Hello, Sunshines, I hope you are all well?! I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on this brilliant blog tour for; Spies by Ellie Midwood. I am super excited to be sharing this gorgeous book with you all, and I also have the most amazing exclusive interview with Ellie. I hope you love it as much as I do!
Spies by Ellie Midwood
Publication Date: May 15, 2020
Format: Paperback & eBook
Series: Metropolis, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Weimar Berlin, 1927
Having recovered from the hyperinflation, the decadent metropolis is prospering against all odds. Unbothered by the turbulent events of the previous years, Berlin plunges into an orgy of life, entirely oblivious to the dangerous signs of an upcoming catastrophe.
Much like the rest of Berlin’s artistic elite, Margot von Steinhoff is too preoccupied with her work on the set of the infamous Fritz Lang, to pay attention to the dark shadow of the nationalistic threat hanging over the city. When Ernst Weniger, her former lover and now an official NKVD officer, asks for her help in aiding the German communists, she refuses at first, choosing to stay apolitical, just like Lang. However, when the new Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, arrives in the city and begins his relentless campaign of harassment and misinformation, Margot realizes that staying neutral is no longer an option. Playing on the wrong side can cost her not only her career but her freedom, yet Margot has never been more certain of her choice.
“I don’t read political newspapers, Margot. I only want to make my films… I don’t want to have anything to do with all those politics.”
“I don’t want to have anything to do with them either. But the sad fact is that sometimes politics wants to have everything to do with us, regardless of our desires. At some point, all of us will have to take sides. The good news, Fritz, is that I’ll always be on yours.”
Dark, gritty, yet full of hope, “Spies” is the novel of the doomed Weimar Republic and the last generation of free-thinking artists who lived and created their masterpieces in a city, on the verge of collapse.
Hi Ellie, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, it’s so lovely having you on the blog! – thank you so much for having me!
Firstly, can you tell us all a little about yourself?
I’m a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. I owe my interest in the history of the Second World War to my grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling me about his experiences on the frontline when I was a young girl. Growing up, my interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining my BA in Linguistics, I decided to make writing my full-time career and began working on my first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” I’m continuously enriching my library with new research material and feed my passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.
In my free time, I’m a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. I live in New York with my fiancé and our Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Your new book; Spies looks amazing, it has gone straight on to my wish list, for those who haven’t heard of it yet, could you tell us a little about it?
Basically, “Spies” is a story of dual plot lines. One deals with the filming and the second, with the antifascist activity and my main protagonist Margot is involved with both. The story takes place in Weimar Berlin in the late twenties, which at the time was an incredibly liberal and cosmopolitan city with a vibrant cultural life. As the Nazis try to muscle their way in, Margot joins forces with Ernst Weniger, a German communist, in their effort to upset the newly-arrived Gauleiter Goebbels’s plans to win the Reichstag elections and also, to prevent the nationalistic ideology from overtaking the UFA – a film company Margot works for. Along the way, she finds an unexpected ally in Fritz Lang, Germany’s most celebrated director and her immediate boss. There’s plenty of intrigue, plotting, real historical figures taking unexpected sides and half of it all takes place right on the set of “Spies.”
Your new book is the second book in the Metropolis series, can you tell us a little more about this series?
“Metropolis” will be a multiple book series. It starts with 1924, during the time of hyper-inflation and cultural and social revolution in Weimar Berlin (think Women’s Lib, sexual liberation, the development of psychoanalysis, expressionism, iconic silent movies etc etc) and will end only in 1945. The protagonist Margot von Steinhoff, who starts off as an apolitical photographer, gets more and more involved with the Berlin political scene and the further into series, the deeper that involvement will grow. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but there will be plenty of spying going on when the Nazis come to power in 1933 and plenty of close calls for Margot, who will be walking a very dangerous line as she plays a silent collaborator and works for the German underground at the same time.
When not writing or researching for your writing, what do you to relax?
Yoga, reading horror or psychological thrillers, watching old noir movies.
