Monday, April 28, 2014

Author Interview and Giveaway: Katia AND For Maria by Bruce Judisch

Welcome to Christian Book Review Blog, Bruce Judisch! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Well, there’s really only a bit to tell.    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.

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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.    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.

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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 …)  “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…)

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Please tell us about the featured book.

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?    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 
Frau Mahler, 
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… 
* * *
“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 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.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Aizess. It’s been fun.

Thank you for being with us today!

(This giveaway is only open to followers of Christian Book Review Blog, so be sure you are a follower!)
  Bruce has generously offered to giveaway TWO (print copy) sets of both Katia and For Maria to two special winners! Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Giveaway ends on Saturday May 10, 2014 at midnight (Eastern time). Thanks for coming by to enter!

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  1. Since my father fought in World War II and my parents married during the war, I love that time period. The history teacher in me likes to read historical fiction, and, the Christian in me tries to sort out those with profanity or steamy sex scenes. I am thankful for the Christian market and would be excited to win this giveaway.

  2. Hi, Janice (Great name! My son married a Janice :-) )

    My dad was a gunner/radioman in B-17s. It was truly the Greatest Generation. I sometimes think I was born a generation too late.

    "Katia" has its roots in WWII, but is predominantly about the Cold War in post-WWII East Berlin. "For Maria," like "Katia," has both a contemporary and historical storyline, and the historical story is very much WWII. It focuses on the "Kindertransport," if you've heard of that before, where thousands of Jewish, non-
    Aryan Christians, and other children separated from their interred parents (some of the children were rescued from the camps themselves) were spirited away from the gasp of the Nazis and sent to other countries to wait out the war and be reunite with their families. It was a very gripping story to tell.

    (Secret: I got all 13 of my grandchildren's names into the story of "Katia.") :-)

    Cheers! Bruce

  3. My favorite time period is the Regency era but I do enjoy reading about people and places during WWII. I like the idea that this book is combo contemporary and historical. Those usually turn out to be great books. My daughter also loves the WWII era best and I would love to be able to share these with her. Thanks for the opportunity!

    1. Anne, the Regency period does have an allure, doesn't it? :-) I also love the "hybrid" contemporary/historical genre. Hope you win and enjoy my attempts at it.

      (Secret: My 14th grandchild was born too late to get into "Katia." So, she's the heroine in my novel "Quimby Pond," currently under construction.

      Cheers! Bruce

  4. I do not recall learning much about WWII in school and so I read anything I can about that time period. I had an uncle who was in the Battle of the Bulge and he only spoke to me about it once, but I became more interested in this time in history after speaking with him and learning what it was like on the ground. He has now passed on, but he created a desire in me to know more about what happened in that war and so I enjoy reading anything written about that war and what happened. There are so many stories and so many countries it effected. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of your books and may God continue to bless you with your gift of writing!


    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Lorlyn. It was a fascinating time. My wife's brother-in-law lost his father in the Battle of the Bulge. A fateful last-ditch effort by the Nazi's to regain the offensive. I think you would enjoy "For Maria" from that perspective, although it's better to read "Katia" first.

      Cheers! Bruce

  5. The cover of your book is beautiful!! I love reading about world war 2
    My Grandpa served in world war 2. He was a weather service man.
    He loved every part of his job.
    So thankful for the hard work he did.

    1. Thanks, Danie. I like it too. Bless your grandpa for his service. It was an incredible era.

      Good luck in the drawing.

      Cheers! Bruce

  6. This sounds like a great book. So glad to be introduced to Bruce! pat at ptbradley dot com

    1. Thanks, Patricia. Both "Katia" and "For Maria" were joys write. Hope you win and get a chance to enjoy them.

      Cheers! Bruce

  7. I really like to read about the WWII era. My dad and uncles all served in that war & I have my mom's stories about home front living during that time. I look forward to reading your books that have a connection to that time period.

    1. It's a favorite era of mine, too, and there are some really great authors out there writing in it. Bless your family for their service. I hope you'll get the chance to read the stories.

      Cheers! Bruce

  8. I enjoy reading historical fiction, especially the time periods from the Civil War to the present day.
    Thanks for entering me in your giveaway.
    Janet Estridge.

    1. Hey, Janet! I remember you. :-) Historical fiction is clearly a love of mine, too--especially the "hybrids" that have both contemporary and historical storylines. Hope you get a chance to enjoy these too.

      Cheers! Bruce