Anita Abriel is the author of the new historical novel The Light After the War, based on her mother's life. Abriel has written many novels under the name Anita Hughes. She lives in California.
Q: How much did you know about your mother's life story as you grew up, and at what point did you decide to write this novel based on her history?
A: My mother told me a lot of stories when I was a child but I didn't always pay attention. It was when I was 12 that she told me something (which is in the book, but I won't give it away) that stuck with me. I've wanted to write it ever since.
I decided to write the novel a few years ago. It felt like the right time in my life to approach it and do it justice.
Q: How much research did you need to do to write the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
A: I did a lot of historical research. One thing I learned was how many Hungarian Jews - half a million - were killed in the Holocaust, even though Hungary came so late into the war.
Also, the fact that Jews ended up spread all over the world - South America, Australia, Canada - was surprising. Many didn't want to stay in Europe and couldn't get into America.
Q: What did you see as the right blend between your mother's life story and the fictional Vera in your novel?
A: I kept many things - including most of the names - just as they happened. I filled in things I didn't know for sure and in some cases I imagined what Vera would be thinking and feeling in different situations.
Q: You've written many novels under the name Anita Hughes. Why did you decide to use the name Anita Abriel for this novel?
A: I felt very close to my mother when I wrote it, so I thought it would be nice to use my maiden name. I'm glad I did. It makes the book even more special to me.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have another work of historical fiction coming out next year. It is set on the French Riviera during World War II and is based on true events.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I'm always grateful to my readers for picking up my books!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Anita Hughes.