Jennifer Chiaverini on computer programming and the Nazi resistance

We’re so thrilled that Jennifer Chiaverini will join us for this year’s Opus & Olives. In preparation for the big event, we asked Jennifer a few questions to help fans get to know her better. This is an #opusexclusive.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.

My first publication, in 1982, was not fiction but a BASIC computer program that won third place in 80 Micro Magazine’s Young Programmer’s Contest. This nicely foreshadowed my novel Enchantress of Numbers—the story of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer—published thirty-five years later.

What do you want people to know about this book?

What I found most remarkable about Mildred Fish Harnack’s anti-Nazi resistance circle was that at a time when the Reich vigorously strove to limit women’s roles in society to Kinder, Kirche, Küche (Children, Church, Kitchen), nearly half of the Rote Kapelle were women. Although most of the strategic decisions were made by the group’s male leaders, Arvid Harnack and Harro Schulze-Boysen, the women assumed responsibility for recruiting members, organizing meetings, collecting intelligence, acting as couriers, translating, copying, distributing leaflets, concealing radios and other illicit equipment, sheltering fugitives, and many other activities that put their lives at risk, often to a greater extent than their male counterparts. Of the forty-five members of the Rote Kapelle who received death sentences in the Nazi courts, nineteen were women—courageous women from all walks of life, not trained spies or armed soldiers, but ordinary and extraordinary women who risked everything to fight injustice and defend the persecuted.

Tell us what you love about libraries.

I’ve loved libraries ever since I learned to read. When I was growing up in Michigan, every Saturday, my mom would take me to the Waterford Public Library, where I would check out stacks of books and devour them in a week. It was there that the wonderful children’s librarians introduced me to the books and authors who later inspired me to become a writer. My first job was as a page at the Grant R. Brimhall Library in Thousand Oaks, California. I worked part-time at the library all through high school and on summer breaks from college, and I loved it—not only because I was surrounded by books all day, but because of the intelligent, passionate readers I worked with. We discussed literature, the arts, education, politics, and social issues, and we recommended books and music to one another. It was a very exciting, formative experience for me, an important part of my education.

Meet Jennifer and the rest of our bestselling lineup in person on October 13 at the RiverCentre in downtown Saint Paul!