Altered I Book Club Hosts Meet-The-Author Afternoon Event

Early in February I was honored to be invited to the first Altered I book club. Although the group was intimate the questions were probing. And despite the use of the word probing, I was thrilled to answer them all!

Although this was predominately a ladies function, through a strange twist of circumstances Joseph Kempler was able to attend. That sent a special happy vibe through the guests who weren’t initially expecting to see him. Even though he didn’t have too much to say, he enjoyed being the center of attention. He sipped his wine and his eyes sparkled when he gazed at me talking to the group about the writing experience and working with him. In fact, a couple of times he said, “I never knew all this!” Even he was surprised at the level of work and determination (otherwise known as stubbornness) it took to get his story to the level of published book.

Joseph Kempler

Shelly Kilburn was Madame Interviewer Extraordinaire. She was adorable perched on the sofa asking me questions off her iPhone.

Here is a peek at some of her questions and my answers:

1.  When did you first dream of writing a book?

A: I would have to say it all started when I was in elementary school. I can’t remember my age or grade but the assignment was to plant a bean and write about the outcome. It was all done on construction paper–complete with illustrations by moi–and bound together with yarn. Ah, the 70s! I first started thinking about writing when I was in junior high to be honest. I was around fourteen years old, and I thought I would like to be a writer–or a lawyer. But, I believe a friend talked me out of writing as a serious career when she bluntly told me,”Everybody wants to be a writer.” So that was that, but I never gave up the creative writing classes or my journal, or my dream.

2.  When/how did you decide to write this book?

A: This is a little bit of a long story and I’ve written an article and a blog post already, so if you are truly interested click here!

3.  What detail touched you the most?

A: Surprisingly it wasn’t anything related to the Joseph’s Holocaust experience directly, but with his first wife. Her story touched me deeply. While I was writing it, I was moved to tears. (Of course I’m not giving anything way right now, you, Dear Reader must read the book!) While I say this I must tread carefully, as Jospeh’s second wife is sitting right over there on the sofa. She is smiling, a good sign.

4.  Did Joe sign on immediately?  How did he feel?

A: Joe really was supportive right from the beginning. Although at times I know he viewed me as a pest. I really did show no mercy. I rang his doorbell, I knocked on his door, I wouldn’t take “No, not today” as an answer.

5.  What did you hope to accomplish?

A: First, I hoped to accomplish a manuscript that could be read by the family. They hadn’t heard Joseph’s story in its entirety, or this context. I hoped they would learn things about their father and themselves. I hoped it would have a healing effect on all the family, because truly, the Holocaust put a stamp on all our lives and no one has remained unscathed by the dysfunction it has engendered.

Secondly, I really wanted to be a published author! After we had compiled all the information I knew in my heart I had to take it to the extreme level of finding a publisher and setting the story loose on the world!

6.  What was the hardest thing about writing it? The most rewarding thing!

A: The hardest thing about writing it had to be carving out the time. I had to conduct the interview, transcribe the audio, write the manuscript, then edit, edit, edit and when I thought I couldn’t stand to look at the thing edit some more. Then really, the hard part was looking over the contract for publishing, getting advice, knowing what was the right decision. This was all new territory, and also stuff I wasn’t mentally prepared for. I had to read a lot of books on the subject of contracts and in effect I became my own lawyer (dream number two fulfilled). Of course I hired a professional attorney all the same. There was just so much to think about. It was a lot of time invested.
The most rewarding thing was seeing it through. Finishing the project even when I wanted to give up. But each time I wanted to quit I would remember I had come too far to quit. I really pushed it to the end. What is more rewarding than a job well-done? And I’m not talking about reviews or anything like that, but giving this everything I had and knowing I did my best no matter what anybody thought of the work itself. It so happens that people love it, the book. And I’ve gotten several “Well-Done!” comments. Which of course thrills me. Maybe I have a future int his after all.
Book Cover for The Altered I

Book Cover for The Altered I

I wasn’t the only one to express myself that afternoon. What was more interesting to me was listening to the book club members tell me their feelings and tell Joseph what they thought of him, of how his story impacted their life. And also, what inspiration the story supplied to them. Some of them feel more brave after reading the book. They felt they could stand up for what was right despite peer pressure or ridicule. Some said they don’t fear persecution anymore. Some got together with members of their own family to ask them about their family history. The Altered I meant a lot of different things for a lot of different people.

Have you read a book or listened to a life story that made you re-think your own life or your own standards? What was it, or who was it? I would love to hear about it. Please leave your reply in the comments section!

Thanks for indulging me in my Meet-the-Author event. It was a great afternoon with some really wonderful friends.

Interested in reading an excerpt? Click on excerpt.

Want to purchase? Click on LeRue Press. It will take you right to Amazon.

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6 responses to “Altered I Book Club Hosts Meet-The-Author Afternoon Event

  1. Congratulations, April. Well done on the publishing of your book about Joe’s life and the holocaust. It’s important work to leave as a document of history for future generations to read and remember.

  2. It was a wonderful afternoon, April! You give me far too much credit, but I’m so glad the ‘afternoon with the author’ idea came to me and so glad we were able to make it happen. How many times have we read a book and wished we could talk to the author or talk to the person whose story was told? ‘Probing’ you and Joseph really added to the reading experience. It meant so much to be able to tell you and Joseph how we were impacted by the book and (as I’m sure most readers would agree) to look into Joseph’s altered eyes and shake his hand or give him a hug. Thank you!

  3. It was a wonderful afternoon, April! You give me far too much credit, but I’m so glad the ‘afternoon with the author’ idea came to me and happy we could make it happen. How many times have we read a book, been touched by a book, and wished we could speak to the author (let alone the person whose story was told)? ‘Probing’ you & Joe added so much to the reading experience. Special too, was the opportunity to look into Joe’s altered eyes and let him know how his story has impacted us — to shake his hand – even give him a hug — I know most readers would cherish that opportunity. Thank you!

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