Author: Judith Somborac
Genre: Historical Fiction
In 1942, in the midst of World War II, three factions struggle for power and control over Serbia: the Royalists, the Partisans, and the Nazis. For those living there, life was put on hold indefinitely while they coped daily with the terrorization of war—an especially disheartening situation for the country’s young people. Fifteen-year-old Miriana, an only child, lives in a small, two-bedroom house in Bela Palanka, Serbia, with her parents, who farm and run a saw and gristmill. Their tiny home now accommodates her mother’s sister and nephew, who have been forced to evacuate from German-occupied Belgrade. Miriana’s aunt is frequently called upon by the Germans to translate for them—a task made more stressful by the fact that the family is also hiding a Partisan soldier in the cellar of the house. Being caught means certain death. Meanwhile, Miriana’s best friend, Stefan, supports his widowed mother and aging grandparents on a nearby farm; he resents having to abandon his aspirations for an education and his passion for the violin to run the farm. Their existence is fraught with the angst of evening curfews, blackout curtains at night, unforeseen air raids, and conflict with the Nazis, but family, friends, and small pleasures propel them through a war that threatens their happiness and their lives on a daily basis.
Has someone been instrumental in inspiring you to write?
I think the first time I knew I had writing skills was in grade eleven. Even though I butted heads with my English Grammar teacher, my English Literature teacher who could see my drive supported and encouraged me. (To this day I don’t know we had separate teachers for Grammar and Literature.) Even after I moved to a different province, I corresponded with my mentor, my grade eleven English Literature teacher, the late Mrs.Criddle. I give her a lot of credit for acknowledging my interest and talent.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
This question is just too tough to answer: there are so many good writers. It will help if I narrow it down to Canadian authors and say Margaret Laurence. Her works have a universal quality to all the imagery that I respect and enjoy. Aside from Laurence’s works, I can answer the question by saying that one of my favorite genres of work is historical fiction.
What was your first sale as an author?
My first SALE, for cold hard cash, was an article I wrote for Ski Canada magazine on children’s clothing and equipment. The article was entitled, “Get ready, Get set, Go!”
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I do not have a daily writing routine. I am probably one of the most erratic writers you know. I tend to work long hours once I start and once I am engrossed in the writing but I freely admit I am not the best organizer of time. I am not afraid of work and have always been willing to roll up my sleeves and get a job done thoroughly and well (including my writing) but I do not enjoy routine. I like variety in life. For example, I have been a supply teacher for many years and I really enjoy the mixture of classrooms and children and the occasional hours. I try to balance many activities in my life and for the most part, it works for me. If I have a deadline, I dig in and get the job done.
I know artists, writers and painters in particular, who have regular hours: Monday to Friday 9 to 5. They are consistent and productive. I admire them and sometimes think about trying to be the same but as Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”
The only consistency I have is that I write during the day. I’m too tired at night to focus.
What is the hardest part of writing books?
By far the most difficult part of writing a book is selling the book. Certainly there were stumbling blocks along the way during the process of writing “Tug-of-War,” (dramatic changes in life’s circumstances heading the list), but at the time I had no idea how demanding the after part would be. It takes so much time, effort and money to get the book recognized and read. I find I am busy nurturing my social media pages, Twitter, Facebook and my blog to promote my first book. It takes away writing time that I could be using on my next book(s).
Judith Somborac is an occasional teacher and a ski instructor who works in both capacities with children and teenagers. Judith has a BA in English and French from the University of Guelph. She currently lives in Collingwood, Ontario.