• Maya Linnell

Kelly Rimmer on reader emails, hitting the million copies mark and foreign translations

A veritable feast of heartbreak and history, The Warsaw Orphan takes readers into the Jewish ghettos in 1940s Poland with a story that amplifies the very best, and the gut-wrenching worst, of human nature. Rimmer brings us two very different characters from opposite sides of town, Elzbieta and Roman, both brave, heroic and determined to save their families. With mounting war casualties, children recruited for corpse collection and boat-loads of innocents sent to their deaths, their efforts to aid the rebellion become even more important and unthinkably dangerous. Beautifully written, and as touching as it was confronting, this immersive story is sure to be one of 2021’s bestselling historical novels. Thanks to Hachette for my review copy, The Warsaw Orphan is out now in eBook, audiobook and paperback.


New York Times bestselling author, Kelly Rimmer has not only sold more than a million copies, but she’s also had her stories translated into more than 20 languages, no mean feat for someone in their 40s who didn’t start enter the publishing world until her 30s! Kelly’s love of books began at a young age, with writing quickly becoming her favourite hobby. She’s since published 11 novels, with another scheduled for 2022. As well as penning internationally bestselling novels, Kelly periodically fosters rescue cats and dogs, is working on her green thumb (according to her she’s had mixed results thus far) and says her happy place is hiking with her family and her dogs in the bushland near their rural home in Orange, NSW. Find Kelly online at www.kellyrimmer.com


Short and sweet questions

Current book on your bedside table?

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason


Where do you do most of your writing?

I’m in the process of renovating the tiny home I use as a writing studio. While that’s a chaotic mess, I’m working at my kitchen bench.


Favourite Australian holiday destination?

I love visiting my aunts. One lives in the Daintree, in a beautiful log cabin she and her husband built themselves, on a property accessible only by boat. Another lives in Sussex Inlet, which is a sleepy village on the NSW South Coast. They are both incredibly interesting women, it’s just a bonus that they live in remarkable places.


What’s your preferred drop?

I live right near Orange so I’m surrounded by brilliant cafes for coffee, and brilliant wineries for wine. I’m spoilt for choice on both counts!


Guilty pleasure?

When I can’t sleep, I re-watch my favourite sitcoms. Just hearing the theme songs can be so comforting.

Pet peeve?

I loathe running late.


Favourite fictional couple and why?

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. I have been heavily invested in their story for decades.


If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be?

Probably a hammock and my Kindle, although the Kindle might just count as essential and if it did, I’d also bring a really soft blankie for the hammock.


Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for?

Charity Norman. She’s published a number of brilliant books and her star is rising, but it’s a crying shame that she’s not yet a household name!


Book you’re most looking forward to reading in 2021?

If history really is doomed to repeat, I’ll probably devour Liane Moriarty’s new book in about 8 hours then wish I’d slowed down and savoured it.


Best thing about being a writer?

Lovely reader emails.


Worst thing about being a writer?

Less-than-lovely reader emails. It’s jarring when people take the time to look me up to tell me what they hated about my books. I’ve come to accept that it’s a part of publishing, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.


Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing?

I can’t listen to podcasts while I’m writing or I just end up typing a transcript of the podcast. I have a few playlists, but if I’m writing a REALLY intense scene, I’ll handpick songs to match the tone of it.


TV/film crush?

My husband is well aware that we are married till death do us part or Ryan Reynolds comes calling, whichever comes first.


Top tips for aspiring authors?

What works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for another, and that’s why I always tell aspiring writers to ignore writing advice unless it really resonates. No one can write your story the way you can, and unfortunately, no one can tell you what’s going to work for you – you have to figure that out for yourself through trial and error.


What theme do you hope shines through in your writing?

I don’t think there’s a unifying theme across my books, but I do hope a little optimism shines through each story, even when the subject matter is difficult.


Proudest author moment?

One day last February, I learned that I’d sold over a million English language books, and later that day my agent called to tell me that one of my books had made a New York Times bestseller list for the first time. That was a great day! More recently, I signed a Romanian translation deal, which means my books will soon be available in more than two dozen languages.


My favourite thing about writing romance is …. knowing I’m writing towards a happy ending. That isn’t always the case in my books, so I really appreciate it when I am writing a romance.


If anyone gives me flack about writing romance, I tell them…they might want to sit down because this is going to take a while! I get ranty when people disparage romance. Each year, more romance novels are sold than mystery, fantasy and sci-fi novels combined – it’s a billion dollar plus industry in the US alone. Romance brings joy, escapism, and entertainment to millions upon millions of readers every day, and yet it’s so often the subject of scorn. If consistent endings made stories worthy of derision, crime novels would also be stigmatised. The stigma around romance exists simply because romance is most commonly written and read by women – that’s why it’s extra important that we push back against it. As you can see, people only tend to give me flack about romance once, because doing so causes me to go on a long rant about misogyny! 😊


Three fun facts about the author:

Creative writing was my secret hobby until well into my thirties – not even my closest friends knew I wrote.

I’m a huge fan of punny pet names – just ask my cats, CleoCatra and Chloe Catdashian.

I adore musical theatre and one day I’d love to write a musical.

The Warsaw Orphan

Inspired by the real-life heroine who saved thousands of Jewish children during WWII, The Warsaw Orphan follows Elzbieta and Roman’s perilous attempt to reclaim the love and life they once knew. From Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, Kelly Rimmer has penned her most meticulously researched and emotionally compelling novel to date.


In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality—and that they’re the reason she must conceal her real identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism. Using Sara’s credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara’s cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm’s way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.


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