Well, there’s really only a bit to tell. J First things first: I’m 41 years married to my high school sweetheart, Jeannie, a father of three, and a grandfather of fourteen. In a second career after retiring from the Air Force, I’m just sorting out how this writing thing fits into everything.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
When Jeannie told me I did. (See, I told you I was 41 years married…) Seriously, I was developing and teaching a course through the Old Testament minor prophets, and, when I introduced the study on Jonah to my class, I said, “If I were ever to write a novel, it would be on Jonah.” I had no intention of writing a novel, but Jeannie elbowed me in the ribs—gently, of course—after class and said, “Well…?” From that, “A Prophet’s Tale” was born.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
I love historical fiction; the research, going back in time, getting a sense of what things were like during that era. I particularly love the “hybrid” contemporary-historical genre, where there’s a modern-day storyline that either parallels or complements the historical tale. Susan Meissner is a master of this (The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting). Both Katia and For Maria are written in the contemporary-historical genre.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I’m not sure I can nail it down to just one, nor am I sure that have overcome it yet. J I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, with all the joy and frustration that entails. Paired with a full-time job that inhibits a regular writing schedule, there are obstacles galore.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
Writing enhances my life, but it doesn’t define me. I’ve read some authors who started much earlier in life than I did say they can’t imagine not writing, that they have stories they just must tell. And that’s great; more power to them. But that’s not really me. Having said that, with the vast amount of time and energy it takes to produce a manuscript, the emotional investment in the story, learning the craft, marketing the final product, collaborating with other authors—and so much more—writing can’t help but change your life, if taken seriously.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
Oh, my. To say there is only one would be to admit that I’ve spent very little time in Scripture. Current life circumstances nudge various passages closer to the top of the list. This may sound odd, but I use Scripture references for my computer passwords (very secure), and it’s always of interest to me to discover, when prompted to create or change a password, which passages first come to mind. That’s telling of what might be going on in my life at that particular time.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
Oh, my. To say there is only one would be to admit that I’ve spent very little time reading. (Oops! Sorry, I think I already said something like that …J) “Truly spectacular” you say? How can the Bible not be at the top of the list? But then what? Fiction? (Depth of the storyline? Quality of the prose? Memorable characters?) Nonfiction? (Impact of the events? Inspiration of the subject? Again, quality of the prose?) Wow, I can’t even begin to decide which one would come in second.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Wow, where do I start? I suspect that a list of un-quirky things I’ve done would actually be shorter than a list of my quirky ones. Being a seat-of-the-pants writer, you have to have some quirkiness to surrender the manuscript so the characters will write the story for you. That way you can blame them if the book flops. There, is that quirky enough? (Hint: ask a writer who outlines…)
Lost Loves of WWII is a Barbour Publishing collection of three novels, two of which are mine: Katia and For Maria (click hyperlinks for reader reviews). Katia is perhaps my favorite of the books I’ve written (it’s certainly my wife’s favorite), and, although it deals more with the Cold War than WWII, it does have roots in that war. It’s a contemporary-historical novel with one storyline in the present and the other in the mid-20th century. For Maria is the sequel to Katia, also a contemporary-historical, and the historical storyline is definitely WWII. There’s also a third novel in the collection: The Train Baby's Mother by Sharon Bernash Smith, which promises to be a great read. Three novels for the price of one, I think, is a pretty good deal.
Can you please give us the first page?
Since there are two of my stories in this collection, I get two pages, right? J Okay, we’ll compromise; a page and a half. I’ll give the prologue to For Maria, since it’s a complete chapter.
1 March 1940
I hope this letter finds you well. I have received no response to my letter of last December regarding your sister’s baby girls. I can only hope it reached you, and that your response is en route. I fear, though, that there may not be time to await its arrival.
Our apartment is being watched, as are so many others in this district. Rósa and I leave for Salzburg tomorrow evening…
* * *
“…AND THEY HIDE IN THE SHADOWS LIKE RATS.”
“Stay back from the window, Rósa. If they see you, they may come before we’re ready.”
Rósa Dudek eased the curtain closed and rubbed her thin arms against the damp cold permeating the front room of their tiny second-floor apartment. The chill crept inward from the tips of her frail fingers and numbed her bony hands, triggering a dull ache in her arthritic joints. She shivered and pulled a threadbare woolen shawl tighter around her shoulders. Her wistful gaze flicked to a small fireplace, empty but for the powdery residue of last month’s coal, now too costly to replace.
“What are you writing, Gustaw?”
Her husband laid his pen onto the table and ran his fingers through thinning black hair. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he blew into them, then flexed his stiff fingers next to three stubby candles sprouting from a triple brass candle holder on the table. A weary halo shrouded the sickly yellow flames and cast weak shadows across peeling floral wallpaper and a pockmarked tabletop. The jaundiced glow accented the deep creases in Gustaw’s lean tired face. He coughed.
“I write again to the Mahlers in Berlin.”
“But why? They didn’t respond to your first letter.”
“I know they didn’t respond, but I don’t know why. The post is slow since the Germans invaded. There could be many reasons.” He lifted his gaze. “And we must do everything we can to return the girls to their family.”
Rósa clutched her arms around her slight waist. “Perhaps they’ve left Berlin. Or maybe they don’t want the children.”
Gustaw paused, then rose from his chair and took his wife into his arms. He kissed her forehead. “You understand we must return them, don’t you?”
Her eyes brimmed as he caressed her cheek.
“God has withheld children from us for reasons only he knows, Rósa, and lacking a son or a daughter does not lessen my love for you, you know that. I’m becoming attached to the twins, too, but we cannot take another family’s children for our own. God would never honor such a thing.”
“Of course I know this,” she sniffled. “But they’re so beautiful, and they look at me as though…” Her chest convulsed, and she rested her forehead on her husband’s shoulder. He let her release, as he had so often over the past twenty-five years at yet another month’s reminder that motherhood had eluded her.
“Rósa, it’s time we must—”
They stiffened at a tapping on the wall. Three taps, followed by two. Then silence.
Gustaw rushed to the table and blew out the candles. He stuffed the unfinished letter and envelope into his jacket pocket. “Get the children. Now!”
Where can readers learn more information about you?
I have a website at www.brucejudisch.com. If you click on one of the book covers, it will take you to a page dedicated to that book. The exception to that is the cover of Lost Loves, since it’s a compilation. Click on the Katia and For Maria covers for their respective pages to see what’s in Lost Loves.
I’d love to hear from any of your readers through the Contact Me link at the bottom of each of my Web pages. I give discounts for signed copies cheaper than the cover prices.