Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Peek Behind the Video for BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY

One of the first things that attracted me to BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY was an author video that Ruta did, describing the path she took to write and publish the book. It made me cry--I watched it three times in a row, and then turned around and shared the video with everyone I could. Here it is, in case you missed it the first time I posted it:

Can you tell us about the production of the video? How involved were you in the process?

I created the storyboard and was quite involved in the process. My husband filmed the interview footage of me, and also my father. The interview footage of the survivors came from a film called “Red Terror on the Amber Coast” by Domedia Productions. It’s a wonderful movie about the Soviet occupation in the Baltics. Pirate Post Studios here in Franklin, TN created graphics and did all the amazing editing work. A fantastic film composer, Niels Bye Nielsen, scored the music for the video and created the opening sequence and visuals.

Did you know the survivors in the video? How well? How did you meet, contact, and interview them?

Irena Spakauskiene is one of the survivors who appear in the video. She spent hours and hours with me when I was in Lithuania and provided such vivid detail about her experience in the Arctic. A friend of mine in Lithuania, Linas, was also a great help and put me in touch with historians. The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius assisted as well.

Were the interviews on the video done for the video, or is the video a reflection of the research you’d already conducted?

The video interviews with me were done for the video. The interview footage of the survivors came from a film called “Red Terror on the Amber Coast” by Domedia Productions.

At the end of the video, you broke down and cried—which made me cry, too. Can you tell us a little bit about your emotions at that time?

This story and the associated part of history has been in the dark for such a long time. The book didn’t sell right away, but when Philomel and Penguin jumped on board their belief was unwavering. And then Penguin’s sub-rights team and the international agents sold the book in over 22 countries. I can barely wrap my head around it. I’m so grateful and when I think of all of the people who thought this story would never be told I am overcome with emotion.

Between Shades of Gray Prize Pack:
Signed bookplate
Music download card

All this week, I'll be posting about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. Comment on a post, you get an entry for the random drawing. Five posts = five chances to comment and win. So come back every day this week for another chance to comment and win! 

Also, I thought it might be easier if I suggested some topics for comments--you don't have to comment on the following questions to enter (a simple "please enter me!" is fine), I just thought it might be fun to get a real discussion going.

Question: I know you watched the video. If not, you better! So, what part touched you the most?


ansindt said...

Enter me pretty please=)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I think I cried a few times just watching that, especially when she talked about the little boy's coffin being stolen. Heart breaking! I really want to read this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I have chills and tears. The part that moved me the most was hearing Ruta say that her dream is for librarians and teachers to help bring this books to classrooms and libraries. And it's ours to do the same for you. So. Powerful.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add! I'm in to work tomorrow and will for sure order the book for our collection. Thanks again for sharing.

Jessy said...

I'd have to say the pictures touched me the most. It's one thing to hear about the horror but another to actually see it.

Shari said...

I would love to be entered. This is the video that moved me so much I knew I needed to read this book.

~Enamored Soul~ said...

First of all, thank you so very much for sharing this amazing video with us. I believe that anyone who can watch this without feeling incredible sadness, or getting teary-eyed is lacking some part of the human emotion spectrum.

That being said, video-wise my favorite part was the beautiful background score of the video. It's a haunting melody, gentle and lilting in quality, and transformative in character.

Also, it completely rattled me when I heard survivor Irena Valaityte-Spakauskiene say – “And we were at deaths doorstep all the time.” Seeing Irena speak of her father, her eyes brimming with tears, the memory still haunting her to this very day so many, many years later made my heart ache in a way that is indescribable.

Also, I love how author Sepeteys describes the book,and it's title. She says, “Because between shades of grey, sometimes there’s a small crack that let the love shine in.” That infuses this video and its story of immense struggle and sadness with a generous helping of hope.

I can genuinely say that I cannot WAIT to read this amazing novel - please enter me in the giveaway, I will be extremely obliged.

Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

Gabrielle Carolina said...

I don't know, I cried the entire time and still cry thinking about parts.

I loved seeing the survivors, they just embodied strength right before my eyes.

I can't wait to read this book. I went through a border-line obsessive period in fifth and sixth grade where all I read was WW2 and Holocaust books. It's been a while since I "went back."

Anonymous said...

I can't even think about this video without tears brimming to my eyes. It's so touching, and that's what I love about it, the emotions it evokes.