When you first sit down to write a new story, do you research before or during writing the book? and how much of the historical detail you find in your research ends up in the finished book?
Before and during writing and even during rewrites to insert additional scenes or descriptions that I could have missed out during the initial phase. To me, research is extremely important, so I stick to real historical events, lingo, historical figures etc as much a possible. I would say, about ninety percent of real history ends up in the finished product. For instance, in “Spies” the whole movie production process, the relationship between the actors, the conflicts with the UFA, the historical background (such as Goebbels’s arrival in Berlin and the following clashes with the German communists) – it’s all true to fact. The supporting characters, such as Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou, Leni Riefenstahl, Max Reinhardt, Theodor Wolff are all real historical figures. I only had to insert the main protagonist, Margot, in the middle of all this, create her own plot line that fit into the historical frame and have her interact with all of these real people. So yes, to me personally, the more historical accuracy and sticking to the fact, the better. You can not overdo research when writing historical fiction. After all, it’s the historical details (and I’m talking contemporary cigarette brands they smoked, books they read, social issues they had to deal with) that make a good, authentic historical fiction novel. Without such details, it’s just fiction.
It is so obvious that the WW2 era is real love and passion of yours, could you share with us what caught your attention and drew you into this era?
My family history. Many of my family members fought in the war and some perished. I grew up listening to my grandfather’s war stories (he was among the troops that took Berlin) and I guess they impressed me to such an extent, I began actively reading and researching the war and the events leading to it later in life and ended up writing about it. I guess, the main reason why I will never get tired of writing about it is because I want people to understand how hellish the war is, how dangerous racist and xenophobic rhetoric is, how important it is – and particularly now – to stand up to tyranny and fight for what is right. In general, how to prevent yet another war and another Holocaust from happening.
If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead characters?
Right now, I would love “Metropolis” series to be made into a Netflix series maybe, but it’s because I have just finished the second book and I’m still too emotionally involved with the project and excited about it. Weimar Berlin would look amazing on film – all that glitter and glamour and the ominous political cloud in the background. I think it would look fascinating. As for the actors, I would leave it to the professionals – producers and directors. They know their business better.
Are there challenges you face while writing and researching your books, and if so what do you do to work through these issues?
I can’t really come up with any challenges; once I get into the project, it pretty much writes itself. All I have to do it to sit before my laptop, let my characters talk, and type after them. The biggest challenge is the days when the words sometimes refuse to assemble themselves into coherent sentences, but that’s usually a sign that I overworked myself and that my brain needs a rest (I usually work 10-12 hours a day, so it’s easy to imagine how it can short-circuit sometimes, haha!). On days like these, I usually let myself recharge, listen to an audiobook, do some yoga, take a walk with my pup, watch some old classic movie and by the time I wake up the next day, I already have the entire new chapter in my head, ready to be written.
Your books are predominantly set during the twenties and WW2, would you ever write a story set during a completely different era?
As of now, I would say no. That is, it is not in my immediate plans. But you know what they say – never say never – so, maybe, someday, I’ll write about Louis XIV’s court intrigues or about Viking warrior women.
If you were hosting a dinner party which three people would you invite?
Living or dead? If living, it would be Stephen King, Johnny Depp, and Natalie Portman. All three are extremely talented individuals but they’re also very interesting people (impo) and I think it would be very interesting to just sit there and talk about social issues, art, literature, history and whatnot with them. If dead, it would be Erich Maria Remarque, Fritz Lang, and Albert Einstein – all three for the same reason.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun; What is your favourite snacking food?
Cherries, bananas, or nectarines. I’m a health nut lol Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it!
It was a real pleasure having you visit the blog today, Ellie, Thank you!
About the Author
Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.
In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, June 6
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, June 8
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, June 9
Review at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, June 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, June 12
Interview at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Monday, June 15
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Monday, June 22
Review at Donna’s Book Blog
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Spies by Ellie Midwood! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Spies
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.