How to pronounce Ruta Sepetys: Roota Suh-pettys
Born and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. She holds a B.S. in International Finance from Hillsdale College. While in school Sepetys also studied at the Centre d'études Européennes in Toulon, France and at the ICN in Nancy, France
Her debut novel Between Shades of Gray, describes the genocide of Baltic people after the Soviet occupation in 1941, when nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps, not to reappear until 1990. As this is a story seldom told, Ruta wanted to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region. The book was met with broad critical acclaim, and was translated into over 22 different languages.
Ruta currently lives with her family in Tennesse
This biography was last updated on 03/11/2013.
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Inspiration can strike from anywhere. In the video and text Q&As below, Ruta Sepetys discusses the events that galvanized her to write her new book, Out of the Easy, which is set in New Orleans' French Quarter:
Ruta Sepetys discusses Out of The Easy
How did you create Josie Moraine?
Years ago I was part of a mentoring program for young women. I met girls who were swept into the dysfunctional current that surrounded their home life. But I also met young women who made difficult decisions and divorced themselves from a negative environment. That's incredibly hard. Those girls inspired me. They taught me that we can learn to fly, even if we're born with broken wings. The idea of that broken, yet beautiful bird became Josie Moraine.
Why New Orleans?
My introduction to New Orleans came through a vintage pair of opera glasses I received for my birthday. The glasses, still in their original case from the jeweler in New Orleans, were engraved and dated as a gift from someone named Willie. I'm nuts about history, so I hired a researcher to trace the origin of the glasses. I learned that Willie was a woman in the French Quarter. And the jeweler who sold Willie the glasses? Poisoned. ...
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