I’m super excited to bring you my conversation with OakTara author, Bruce Judisch. Be sure to come back over the next several weeks as I share more information about Bruce’s books. Oh, and you’ll want to be sure and leave a comment because there will be a book giveaway. More details to come later.
Christina: I’ve been thinking about questions, and my first one is more for my own curiosity but I think readers would love to know the answer, too. Where does the last name of Judisch come from?
Bruce: Judisch is the German word for Jewish (actually jüdisch). I must have some Jewish blood in my heritage, but I don’t know where it is. My grandfather came over as a young child from the town of Spremberg, Germany, near the Czech border. Interestingly, we have retained the German pronunciation: “YOU-dish” with the “J” left silent. J I’ve made some absolutely wonderful Jewish friends in researching For Maria. Thanks for asking.
Christina: **That is really neat! I’ve been looking for ties to any Jewish ancestry for a while now. I’m still looking. ** I bet you had an interesting upbringing. Did your grandfather influence any of your stories?
Bruce: Alas, my grandfather died of lung cancer in 1945, so I never knew him.
Christina: I’m sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine growing up without knowing either one of my grandfathers.
I find it fascinating that God has aptly given you a gifted calling and a rich heritage to match your surname. When did you know you were being called to write?
Bruce: I never envisioned myself as a novelist. I’d been affirmed in my writing abilities, but it was all non-fiction. What got me started—rather, who got me started was my wife, Jeannie. I was teaching a course through the Minor Prophets at our church, and when I began my research on Jonah, I was struck by how unique he was and how little we actually knew of him. There were also several questions left hanging in the Scriptural account of Jonah’s ministry, and they intrigued me. 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; however, my wife was in the class, and afterward she elbowed me in the ribs and said, “Well…?” So, in 2002, returning from a business trip to DC, I typed the first lines of Ben Amittai, intending it to be a single novel beginning with the first reference to Jonah in the Bible (2 Kings 14:23-25). Well, being a seat-of-the-pants writer, I soon lost control of my story, and eight years later, on a business trip to DC, I typed the last lines of The Word Fulfilled, the third work in “A Prophet’s Tale.” The bug had bitten, and from there I went to write Katia (it flowed from the pen; first draft of 78K words in 30 days). For Maria was much more difficult; the first draft taking well over a year, due to the intense research and emotional exhaustion of the subject.
Christina: Wow! So, I guess your readers really have your wife to thank for getting you into writing. What genre did you start off writing?
Bruce: As noted above, my first genre was historical-Biblical fiction: “A Prophet’s Tale.” The work that was probably the most influential in attracting me to the genre was Francine Rivers’ “Mark of the Lion” series.
Christina: Although I didn’t start writing in Biblical fiction, I do have to say that Francine Rivers’ Unveiled from her Lineage of Grace series, as well as the others in that series, have been a huge inspiration.
I know you have a picture on your website that inspired Katia. What’s the story behind the photo?
Bruce: Rather than tell you about the photo that inspired Katia, let me ask you to do something. Go to www.brucejudisch.com/katia.htm and, on the left side of the page, click the link to the KENS 5 TV interview featuring the book (sorry about the advertisement leader…). It tells the story. Just thought you might enjoy the video. J
Christina: I bet everyone quit reading and ran over to your site. 😉 Well, hopefully they’ll come back because I’d like to tell them about Katia, that is if they don’t read about it on your site.
“Seek the truth, embrace the pain, cherish the freedom.”
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.
So, now it’s up to you, Dear Readers, do you have any questions for Bruce? Oh, and be sure to come back next week as the interview continues.