Bruce Judisch is a senior analyst on contract to the Department of Defense. He has authored both non-fiction (Bible studies and professional articles) and fictional works which are featured here. He reviews Christian fiction on his blog “It Is To Write” (www.brucejudisch.blogspot.com) and details his fictional work on his Web site at www.brucejudisch.com. Bruce and the wife of his youth in whom he delights, Jeannie, are high-school sweethearts, parents of three, and grandparents of fourteen. Celebrating their 40th year of marriage this December, they live in San Antonio, Texas.
Bruce is giving way a copy of his book Katia. Answer the question, "When you read a historical novel, what do you most expect to get out of it? An escape? Learn something new about the subject or era? Is it more a serious endeavor for you, or strictly entertainment?" to be entered to win.
Where are you right now (LVR, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.
I’m in a restaurant in Alexandria, VA—and appropriately dressed (even for Alexandria). Trust me on this. J
Do your characters ever give you surprises when you are writing? Can you give us an example if they do and if they don’t do you know why?
Oh, my goodness. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. If my characters never surprised me, there would be no surprises at all (with all due respect to outliners). I think the most memorable character-surprise came in The Journey Begun, part one of “A Prophet’s Tale.” Late in the book, I introduced a character who I originally intended to have a minuscule part—little more than a prop—at the very end of a scene. As I was typing, he jumped up and did something completely unexpectedly. I sat back from the keyboard and thought, “Okay, so what was that all about?” Perplexed, I leaned forward and began pounding keys again, just to see what he’d do. He ended up as the antagonist in perhaps the most climactic scene of the book. And I never did give him a name; his punishment for stealing my plotline from me.
If you could be any character in any literary book who would you be and why?
Wow, what a question. Hold on, let me think a minute. Okay, I’ve got it. I would be Paris, in The Iliad. After all, he got Helen, right? Oh, okay, he loses a duel (I’m not much at fencing, either), but no one less than Aphrodite rescues him and he’s back with Helen. I mean, think about that: Helen…Aphrodite. My guy card is secure!
In all honesty, the above clearly betrays me to be better suited to Walter Mitty. Think?
What is something that very few people know about you?
Unfortunately, too few people—i.e., book-buying readers—know that I’m an author.
What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: ipod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)
Hmmm…at the risk of seeming melodramatic, my mom died when I was 12 years old. My dad had her wedding ring resized and made into a man’s pinky ring. Years later, he gave it to me. I love it so much that I gave it to my son shortly after he married. I feel like, in a very significant way, I still own it.
If you could meet any person alive or dead who would that be and why? (excluding the Lord)
I hope this isn’t cheating, but I’d really like to see my mom again. I’d like her to know her efforts weren’t entirely in vain—or at least give her a chance to judge that for herself.
What is the funniest, strangest, or most interesting thing you have learned when doing research?
Boy, are you good at questions. Since I write historical fiction, I do an awful lot of research. I would have to say that, when working on For Maria, the personal contacts I made were the most interesting and the most satisfying—to the extent that I’ve formed great friendships with a couple of my sources. To explain, the historical portion of the novel (For Maria is a hybrid contemporary-historical, as is its prequel, Katia) deals with the Kindertransport. For those not familiar with the term, it refers to the efforts carried out from 1934-1945 to rescue displaced children—most Jewish, but not all—from the clutches of the Nazis and bring them to places like South America, North America, Palestine, and even China. There they awaited reunion with their families, who were incarcerated in the concentration camps, at the conclusion of the war. Needless to say, most of those reunions never took place. Two of my sources were alumni of the Kindertransport, the only members of their families to survive the Holocaust (if you look closely, you’ll see the name of one on the front cover of the book). There was an interesting response to some of my probing for information. Most of those involved were very supportive of my project. One, though, was very resistant, claiming that fictionalizing their story would somehow demean it. I tried to assure her that was the opposite of my intention, that I wanted to bring honor to those who suffered as she did, but I don’t think I convinced her. Interestingly, she was one of the fortunate few who actually was reunited with her parents.
If you were writing a book about your life what would the title be?
Gee, I Wonder How This is Going to End Up
If you could have written any piece of literature in history, be it books, speech, poetry, what piece would you want to say Written By Authors Name here
An Essay on Criticism, by Alexander Pope, 1711. Not that I’d want to steal it from him, but would that I could so beautifully express myself as did he.
December, 1939: The Gestapo haul Izaak and Maria Szpilmann away to the Lublin concentration camp, leaving their twin infant daughters behind to die. But the twins do not die. Rescued by a neighbor couple, Gustaw and Ròsa Dudek, they escape occupied Poland to Salzburg, Austria. They are not heard from again.
Today: Maria Szpilmann has survived Lublin, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. She is now grandmother to Madeline Sommers, a young journalist who, despite the odds, passionately clings to the belief that the lost twins are still alive. She makes it her single-focused mission to find and reunite them with her failing grandmother before it’s too late
“Seek the truth, embrace the pain, cherish the freedom.”
Spirited Madeline “Maddy” McAllister is a twenty-one year-old journalism major completing her year as an exchange student at the Freie Universität, in Berlin, Germany. She has a career to launch.
Stalwart Katia Mahler is a sixty year-old German invalid who grew up in post-World War II East Berlin. She has a story to tell.
Enigmatic Oskar Schultmann brings together the journalist and the storyteller. Maddy’s task: to chronicle Katia Mahler’s life.
All three of them discover more to Katia’s story than they bargained for.
Cultures and generations clash, as the young American and the German matron strive to understand each other’s present and past. Maddy learns more than a personal history; Katia receives more than a memoir. And always in the background is Oskar, who gets drawn into the story in ways he never intended.
Peek behind the Iron Curtain and over the Berlin Wall as Katia’s story—the story of a lost generation from a failed state—comes to life through the scribbled notes of a girl struggling to grasp the significance of what she has written for her own life as well as for future generations.
Want to see what other books Bruce has out there? Take a peek below.
Amittai: First Call
A naïve and tentative Jonah ben Amittai witnesses the horror of Assyrian warfare at tender age and it changes his life. Elihu, King Jehu's young armor bearer, shares this raw experience, but comes away with a different perspective. Throughout their lives, the points of view these closest of friends clash and complement―and by God's grace, they complement at just the right time.
God commissions Jonah to preach in Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2). However, repulsed by his hatred for the Assyrians, and prodded by a demon who has no intention of letting a prophet of God onto her Mesopotamian turf, Jonah flees to Joppa. In his rebellion, a series of misadventures befalls him: separation from his family, estrangement from his best friend, betrayal of another friend and entrapment with a young orphan forced into harlotry. In Joppa, he boards the Ba'al Hayam―a ship with a past of its own―bound for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). After his harrowing escape from the storm at sea, the angel re-commissions him to preach in Nineveh (Jonah 1:4-3:2); however, the angel informs him, "There are wrongs to right that are added to your journey." Jonah retraces his steps back to his home in Gath-hepher where his most poignant task awaits him: reconciliation with his family.
The Word Fulfilled
Israel. A prophet endures unimaginable hardships on his journey to deliver a message of hope to Assyria. Dark forces dog his every step while angels protect the word he carries.
Nineveh. A young girl’s coming-of-age ritual goes terribly wrong. A priestess would have the maiden as her own, but a 'goddess' has different plans. The unlikely love of a young man becomes the girl’s only hope.