Setting THE DEBT
TAMAR in a single location was really never in the cards for this novelist! As
adventure buff and travel enthusiast, I knew that wherever I sent my characters, I’d
trekking there as well. Besides, don’t they say you never really know a person until
you walk a mile in their shoes?
With that in mind, I set out to truly get to know my characters by doing what I
to follow in their footsteps, to be where they’ve been and see what they’ve seen.
Whether by sheer imagination, plane or train, here are the destinations I visited
with my characters while penning my debut novel, THE DEBT OF
Lisbon, Portugal: The heart of one of the wealthiest colonial empires in
history, and the oldest city in Western Europe, legend has it that this majestic
was founded by none other than Greek king of Ithaca, Ulysses. Home base to some of
greatest explorers and travel expeditions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,
also the site of some of the most horrific religious persecution of the time, Lisbon
serves as the setting for the fiery auto de fe scene in the opening chapter
Venice, Italy: As my characters trek east along rocky mountain terrain to
the persecution of Inquisition authorities in Portugal, one of their most memorable
stops is in the ancient city of Mestre, situated in the modern-day Italian province
Veneto. In its heyday, Venice was the capital of a major maritime power. Situated on
group of over 100 small islands linked by bridges and snaking lagoons, “The Floating
City” was and is the perfect place to get lost in. Spend a few days exploring this
magical city by gondola, and don’t forget to visit the centuries-old clock tower
mentioned in the novel!
Istanbul, Turkey: The setting at the heart of my novel, I had the privilege
visiting Istanbul on four different occasions while conceiving of and writing THE DEBT OF
A cosmopolitan city where East meets West, this capital of a former Islamic Empire
the epicenter of some of the most progressive thinking and inclusive attitudes of
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the ultimate destination for tens of
of Jews fleeing Inquisition persecution at the time. Today it is a dynamic
with everything to offer to a modern-day explorer: world-class restaurants, a
nightlife scene, and an abundance of historical and cultural sites. Not to be missed
are the gardens and pavilions of Topkapi Palace, the centuries-old home of Ottoman
rulers and their families throughout history, which also serves as the setting for
of the most dramatic and romantic scenes in THE DEBT OF TAMAR.
Paris, France: When most people think of “The City of Light,” literary
brilliance, Impressionist art, and timeless romance are some of the first things
come to mind. Yet there is also a darker side of the city’s past not often talked
about. Complicit in Nazi war crimes during World War II, Parisian authorities were
active in the rounding up, deportation, and murder of tens of thousands of Jews who
considered Paris their home. If you’re lucky to travel to Paris, visit some of the
sights mentioned in the book, such as the world famous Luxembourg Gardens and Le
Marais, the Jewish Quarter. Pay tribute to the nearly 14,000 Jews who lost their
lives after being imprisoned for days without food or water in the Vélodrome
d’hiver sports stadium, where a monument to the victims stands today.
Tiberias, Israel: A fishing town situated along the banks of the Sea of
this magical village is revered by Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike. Take a boat
ride on the same waters Christians believe Jesus once walked upon. Enjoy strolling
along the promenade or through the bustling bazaars, but whatever you do, don’t miss
The Dona Gracia museum, dedicated to the life and legacy of its namesake, the
inspirational sixteenth-century heroine who rescued countless Jews during the
Inquisition, and served as the inspiration for the protagonist in THE DEBT OF
So where would you like to travel to in my next novel?
Connect with me on Facebook and send me your suggestions!
Nicole Dweck holds a BA in Journalism and a Master's Degree in Global Affairs
from NYU. When THE DEBT OF TAMAR, her debut novel, was self-published, it was a
Today bestseller and received honorable mention in Writer's Digest's Self-
Published Book Awards. She lives in New York City with her husband and their
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Bestselling author Nicole Dweck brings to life one of history's greatest yet
overlooked stories of love and resilience.
In 2002, thirty-two-year-old Selim Osman, the last descendant of Ottoman Sultan
Suleiman the Magnificent, flees Istanbul for New York. In a twist of fate he meets
Hannah, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an artist striving to understand a
father she barely knows. Unaware that the connection they share goes back centuries,
the two feel an immediate pull to one another. But as their story intertwines with
of their ancestors, the heroic but ultimately tragic decision that bound two
centuries ago ripples into the future, threatening to tear Hannah and Selim apart.
From a 16th-century harem to a seaside village in the Holy Land, from Nazi-occupied
Paris to modern- day Manhattan, Nicole Dweck's THE DEBT OF TAMAR weaves a
tapestry of love, history, and fate that will enchant readers from the very first
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