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Fresh Fiction Blog
Get to Know Your Favorite Authors

Buzzy Jackson | The Most Wanted Woman in Holland

To Die Beautiful
Buzzy Jackson



Barnes & Noble

Powell's Books


Indie BookShop

May 2023
On Sale: May 2, 2023
448 pages
ISBN: 0593187210
EAN: 9780593187210
Add to Wish List

Also by Buzzy Jackson:
To Die Beautiful, May 2023
Shaking The Family Tree, July 2010


1--What is the title of your latest release?


2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

In Nazi-occupied Holland, shy law student Hannie Schaft surprises herself by joining the armed resistance to save her Jewish friends, becoming the Most Wanted Woman in Holland and risking everything to do the right thing for the people she loves. Based on the true story of Hannie Schaft.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

Hannie Schaft (and most of the other characters in the novel) were real people, and although Hannie is not well known outside The Netherlands, she is a hero there. I discovered her story on a visit to Amsterdam and, once I began working on the book, traveled to the real locations in the book to do research. Although my book is a novel, I tried to stick to the real places and events as much as possible, so they dictated the setting.

4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?

Oh yes - it would be an honor to know someone as brave, smart, and big-hearted as Hannie Schaft, not to mention Truus and Freddy Oversteegen, the amazing young sisters who worked with her in the Dutch Resistance.

5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?

Smart, Idealistic, Big-hearted

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

I learned that no act of generosity to others, no matter how small, is ever insignificant. Everything we do creates ripples outward.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

I subscribe to Anne Lamott’s “crappy first draft” ethos, so I try to just power through the first (crappy) draft, ignoring my inner critic, and then I do multiple editing passes (like, 40?) to make it better.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

I think shrimp fried rice and coffee ice cream are probably the perfect foods.

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Researching and writing this book took six years, during which I moved a lot. I wrote the book in a series of different spaces, including various kitchen tables, a temporarily uninhabited jewelry studio, a cabin in the woods, a screened porch, and I am now fortunate to write in a combination bedroom/office. and I love it. I was also fortunate to be a writer-in-residence at The Mount, the historic home of author Edith Wharton, in western Massachusetts, where I got to write in a room that used to be her husband’s (huge) closet!

10--Who is an author you admire?

Ralph Ellison… who only published one book during his lifetime (INVISIBLE MAN, 1952) but it was one of the greatest novels of the century.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion, not only because her writing is so clear and powerful, but because she was the first renowned author I ever read who included her own self-doubts and insecurities about her work in the writing itself. In her now-legendary opening essay, she writes, “all of [the essays] were hard for me to do, and took more time than perhaps they were worth… I sit in a room literally papered with false starts… I am bad at interviewing people.” Reading Didion helped me realize that having doubt about your own work is normal and not, in itself, a reason to stop doing it. You just have to keep going anyway.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.

For me, that moment was when I got an email from Molly Friedrich, who became my literary agent. After working on To Die Beautiful for five years, Molly was the first publishing professional who saw the value in what I had been doing. I woke up one morning to find an email from her telling me how much she loved the book – I was so excited I actually printed out the email and pinned it to my wall because I wanted to make sure it was real! It was an amazing feeling of satisfaction to realize someone else appreciated Hannie and her story as much as I did.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

I read widely, from poetry to popular science to history to fiction. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of mid-century American fiction (Flannery O’Connor, Jim Thompson, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Dorothy B. Hughes, Shirley Jackson) as research for my next novel.

14--What’s your favorite movie?

Maybe a tie between ELF and THE SHINING?

15--What is your favorite season?

Autumn, which my son refers to as “sad summer.” It’s the prettiest and the moodiest, and the best season to travel almost anywhere.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Ice cream cake

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

I’m an OG Murderino, so I have to shout out the My Favorite Murder podcast (I love true crime). One of my favorite recent movies was NOPE, which managed to be scary, funny, and incredibly beautiful simultaneously. On TV I recently finished the entire series of Better Call Saul and thought it was an absolute tour de force and unlike anything else on TV–smart, disturbing, and emotional. And I can’t wait for the next season of Succession.

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

If I could only eat in one restaurant for eternity, it would be a French bistro. I think I could survive on steak frites for a very long time. It would be terrific, though, if there were a Mexican restaurant next door.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

One of my favorite things to do, when I get the opportunity, is to go on a long road trip through the American West, where I live. At least once or twice a year I take a 2-5 day road trip, driving through the gorgeous landscape of the West and listening to audiobooks, music, and also working out my book plots in my head. I consider these road trips my version of a meditation retreat… fueled by M&Ms and a lot of Diet Coke.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

I’m currently at work on a new novel, one also inspired by real events and featuring a young, resourceful woman at the center. This book is based on several historic American true crimes and is set in mid-century America… I think of it as “Nancy Drew meets IN COLD BLOOD” (although it’s not based on that particular crime).

TO DIE BEAUTIFUL by Buzzy Jackson

To Die Beautiful

A heartrending novel based on a true story of love, loyalty, and the limits we confront when our deepest values are tested, by award-winning writer Buzzy Jackson

How far would you go to protect the people and country you love?

It’s 1940 and Hannie Schaft is a shy nineteen-year-old law student living in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands with ambitious goals for her future. But dreams die in wartime, and Hannie’s closest friends are no longer safe as fascism insidiously rises in her country. Hiding them is not enough. Hannie may be young but she can’t stand aside as the menace of Nazi evil tightens its grip. Driven by love and moral outrage, Hannie soon becomes an armed member of the Dutch Resistance movement.

Hannie discovers her own untapped ferocity—wearing lipstick and heels to lure powerful Nazis close and assassinate them at point-blank range, and bombing munitions factories. As humanity collapses around her, Hannie finds a chosen family of friends within the Resistance and falls in love with a dashing fellow resister at a tremendous cost. Her greatest weapon is her determination to "stay human" (blijf menselijk) . . . a promise increasingly difficult to keep.

As Hannie is drawn deeper into a web of plots, disguises and assassinations, whispers spread like wildfire among enemy and friend alike. They all know of her, if not her name: she’s “the Girl with Red Hair.” A match for any Nazi soldier. A true threat. And a target.

To Die Beautiful is a timely look at how fascism flourishes and what good people do to fight back. Based on real events, To Die Beautiful is told with the drama and emotional resonance of meticulously researched history.


Women's Fiction Historical [Dutton, On Sale: May 2, 2023, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780593187210 / ]

Buy TO DIE BEAUTIFULAmazon.com | BN.com | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Target.com |

About Buzzy Jackson

Buzzy Jackson

Buzzy Jackson grew up in the mountains (Truckee CA and Montana), lived all over the place (Iowa City, Perth Australia, Los Angeles, Barcelona, NYC, Berkeley, Cambridge MA, San Francisco, Oakland, Cape Town South Africa), and then moved back to the mountains again (Colorado), where she lives with her family and Ralph (a dog). She is the proud daughter of Motor City legend Ruth J. Hall and beloved mystery writer Jon A. Jackson.

To Die Beautiful is Buzzy’s debut novel and fourth book. She has a Ph.D. in History from UC Berkeley and is a member of the National Book Critics’ Circle. She is currently working on a new novel based on a historical American true crime.





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