Monica Hesse biography

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Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse Biography

Monica Hesse is the national bestselling author of the true crime love story American Fire and the Edgar Award-winning young adult historical mystery novel Girl in the Blue Coat, which has been translated into a dozen languages and was shortlisted for the American Booksellers Association's Indies Choice Award. Her latest book, They Went Left, was published in April 2020.

Monica is a columnist for the Washington Post, where she focuses on gender and its impact on society. Prior to that, she was a feature writer who covered royal weddings, dog shows, political campaigns, Academy Awards ceremonies, White House state dinners, and some events that felt like a mixture of all of the above. She has talked about these stories, and other things, on NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN, FOX and NPR, and she has been a winner of the Society for Feature Journalism's Narrative Storytelling award, and a finalist for a Livingston Award and a James Beard Award. Monica lives in Maryland. with her husband and a brainiac dog.

Monica Hesse's website

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Interview

Monica Hesse talks about the relevance of historical fiction, how her background as a journalist for the Washington Post informs her writing, and how she immersed herself in Dutch history and culture to research Girl in a Blue Coat

How much of this novel is based on actual historical events, real places, and people who actually lived? Such as the Schouwburg Theater – does that place really exist and was it used for that purpose?

The people are entirely fictional, but the places and historical events are entirely real. The Schouwburg was a theater that was taken over by the Nazis and used as a deportation center – now it's a museum and memorial. It was a hideous example of the atrocities being carried out literally alongside daily life. But it was also the site of some fairly incredible resistance work. The characters in my book draw a lot from the Amsterdam Student Group, an organization of young people who worked to rescue children from the Schouwburg and place them in safe homes for the duration of the war.

With rare exception, everything that happens in Girl in the Blue Coat could have happened exactly that way in real life. I wanted it to be unimpeachable in terms of research.

How did you go about doing your research?

I think a lot of times, people think of research as being just about trekking to the library. I like to think of research as a multi-sensory experience. I ate a lot of Dutch food – almost all of which appears in the book ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Monica Hesse at BookBrowse
They Went Left jacket American Fire jacket Girl in the Blue Coat jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Monica Hesse but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • John Boyne

    John Boyne

    Boyne was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1971, and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. He now offers... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Girl in the Blue Coat

    Try:
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
    by John Boyne

  • Jean-Jacques Greif

    Jean-Jacques Greif

    Jean-Jacques Greif was born in 1944 in Paris, France. From 1970 to 1975, he was an advertising copywriter. He has been a journalist at Marie Claire magazine since 1975. Greif originally published The Fighter in his native ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    They Went Left

    Try:
    The Fighter
    by Jean-Jacques Greif

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