Please help me welcome Janina Stankiewicz Chung to this week’s Author Interview. I first met Janina when she spoke at our local writers group, the Marco Island Writers about her book, Far East of the Sun in April. Her novel is heart wrenching and informative about her family that were displaced during World War II.
Janina Stankiewicz Chung was born in Belarus in 1938, and came to the United States with her family through the Displaced Persons Resettlement Program in 1951. Far East Of The Sun, her first novel, explores another side of World War II, that of the displaced person. Janina and her family endured thirteen years of life under Communist oppression in Russia, forced relocation to Hitler s Germany and its hellish concentration camps, and the confusion of postwar displaced persons camps. As a mother of four, with four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Janina thanks God everyday for my mother and father. They had the vision and endurance to bring us to freedom and opportunity that my family and my sibling’s families now enjoy.
Joanne: When did you know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started.
Janina: I have always had the aspirations to write. With my mother’s passing at age 93, the story of my family’s life needed to be told. Fortunately for me, I was an avid reader throughout my life so that fact alone helped me to get started.
Joanne: -Do you have a background in writing or take any special courses that helped you along the way?
Janina: I don’t have any writing experience or training. I hired an editor to work with me. As I was writing, the editor edited my manuscripts and mentored me.
Joanne: How long did it take to publish your first manuscript?
Janina: It took almost two years.
Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
Janina: My book is published through a traditional publisher. Getting a book published is not an easy task. First you have to find an agent to represent you. Then an agent does the leg work, getting the manuscript to the publishers. I sent out my manuscript to numerous agents, all turned me down due to work load so big, that they couldn’t take on additional projects. “That was their excuse.” Publishing companies won’t talk to you without an agent. So….my editor opened her own small publishing company and a year and a half later, my book was the first she published.
Joanne: It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
Janina: If you are not with a “big time publisher,” to start the money rolling in, it takes a lot of leg work. You can’t expect to see any money for a long while. Most of my marketing has been through speaking engagements and book signings. It is one way to reach the reader, “on one-on-one” basis. Other promotional techniques are through the internet blogging, sales through a variety of different websites such as Kindle, Ebook and Amazon.
Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their new manuscript?
Janina: Discipline and concentration. Be consumed with your story. Don’t take too much time away from your desk. Your story should be fresh on your mind at all times.
Joanne: Are you currently working on a new manuscript? If so, can you give a sneak peek into the premise of your story?
Janina: Yes, I am working on a new manuscript. It is based on my life.
Thank you Janina for being a part of Writing Under Fire. Readers, you may purchase her novel, Far East of the Sun by going to www.reededwards.com.
Now readers, please enjoy a sneak peek into the first page of Far East of the Sun
Sasha’s cheeks were red: lips chapped, pressed tightly together were turning blue from the bitter cold wind. Wisps of wet, blonde hair escaped from the rough handmade cap, formed small icicles on his forehead that melted against his skin like teardrops. Intense cornflower blue eyes full of despair squinted through snow-covered eyelashes, searching for the winding road buried under a foot of falling snow.
Pine trees, tall and majestic with branches covered in snow and ice, hung low with long icicles that reached out like fingers against the passing sled, like sentries protecting the occupants from the howling wind and blowing drifts.
Sasha was perched on the small front seat of the sled. His muscular arms strained, as he pulled on the reins, guiding the tired mare in the right direction on the once visible dirt road. Wild-eyed with fear, the mare whinnied, blowing puffs of steam from her nose, she desperately, shook her head to rid the snow off her long mane which blinded her vision. Her hooves slid on ice, causing her to stumble, threatening to overturn the precious cargo inside.
“Whoa! Szarna…Pomaludku. Whoa! Szarna… Easy now,” in a raspy voice barely audible to her ears, Sasha tried to soothe the skittish mare.
Huddled in the back of the sled was his wife Anya. Gripping the sides with frozen numb fingers, she tried to shield herself with wet threadbare blankets from the falling snow.
Agonizing moans muffled by the wind reached Sasha. Anya moaned again. This time, long, deep, guttural. Each bump of the sled was like a knife stabbing her back, causing a new contraction, each one more intense. Her deep blue eyes, brimming with tears, were full of terror. Gasping with dry lips, she prayed: Hospudzi Pomarzy Nam….Hospudzi Pa Miluj Nas…God help us….God love us, let this child be born safely. Anya took a deep breath and closed her eyes before the next contraction ripped through her.
I must find shelter soon….or we will perish….Hospudzi…Pomarzy nam….God…. Oh, God….Help us!…I have to find a way out of this whiteness. Sasha’s thoughts echoed his wife’s plea. He was lost and desperate.