Monday, August 6, 2012

Katia by Bruce Judisch Ends August 13th

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” ( and details his fictional work on his Web site at  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.

For Maria
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.

The Journey Begun
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.


  1. Okay, these sound amazing. I have always loved reading stories, fiction or non, about Holocaust survivors. Fascinating and important time in history.
    and the fact that my mother almost named me Katya only makes it better. Is it overkill to mention my married name is Maher? LOL

    Great interview. Debbie Lynne always asks the best questions, and each author brings their own unique flair to the blog.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. No overkill at all on Maher. Good strong Irish name. ;o)thanks so much for coming by!

    2. Thanks for commenting, Kathy. Cool, the 'almost-namesake' thing. :-)

      Good news on "For Maria": I just finished editing the proofs and sent them back to my publisher this evening. Hopefully, the book will be available within the next month or so.

      Cheers! Bruce

  2. I am totally with you on the what is something people don't know about you. Your books sound most interesting. the twins story has me intrigued.

    I suppose I read with an idea toward having an escape when I read, but I also like to learn about history when I do.

    Thank you so much for an informative interview

    1. Thanks for coming by Tina. I'm totally escape when I read, unless I'm doing research. But I do enjoy the historical tidbits I learn along the way.

    2. Thanks, Tina. Yup, self-promotion/marketing is definitely not my forte. ;-) I loved writing "Katia." The first draft only took 30 days to get onto paper. Of course, it took a year to get it presentable, but hey... :-)

      "For Maria" was different. Emotionally exhausting and research intensive, it took well over a year to get the first draft completed. There were times I had to set the manuscript aside for a couple of weeks just to take a break. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, though. Hope readers are, too. ;-)

      Cheers! Bruce

  3. For historical fiction I would like to be transported to the time and place with accuracy based on solid research. The characters must have depth along with a believable story. I would not want to be distracted by the setting. It must be subtle, but noticeable enough to give atmosphere. I want to be included on the route the character travels as if I am a freckle on their nose.

    Is it greedy to want to win a second book by this author? If so, you may exclude me from the contest since I have won one book from Bruce Judisch already. But it would be great to win another :-).

    Blessings, Janice jsmithg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. Not greedy at all, Janice. Says a lot for Bruce's writing. A large compliment. Will be putting your name in the hat. I love what you said about settings being subtle. That's me all the way! Good Luck

    2. Thanks for commenting, Janice--again. :-) I love characterization, and I hope "For Maria" won't disappoint you. The main character of the historical storyline was a complex figure to write. I still love her. :-)

      Cheers! Bruce

  4. I enjoyed the interview - thank you. I have never read any of Bruce's books, but they sound good and I am intrigued by the World War II history. It was a tragic time in our history, but one I never get tired of learning about. I would enjoy reading this book. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.


    1. Hey Lori,

      Thanks for coming by. World War II was tragic. Thankfully that was before my time because even reading about it is heart wrenching. I can't imagine living through it and feeling so helpless.

    2. Thanks, Lori. I love The Greatest Generation era, too; it's a favorite. "For Maria" probably won't be my last journey there. :-)

      Cheers! Bruce

  5. Thank you for the wonderful Interview, I never read any of Bruce's Books but that will change now. The Book Katia sounds sounds so good. I love reading Books about WWII, I just got done reading War Brides by Helen Bryan" and this was also so good. Please add me to your Giveaway, i would love to win.


    1. Hi, Ingrid. "Katia" touches WW II, but is primarily Cold War. The historical segment of "For Maria" covers 1939-1941, though. Both were exciting projects, but as I indicated in my reply above, completely different in their effects on me. Writing is so cool... :-)

      Cheers! Bruce

  6. Please enter me to win. This book interests me. When I read a historical book, I expect to learn something about the area and be drawn into the characters in that setting.
    jrs362 at hotmail do com

    1. It's the goal of any author to fulfill your expectation. If we fail to transport you into the story, we've failed completely in our endeavor. I hope I succeed with any of my books you might read.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Cheers! Bruce

  7. Hey, in case anybody's interested, I'd be happy to send a set of "A Prophet's Tale" to a winner out of those who comment their interest. Just thought it might be fun...

    (Sorry, Debbie, I didn't coordinate this with you. Thought it would be okay, though.)

    Cheers! Bruce

  8. When I read historical fiction, it's VERY important to me that the book not contradict history...ha-ha, unless it means someone I like has to die or something. Lol. Still, my dad was a history major, so I don't like being able to spot obvious historical fallacies. I love it when a book is both GOOD and BELIEVABLE, which is hard for a writer to pull off. I like them to really have a good hold on their characters.

    Wow, I'm very interested in your writing, Bruce! First, I'd like to read "For Maria" b/c I'm trying to write a book set in pre-war Germany that will run through the end of the war. They all sound intriguing though!


  9. Wonderful, Teddy! I wish you all the best in your writing. My next novel is a little off the European path, as it is set in Rangeley, Maine, but I fully expect to return to Europe at some point in the future. I hope you'll discover that "For Maria" is believable (and, of course, good). Much of it is based upon historically verifiable occurences, although I've injected my fictitious characters into it. The Author's Notes at the end of the book explain much of that.

    Again, all the best in your writing.

    Cheers! Bruce

  10. Having been unfamiliar with Bruce's books, I feel I've missed something intriguing. Sorry Bruce, I intend to rectify my ignorance! LOL I enjoy historical novels because of the knowledge I can learn. I have a granddaughter named "Katia," and will probably imagine her in that role when I am blessed to read your book. I also expect a story I can't put down and it needs to be entertaining to read. Thank you for this giveaway and the chance to win a great read.

    Blessed by Grace,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10@ tx dot rr dot com

    1. Barbara,

      Thanks so much for commenting. I love your granddaughter already. :-) I hope you'll enjoy the story. It was a joy to write.

      Cheers! Bruce