope can make heroes of the most common among us.