Historical fiction meets summer romance in this multi-generational tale, in which bestselling author Roxanne Veletzos shines a light on the oft-missed real-life story of the fate of many Romani and Eastern European people during the Second World War. Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer read without a great romance, and here we have a love triangle that spans decades and countries. Full of heart—as well as some some important historical details—When the Summer Was Ours is a great summer read.

How did the idea for this novel come to you?

“I’ve always had a deep interest in the modern history of Eastern Europe, where I was born and spent the majority of my childhood. The fate of my family is directly linked to the events of the Second World War and the ensuing Soviet occupation, so for me there will always be this natural desire to write about this corner of Europe and what ordinary people experienced there. The deeper inspiration, however, came to me quite by accident while I was researching Romania’s Second World War history for my first novel and came across an article entitled “The Forgotten Holocaust.” One in four people of Europe’s Roma population (its largest minority) perished at the hands of the Nazis, and yet this aspect of the Holocaust—as the article indicated—has been largely overlooked throughout the decades. I found myself thinking in the depth of night about the fate of the Romani and what they endured in the camps—about how, as a child growing up in Romania, I was so captivated by their soulful, beautiful music and independent spirit. I knew this was a story I had to tell.”

What sort of research did you do?

“Much of my research was done the old-fashioned way—by scouring history books and published research—but I really wanted to bring to life the events of the war and occupation in an organic way, through the eyes of those who lived through them. So I spent just as much time (if not more) immersed in personal essays and memoirs as well as archival video footage and filmed interviews. For me, these testimonials were like gold because they allowed me to tap into the hopefulness, heroism and pride of a people rising up against tyranny.”

You created a love triangle; did you know how it would resolve when you first started writing?

 “I did not. In fact, in earlier drafts, this book ended quite differently. Yet as the story deepened and both Eva and Aleandro took on new dimensions, I felt that I needed to change course. As writers, I think we experience that a lot. Characters evolve through rewrites, and they take us on a journey (as much as they do with readers) to their own rightful conclusion. I do have to say that at one point, as I was working on the final draft, the last line in the book simply came to me, and it just felt so right. After that, I sort of wrote the last portion of the book toward that ending line—and I’m so glad I did.”

Be sure to pick up When the Summer Was Ours before summer ends!