Teril said...

Oh this looks like an amazing book.
Please enter me.

Kaya H said...

Wow. This book looks like something special.

Please entering me in.

abby mumford said...

I think the part where Ruta asked her family if they had any pictures of their grandfather and they said no, we had to burn them all. It's so horrifying to know they had to pick self preservation vs. acknowledging their own family members.

I can't wait to read this book now.

Anonymous said...

That was an amazing video. I think the most touching part were the stories from the survivors themselves, particularly Irena's story of her father giving her his wedding ring. That was heartbreaking, it was his last opportunity to help his family and that makes it even more heartfelt.

Our identities are not just what we are today, it is from all of the yesterdays that came before, mostly the yesterdays that are not ours but of our parents and their parents and further back than we can even imagine.

History has so many stories that we never know about. It's a wonderful thing for Ruta to have written this story, it needs to be told and it needs to be read.

Can't wait to read it.
Maria Touet

caren said...

What a fantastic contest! Thank you for this. :) Please enter me. :D

lulilut said...

The part that brought me to tears is Irena Valaityte-Spakauskiene's story about her the wedding ring.

Thanks for posting the video and the giveaway.

d.septer at

Jamie Kline (Bookerella) said...

This video was heartbreaking. The part that made me cry was when Irena was talking about the last time she saw her he gave her his wedding ring so they would be able to feed themselves. Also, the story about the baby's coffin being stolen really got to me. I really want to read this book; I would love to win this book but either way I will definitely be reading it!

sheley said...

I would really like to win!

lindseybousfield said...

Please enter me!

Rachel said...

Well the video was super touching, but when she cried that was even more heart wrenching. The story about the baby and the coffin was sweet and sad, and it made me think. The right kind of people when put in a situation like that are fascinating and worth paying attention to. I loved the video!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I watched this video months ago and it made me cry then. I've since watched it several times (and just watched it again) and I've cried every single time.

The interviews with the survivors is what gets me the most. It's easy to hear about something like this secondhand, but when someone who lived through it talks about it, the entire situation becomes real. That's what this video does to me. It makes it all that much more real.

This is a story that needs to be told and I hope Between Shades of Gray becomes a regular part of many curriculums.

Holly said...

That is such an amazing and heart wrenching video. I really can't wait to read the story now.
I had taken a course in high school on the Holocaust and we learned a little bit about the Stalin's genocide as well. We have it easy compared to most and it's sometimes hard for us to imagine that people are capable of something so horrific.
Thank you for sharing this with us and for giving us the chance to win it!

Tanya said...

The book sounds great. Enter me please!! Thanks!

Katie said...

wow I didn't know that this was based in part of her own family history. that's amazing.


Melissa/welachild said...

I was really moved when Irena turned away from the camera because she was overcome with emotion. It is amazing what horrible things human beings are capable of doing to each other. But I agree with Ruta, love can save you because love is stronger.

Z. Taco said...

Touching. Heartbreaking. Amazing.

The survivors' stories certainly affected me the most. As a current world history AP student, I've just learned about Stalin's reign in detail. However, I never imagined the magnitude of the Great Purges.
Just as I cried watching a Holocaust video at the former concentration camp of Dachau when I went to Germany, visually seeing images of prisoners tore me apart.
I can't wait to read this novel.

Katie said...

I think the part that touched me the most was when one of the women being interviewed simply said, "I can't talk about it."
Please enter me, this sounds like an amazing book.

Vivien said...

I'm from Germany so the Stalin story hits pretty close to home on a level. The most touching part was watching the survivors.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Jasmine Stairs said...

What part touched me the most? All of it. Heh. :')

Um, the mention of a father giving away his wedding ring, and the baby's coffin, those were very tear-inducing.

jpetroroy said...

The part about the coffin. *tears*

GothMisfitjazz said...

Wow, I even cried, which is rare for me to do that over a video, I even cried when I finished the book. Hoping to still win thanks.

Mom2two said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I just found out about your blog after reading Christine Fonseca's post with your advice today. That video was so powerful and I truly have to the book now! :) I think I'll have to wait awhile until I recover from reading Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah which was heartwrenching. Between Shades of Gray sounds equally moving and I'll be sure to recommend it to my book club! Thanks so much. :)