An Interview with Author Rose Ross

Photo by Tim Stepien/Coastal Star

Rose Ross was the first child born in the Neustadt, Germany displaced persons camp (1946). “Growing up in the Bronx, the only child of Holocaust survivors, affected me deeply, filling up my mind and the very air I breathed, ” says Ross. “Their story, and the stories of other survivors, and the second generation of the children I grew up with were the motivation for Lila – my first novel at age 73!”

Ross, a former actress, was a Board Member of Stageworks/Hudson and The Chatham Film Club/FilmColumbia Film Festival, a nationally recognized film event, known as “Cannes in the Hudson.” She continues today as an active participant in film-related programs in Delray Beach. She is the author of Tar Beach Memories, a screenplay about growing up in the Bronx. Ross is currently working on a stage play exploring the relationship with her mother, set in the safety of movie theaters, over a period of 40 years.

Please visit her website at

Q: Can you sum up LILA in 20 words or less?

LILA is about the experiences and complexities of coming of age, complicated by parents forever scarred by the Holocaust.

Q: What motivated you to write this book?

LILA is a story that has been with me for a very long time. As an only child of survivors, I was always privy to stories told at the Friday night card games my parents would host with other survivors. I would have my place of honor seated on a small plastic chair and table next to my mother. While I colored with crayons, I listened to their stories about the camps. Then later at night, while my parents thought I was asleep, they would have their quiet talks, sometimes interrupted by my mother’s tears. As I got older, I started to have my own stories, experiences, fantasies, dreams, and nightmares. Too afraid to share them with anyone, I collected them and put them into an imaginary suitcase. Until I was an adult, I realized how lonely growing up was and how difficult it was to live with secrets.

Q: Did you find it challenging to write such a personal story?

There was a lot of fact checking and cross referencing of events and timelines using literature previously published The actual challenge was trying to figure out how I was going to write Lila. Once I decided to use  Point of View style for each of the three characters, it flowed.

Q: Was there anything you learned or took away from the experience of working on LILA?

The benefits of being older are that there is little that I am afraid of telling. I can now be truthful without fear, and that is incredibly freeing.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the picture on the cover?

Once I was mentally committed to writing Lila, the memory of the cover photo immediately came to mind. After searching through my mother’s many albums, I found it and knew at once that nothing else would do. The expression on the girls’ faces spoke to me in volumes.

Q: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers?

Rewarding and incredibly surprising! I have had readers of all ages and backgrounds. The emails, discussions, book groups that I have engaged with have taught me more about how coming of age, regardless of the history or experience, is relatable to everyone.

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Q: What inspires you to write?

My mother.  Growing up, I craved to know what her family was like, who she was before the war, what her dreams were, was she happy, sad, and ever in love? In  2001, my mother said she was ready to speak. Three days later, I flew to Miami, where she lived. For two weeks, I recorded her thoughts and memories. We cried and laughed. On the day I was ready to go home to New York, we spoke about my coming back in a month to continue our conversations. As I was packing, my mother put on the television, and we watched in horror the Twin Towers come down. It was the morning of 9/11. My mother remained silent as we watched the tragic events of the day. In my heart, I believe it was the day that she started to die. My mother passed away in April 2002, a month after her 80th birthday. 

Q: What was the most challenging part about writing this book?

To be true to me.

Q: What is on your current reading list?

Re-reading The Holocaust Kid by Sonia Pilcer, originally published in 2001, the first book I read on “2G” Second-generation. Next will be Unstoppable by Joshua M. Greene and  Hamnet by Maggie O’ Farrell.

Q: What is your next writing project?

Currently, I am working on a screenplay adaption of LILA and a stage play about my mother and me at the movies, the one place that she felt comfortable enough revealing herself to me, little by little, film by film.

Q: Can you provide your web address and links to your social media profiles for the audience? Amazon,  Amazon Author page,  Facebook, Goodreads, LILA: A Conversation Between Generations, WNBA, Women’s National Book Association South Florida

Q: Any closing remarks?

I have learned since becoming a writer that there is a fine line between truth and fiction. Lila is a story that is both. Growing up is at best complex; growing up as children of Holocaust survivors is even more so. Some second-generation children could escape the shadow of their parent’s suffering; for others, their parent’s experiences led them unknowingly into early maturity.

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