The Problems They Face

Eliana Tobias Author Interview

When We Return follows two people who are healing from historical trauma and struggle to find the courage to rebuild their lives and open up to love and companionship. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I lived in Peru for a number of years during a time of turmoil. Most of the disturbances were taking place in remote locations and reported in the news in ambiguous ways. People wondered whether it was members of the Shining Path guerillas or those in the army responsible for the violence taking place. Years later I discovered how the media was purposefully not reporting the truth while thousands of people were disappearing and thousands forced to flee. This, as well as listening to stories of the Holocaust while growing up, provided me with inspiration for the story. I wanted to answer the one question that I was most curious about – how do people who live through horrors remake their lives?

Your characters are endearing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

My characters have suffered a lot due to unfortunate and unforeseen geo-political circumstances that have threatened their way of life. They are strong and resilient individuals for whom survival matters greatly. And although memories of war are still raw when the readers meet them, they strive to obtain justice for the human rights violations they faced years ago.

Each has a particular backstory which drives their decisions and the paths they chose to take in life. Each is strongly motivated to overcome the problems they face in order to move forward and better their lives. They are mature, honest, compassionate, and hard working people who care about family, friendship and justice.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

  • Displacement of people caused by racialized and fractured societies reeling from autocratic governments.
  • People’s disappearances are cruel crimes that leave families with a lack of closure.
  • As perspectives of justice began to change after the second world war, people started to confront the sins of the past. Today countries are stepping up to find truth and justice for those who have suffered human rights violations.
  • The culture of remembrance – how will the past be remembered?
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Issues of reparation, redemption.and reconciliation.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

We’ve heard the term ‘the personal is political’ – and this is the argument I keep in mind as I develop a story about a politically progressive civil rights lawyer working to help underserved people obtain social justice.

In my new story I explore the plight of women running away from their impoverished and violent Latin American countries, to find a sense of security in the US. But once they cross the border these women are either detained or deported back to their homes. The detainees find themselves in a punitive institution where they have no voice. All they have are displaced dreams and their future unknown. What they discover is a different reality than what they had hoped for as authoritarian government policies are being put in place. The immigrant women are mostly forgotten until the young lawyer rallies behind them so they can be heard.

Migration is an issue that needs to be understood; it needs to be managed in a humanitarian way. Our lawyer realizes that there is a long way to go before this can be achieved and it requires the help of a larger community of immigrant rights activists to hold the system accountable and make changes.

I’m just starting to develop the story and it will take me time before it’s ready to be published.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Website

Who should be held responsible for public wrongs?

By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens following the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.

Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager for the government to acknowledge their pain and suffering, but they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.

Things begin to look up when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggles his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia’s situation. Together, Otilia, Jerry, and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma, and through it, they must find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves up to love and companionship.

Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, Tobias examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when our past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on July 17, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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