Meet Martha Hall Kelly

MARTHA HALL KELLY is the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls, Lost Roses, and Sunflower Sisters. Her books have sold more than two million copies and been translated in fifty countries. She lives in Connecticut and New York City.

Martha Hall Kelly was featured in Once Upon a Book Club in the July 2016 Adult box for her novel, Lilac Girls. The box hint was "Lilacs".

A Conversation with Martha Hall Kelly

In November 2016, Martha Hall Kelly sat down with Lora and Bev from to discuss her novel, Lilac Girls. We are honored to share that conversation with our readers here. Enjoy!

For our readers, can you give a synopsis of the book in 10 words or less?
Martha Hall Kelly (MHK): A story of forgiveness based on a true story.

What did you do before you became a writer?
MHK: I was a copywriter. I used to write for major advertising agencies. I’d write 30 second TV commercials. I stopped when I had my third child. Then, when I went up to the Bellamy-Ferriday house and discovered that story…I still wasn’t a writer and didn’t intend on being a writer…and that’s what led to my becoming a writer.

Working on anything currently?
MHK: Yes, two prequels that Random House just acquired! One takes place in WW1 and features Caroline’s mother and two Russian characters. And the third book is a pre-prequel and that takes place in the Civil War and uses the same structure. It features Caroline’s grandmother who was an incredible woman and nursed soldiers on the Gettysburg battlefield. She was also a staunch abolitionist.

Historical fiction is your thing! A lot of research must go into your books, were you always into history?
MHK: Somewhat. I didn’t like it in school. It was always about dates and battles, and equipment. I love old homes, and that’s why I came up to the house. I love learning about history through people’s lifestyles.

Did you have a favorite character to write? Was one easier to write than the other?
MHK: I found Zuzanna easy to write. She was one of my favorite characters. She was just so lovely. I based both of the characters of Kasia and Zuzanna on my daughters. Kasia was very responsible and wise and had good resourcefulness and intuition and Zuzanna was so loving and had such a positive attitude.

Any thoughts towards turning the book into a movie?
MHK: It’s so funny before it even became a book, my husband and I would go to dinner and talk about casting and who would be who. It was fun and it would also help me, by bringing the characters alive. In my office, I had photographs everywhere of the characters. Like Judy Dench was Eliza and Kate Winslet was Matka. But no, no one has optioned it…yet.

Who would you cast for Caroline?
MHK: Cate Blanchet…or Nicole Kidman..or Mary from Downton Abbey.

We especially loved the parts of the story that took place in Bethlehem; like when the post office has its only other big influx of mail other than what they have at Christmas. Caroline has managed to get the Rabbit’s story in the public eye and people from around the country were sending letters and donations. Did that happen?
MHK: Yes, that’s true. The post office used to be right across from Caroline’s house. So she could just walk right across the street. When I interviewed her gardener he told me some great stories about Caroline. She had a tense relationship with the postmaster because if they got her mail wrong, she’d tell him in no uncertain terms how upset she was.

A special thank you to for posting this interview.

Featured Books

Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of three women during World War II. Based on real events, it follows the lives of an American socialite, a Polish teenager, and a German doctor as their paths intersect at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Featured in July 2016.

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