Alice Hoffman is known for her incredible fictional works, stories about magic, inspired by her days as a child getting lost in the world of fairy tales. Her novels are born out of creativity, adventure and the love of make believe, hope and interesting plots. Hoffman is an author who bases her stories on fiction, not real-life experiences, though all stories she says, “are written from the lens of the author.”
A book in the setting of the Holocaust was never something Hoffman had considered because of the darkness that surrounded that period. Even her Jewish heritage and her heart that felt empathy and compassion regarding the suffering that took place during World War II had not changed her feeling that a novel on this subject was not in her wheelhouse.
Several years ago, a woman waited outside a bookstore where Hoffman was speaking and held a book signing promoting one of her novels. The woman told Hoffman that she was a Holocaust survivor, shared her experiences and asked Hoffman to write the story of her life. “I don’t write nonfiction,” Hoffman explained, “I would love to write your story, but that is not something I typically do.” Hoffman let the woman down gently, and they parted ways.
The woman’s story remained in Hoffman’s heart and mind, and years later, she decided to interview additional Holocaust survivors and potentially write a novel that took place during the Holocaust. What Hoffman found that she didn’t expect, was “hope, compassion and love, … light and inspiration,” that shined out of great darkness. And so, the story of “The World That We Knew” was born.