Readers, I met Bruce when he was a speaker for our local ACFW chapter and became intrigued by his stories. His book just came on Saturday, so I haven’t read the stories yet.
Welcome, Bruce. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suppose there are bits and pieces of me in most of my characters—some more than others, of course. I think what I more like to do is have my characters face significant emotional events that I’ve faced in my life and see how they handle them. If they do well, I’ve written into them more of who I’d like to be than who I actually am.
What is the quirkiest thing you have 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…)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When my wife told me I was one. Seriously, I was introducing study through the book of Jonah to my Sunday School class, and I said, “If I were ever to write a novel, it would be about Jonah.” She elbowed me in the ribs after class and said, “Well…?” That gentle prodding gave birth to A Prophet’s Tale.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love to read (and write) contemporary-historical fiction, a hybrid where the two storylines parallel or complement each other. Susan Meissner is a master of this (e.g., The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting). Historical fiction is next, and there are so many incredible authors in this genre I can’t begin to name them. The list scatters from there, where writing quality quickly overshadows genre. In the non-fiction realm, biographies and expository Biblical commentaries top the list.
I loved both of those books by Susan. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’ve never claimed to have kept my sanity. In fact, I’m not convinced I ever started out with any.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Oh, fun! Character names are really important. Although this may sound like I was groping, I got all 13 of my grandchildren’s names (or derivations of them) in Katia. And it worked really well. My 14th grandchild didn’t make it in time before the book was released, so I’ve named the female lead in my current manuscript after her. Other characters, well, I agonize over them. The names need to be comfortable, memorable, and fit the character for the reader. I just go through name combinations until I hit what I think is a winner.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve been married to my high-school sweetheart for over 41 years. The pride is in that I’ve managed not to chase her away in all this time. But then, maybe the pride should really be in her perseverance…
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A dog. I’d like to love and trust that completely, unconditionally, and without restraint.
What is your favorite food?
Easy: pizza. Nature’s perfect food. It has all the major food groups: carbs, fat … you know.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I’m neither sure how to describe it, nor do I believe I’ve overcome it—yet. Cec Murphey once told me the greatest compliment he’d ever received on his writing is when an editor told him how easy he was to read. When you read a novel by an accomplished author (I’ve mentioned Susan Meissner; add Allison Pittman, Candace Calvert, Dan Walsh—and many more, not in any particular order), you can’t really put your finger on what it is that’s so good. I think that’s why it is so good: the prose is effortless, it disappears beneath the story and the dream isn’t broken from the front cover to the last page. I want to be able to do that. Perhaps someday I shall.
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), 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. 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.
Please give us the first page of the book.
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
* * *
“…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
“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
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!”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
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.
I've enjoyed having you on the blog as well.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
The Lost Loves of World War II - Christianbook.com
The Lost Loves of World War II Collection: Three Novels of Mysteries Unsolved Since World War II - Amazon
The Lost Loves of World War II Collection: Three Novels of Mysteries Unsolved Since World War II - Kindle
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