It’s my pleasure to introduce Bruce Judisch this week.
Bruce will you tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a husband of one, father of three, and grandfather of fourteen. And if you don’t think *that* keeps me busy! J Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, I served 21 years in the US Air Force, living in California, Alaska (child #1), Texas (child #2), England (child #3), Crete (nope, all done), Germany, and Maryland.
My fiction includes a novelization of the minor prophet Jonah’s story, “A Prophet’s Tale” (currently in two parts; a third is planned), Katia and For
Maria, both described below. All have been published through a small traditional publisher, OakTara. I’ve also written several Bible studies (one of which is currently under edit for eBook), topical studies, and am published in a professional journal.
Please tell the readers about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
First of all, thanks so much, Mary, for hosting me. I hope I’ll have something of value—and fun—to leave with your readers.
At the risk of appearing to double-dip on your kind offer share my work, I’d like to involve two novels in my responses--Katia and For Maria—so closely are they tied together.
By all means Bruce I'm sure we would enjoy learning about both of these books.
Both books are hybrid contemporary/historical works, in that they have a modern-day storyline and a parallel mid-20th-century storyline. Katia centers on post-WWII and the Cold War in East Berlin, Germany, and For Maria deals with the “Kindertransport,” 1934-1945, during which thousands of children were saved from concentration camps and fostered overseas to await reunion with their families. The contemporary storylines in both novels feature Madeline “Maddy” McAllister, an exchange student in Katia and young journalist in For Maria. She is the prime driver of the crux events in both stories.
Katia was motivated by a scene I witnessed living in Berlin in 1989 at the fall of the Berlin Wall. For Maria follows the story of twin infant girls, briefly introduced in Katia, as they transit Europe in the Kinder transport.
Bruce, how did you decide on the setting? Did you need to do research?
Both the contemporary and historical settings for Katia were driven by the circumstances surrounding the Berlin Wall, which, of course, dictated placement in Berlin. There was some academic research involved; however, I was eyewitness to many of the events in the story—which made it easier and a lot of fun to write.
The historical setting of For Maria is wide ranging, covering Poland, Austria, France, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. The contemporary setting takes place in Madeline’s hometown: Saginaw, Michigan, and my hometown, San Antonio, Texas. I have no idea why I chose Saginaw, other than it stuck with me after hearing it many years ago in the Paul Simon song, America. Deep, huh? Research on For Maria was time intensive and
emotionally exhausting. The greatest joy was befriending some of the alumni of the Kindertransport, now in their 80s, whom I interviewed. It’s largely their story I tell.
How long did it take to write the book, including preliminary work?
Amazingly, I wrote the first draft of Katia in 30 days (76.5K words). The story
just flowed from the pen...er, the keyboard. Of course, editing it into readability
took a year, but that’s not too bad for a part-time author. The story was a joy to write and is still my wife, Jeannie’s, favorite.
For Maria was a different story, literally. It took about a year and a half to complete a satisfactory first draft. The research time and emotional investment I alluded to earlier
contributed to that. A few times I had to step away from the manuscript for a couple of weeks, just to clear my head.
I understand that. Often writing drains us.
Many authors say the novel has a voice all its own. Did the plot change once your characters started forming the story?
Oh, yes! I’m mostly a seat-of-the-pants writer. If the characters don’t chime in, the story doesn’t get written. I love the first (and last) lines from the movie Miss Potter, in which Rene Zellweger, as the title character Beatrix Potter utters, “There's something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they will take you.” How true! If you haven’t seen Miss Potter, oh my, you must!
Tell us how you choose the names of your characters?
Okay, confession time. I managed to get 13 of my grandchildren’s names into Katia,
and some in the carry-over to For Maria. Little Gwendolyn, alas, #14, didn’t make her appearance until after publication. Watch for her in the next one.
The title character in Katia was determined for me by the scene that inspired it (check the Katia page on my website). Maria, in For Maria, is a carry-over from Katia. Neither of those are grandchildren’s names, though.
What genre is you favorite to write and why?
I love the hybrid contemporary/historical, with a little heavier preference for the historical.
I believe foremost that a novel should entertain, but running a close second is that the reader should learn something, gain something of value to take away from a story above just a cozy feeling. Perhaps to be better for having read it. I hope my books do both of those things—entertain and educate. Perhaps some of your readers will tell me how well I
I'm sure many readers are interested in learning more about you. Do you have a homepage where they can do so?
My books—and a really cool quote by Sir Winston Churchill—can be found
Just click a cover on the homepage and it’ll take you to a page devoted
to that book. On the Katia page, there’s a link to an interview our local CBS affiliate did with me when the book was released. Folks might enjoy seeing that for some nice insight into the story.
Bruce it’s great to have you on my blog this week. I know many readers will look forward to learning more about you and your books.
Thanks, Mary. This has been fun. I hope to chat with some of your readers in the
Comments section. In fact, to help that along, why don’t I offer a set of Katia and For
Maria in a giveaway drawing of folks who comment on the questions,
“What is the most important thing you expect of a novel? How about the second most important thing?” That’s always a great topic.
A give-away sounds like a wonderful Idea. I’ll spread the word. Readers’ do you want a chance to win? What are your thoughts to the questions?
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