Karla M. Jay - Three People, Three Countries during WWII
Raised in Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania, Karla M. Jay has worked as a speech pathologist since 1982. When she is not home in Utah gardening or writing, she is traveling, trying to see as many countries as possible--in particular, those with good coffee, ancient history, and great beaches. She loves reading historical fiction and thus, it's her reason for writing the same genre! As our Author of the Day, Jay tells us about her book, When We Were Brave.
Please give us a short introduction to what When We Were Brave is about.
My novel follows the tragic lives of 3 different people in 3 different countries and their families during the reign of Hitler. Wilhelm Falk is an SS soldier who commits treason by taking on the identity of a fallen soldier so he can have passage to America in order to report the Nazi atrocities. Izaak Tauber is an eight year old boy who travels through different prisoner camps with his mother. He holds on to the hope that he and his mother will finally find his father in one of these camps. Finally, Herbert Muller is an American citizen of German descent. He and his father Otto are wrongfully imprisoned, considered possible enemy aliens. Despite their different backgrounds, ages, and intents, we can see how brave these people were during those horrifying times.
What inspired you to describe the wages of war from three distinct perspectives?
I wanted to show that this war touched people around the world in three unique stories I had never read.
How much research did this book require from you?
Oh my. I did three months to get started and then throughout, it never stopped.
Why do you think it important to understand history?
So we never forget what hatred can look like and how it affects us all.
The families you describe feel relatable and real - how did you manage to describe the intricate personal relationships in so much detail?
I added their deepest thoughts and fears in every scene.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I can make plants grow from almost nothing.
In your mind, what happens to the characters after you write their final chapters?
Do they continue to "live on" in your imagination? They are always with me! I just traveled to Budapest, and by accident walked by a Klimt store and found a print copy of the painting Izaak works on called Poppy Field. It's above my writing desk now and makes me smile everytime I see it.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
There are so many stories still untold about these terrible times. Honing in on just these three stories without adding in the other juicy research tidbits was hard.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Virtue, honesty, and love win out in the end.
Talk to us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write early in the morning, or through the night? Pen or laptop?
I work full-time. (I own a learning center and am a speech pathologist.) So, anytime I see at least three free hours, I feel I can clear my mind and get "back into character." Weekends are my best time. I use a laptop, although I scribble notes on a tablet that I want to remember to add.
What are you working on right now?
WWII, Budapest. My visit there was productive and eye-opening!