As you’ll remember I promised you last week that I’d bring you interviews with some well-known independent writers I’ve met in groups of writers who first and foremost write in Spanish. As some of them have had books translated to English in recent times, I thought it was a good opportunity for you to get to know not only the writer, but also their work.
Today, I’m very pleased to bring you Blanca Miosi. Although she’ll tell you more about herself, I can tell you that she’s one of the authors that many independent writers see as their mentor, as she has worked hard not only to share her knowledge with others but also to promote her colleagues and help them along in their careers.
Born in Lima (Perú) of a Japanese father and Peruvian mother, Blanca Miosi has been living for the last three decades in Venezuela. She is the author of Waldek, the boy who confronted the Nazis a novel based on the life of her husband, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Mauthausen camps. First published in its original Spanish as La Búsqueda (Editorial Roca) the work received international acclaim and won the 2007 Thriller Award. In 2009, Miosi published El Legado (Editorial Viceversa), a family saga based on Erik Hanussen, the notorious Berlin clairvoyant and personal counsel to Adolf Hitler. In 2011, and as an independent author with Amazon.com, Blanca Miosi published La búsqueda, El Legado, Dimitri Galunov, El Manuscrito I. El Secreto; El Manuscrito II El coleccionista and Amanda. Her novels occupy first ranking positions among Amazon’s best sold titles in Spanish. Her next launch : El rastreador.
How and when did you start writing?
I started writing in 2001, suddenly, about an idea that had been going round in my head for several days. I simply sat down and started to write. Since that day I’ve never stopped.
Describe your experience as an independent writer.
It is one of the best experiences in my life, much better than what happened to me when I published with publishing companies. From the moment I made that decision, my life as a writer took on a definite and momentous course. All my books are now published in Amazon, I control my earnings, the sales and can make the changes I choose.
What’s the moment you remember most fondly (until now) of your experience as a writer?
The amount of time my book ‘The Manuscript’ stayed in the first place in the rankings in Amazon.com and Amazon.es. I simply couldn’t believe it. It was the first time one of my books had reached so many people. Then, ‘La búsqueda’ (the Spanish original version of ‘Waldek’) was number one in all categories in Spanish for fourteen months. It will always be an unforgettable time for me.
What made you think about translating your work?
I had always wanted to enter the English market, as I believe my novels have international themes that could be of interest for the general public.
Do you have any advice for your fellow writers (and especially new writers):
My fellow writers are as knowledgeable as I am, as we started down this path together.
To new writers I would tell them not to publish before they have revised and edited the book well. One shouldn’t waste any opportunities, as they might not come around again. A badly written book will rarely have a second chance, even after being edited and reviewed.
Here is Blanca’s Amazon Page, in case you want to check more information:
I asked Blanca to share one of her books with us.
The book is called ‘Waldek. The Boy Who Defied the Nazis’ and tells the story of Blanca’s husband, Waldek Grodek, who was a concentration camp prisoner as a child and survived to tell the tale.
Waldek, The Boy who Defied the Nazis (La Búsqueda in Spanish) chronicles the dramatic and heroic story of Waldek Grodek, who experienced first-hand and at a very young age the German occupation of his native Poland. Many decades later, while visiting the UN offices that granted compensation to the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, Waldek reflects on the events that started when he was made prisoner and taken to Auschwitz and Mauthausen and, in the years following his liberation, subjected him to the whims of European and Latin American totalitarian regimes, international espionage and the Mossad. Waldek Grodek is a memorable character whose unique perspective and amazing life story deserves to be told.
After more than 154 weeks, Waldek, The Boy who Defied the Nazis (La búsqueda) still occupies the top 10 ranking on Amazon Spanish language. A thriller that is well worth reading.
This is a review that I think might give you some idea about the opinions on this book:
“I feel so happy that Blanca Miosi’s first novel translated into English is “Waldek, the boy who defied the Nazis”, published in Spanish with the title La búsqueda (The Search).
I have read several Miosi’s novels. She is a great storyteller, but this one is her MASTERPIECE.
The novel begins with the story of a Polish Catholic child, her husband in real life, which was in the Nazi concentration camps. Anyone could say: Another sad and devastating history of concentration camps! But no, in this novel the story begins just after that. How to survive? What gives meaning to life? It is the search for meaning what defines the story.
“Waldek” is a heartbreaking and intense historical thriller.”
And, just in case, I’ve also read Waldek, and here is my own review:
Waldek by well-known (to the Spanish reading public) author Blanca Miosi is the chronicle (novelised) of a life. It is indeed a novel but based on a first-hand account by Waldek Grodek of his life. The volume I discuss is the translation of the author’s bestseller La búsqueda (The Search).
All lives are extraordinary but some (be by design, by good or bad luck or by fate) are more extraordinary than the great majority. This is one of them. Waldek was born in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe not, it depends on your point of view).
Being born in Poland and being a teenager at the time of Hitler’s invasion is not very lucky. His decision to be actively engaged in the resistance (however modest form it could take at such young age) could be seen as the first of many unwise (or at least detrimental to his own well-being) decisions he would take over his life. It lands him in a concentration camp (first Auschwitz and then Mauthausen). He manages to cope with his experience by focusing on survival at all costs and trying not to think too far back or ahead. This portion of the book is fascinating but hard to read, no matter how many books on the subject and personal accounts you have read before. Indeed it’s true that each person’s suffering is different to anybody else’s, and so are the defence mechanisms they use to survive.
I will not go into detail about all the adventures Waldek goes through in his life, but let me say he travels to South America, he sees success but also poverty, he is forced to live in circumstances not of his choosing more than once, but he survives.
One of the qualities of this book as that it succeeds in not turning the protagonist into a hero or a Saint. He remains a human being, who might not fully understand or like what he feels he has to do, who is not always consistent, and who loves and hates at times against his best interests and irrationally. He remains a complex and credible human being, even if not always a likeable one. Personally we might question some of his decisions, his expressed thoughts and ideas, and wonder how many of his sometimes surprising reactions and attachments might relate to his early traumatic experiences, although he never allows himself any excuses and pushes on.
Novels like this one, that take place in recognisable historical times and situation, make us question what would we do. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we might not like the answers we get. Would we be more generous or less? Would we take more risks, or fewer? Would we be as naïve? Would be have pursued justice at all cost (even our own), or decided on forgiveness? Can we truly know?
This being a first-person narration it presents a very specific perspective on the events and we can’t but question how much the narrator tells us and how much he censures. I did feel that there were many things I didn’t know or heard about, and those will keep me thinking, and that’s something I appreciate in a book.
However accurate we might believe all the details are, the story is a page turner, and no matter what our personal feelings for the protagonist might be, we want to know what happens to him and try to solve his puzzle. Blanca Miosi writes fluidly, with enough detail to allow us to create a mental picture of the locations and people, and she is particularly skilled at making us hear Waldek as if he was sitting next to us telling us his story. I understand that the author tried at first to publish the story (of her now dead husband) as a personal account and was told by a publishing company that those did not sell very well and they would only be interested if it were a novel. Several years of hard work resulted in this book. The novel is not only Waldek’s journey through life, but also Blanca Miosi’s search for her literary voice, and it is a success in both accounts. If you dare to go on this journey with Waldek and the author, I’m sure you won’t regret it. See what you discover.
Thanks so much to Blanca for sharing her views and her work with us, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, please, like, share, comment and CLICK!
Olga Núñez Miret