Sunday, January 23, 2011

A warm welcome to author Marianne Stephens

Welcome, Marianne. I'm happy to host one of the stop of your blog tour for your nonfiction book, "Guilty Survivor - Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall".

Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

BLURB:

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

Could you please tell us about this memoir?
Hi, and thank you for interviewing me!
Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

What got you interested in this story?
I’ve ghostwritten one other nonfiction book and enjoyed the challenge of “getting into someone else’s head” and writing their story in first person. A mutual friend introduced us and when I heard some of her story details, I felt as if it would make a good book.

Do you have any personal connections to the people involved?
Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know Tamerla. We’d meet for interview sessions where I’d take notes (and tape-record our talks) as Tamerla told her story. Her English has vastly improved, and as someone who didn’t see her everyday, I always noticed an improvement.

How did you gather the information?
Tamerla and I would meet and I’d gather her information as she spoke of her life before, during, and after the war. I also interviewed her second husband, an American, to gain some perspective from his point of view on some issues.

I contacted a professor in Austria, Dr. Florian Bieber, who’d written reports for the United Nations about the Bosnian War. I explained what I was writing and asked if I could use some of his statements in the books for historical reference. Instead of using information from UN reports, he graciously allowed me to use pages from the book he wrote about the Bosnian War.

What did you learn from working on this project?
Everyone has a story to tell! It may not be as dangerous and eventful as living through a war, but we all have so much in our background. Celebrities and politicians write their biographies, but everyday people have many fascinating life stories to tell, too.

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her façade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

What feelings do you have about this?
I feel as if I know someone who lived through danger for days, weeks, years, and yet, never gave up hope. Tamerla set her goal…to save the family business and that was her motivation.
We can all be inspired to achieve our goals, just as she did. Quitting wasn’t an option, and finding inner strength is a key to success.

Is there anything you would like your readers to know?
Of interest to readers, Tamerla made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship.

For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

Is there anything else you¹d like to add?
I’ve also written 4 mainstream romance books (under the pen name Marianne Stephens) and 2 erotic romance books (under the pen name April Ash).

http://www.mariannestephens.net
http://www.aprilash.net

Where to find my books:

Marianne Stephens - Ellora’s Cave Mainstream “Blush” (was Cerridwen) imprint:
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-310-marianne-stephens.aspx

April Ash - Ellora’s Cave Erotic books:
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-441-april-ash.aspx

Marianne Stephens - Breathless Press:
http://www.breathlesspress.com

Marianne Stephens – Secret Cravings Publishing Nonfiction Imprint – Living and Learning:
http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

Marianne Stephens – Amazon Books: ebooks and print:
 http://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Stephens/e/B003NT0QSQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_6?qid=1293604293&sr=8-6

April Ash – Amazon Books: ebooks and print:
http://www.amazon.com/April-Ash/e/B003OJRSSG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1293604456&sr=1-1

Marianne Stephens and April Ash – All Romance Ebooks – Search for names:
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html

Nonfiction Book:
Publisher: Secret Cravings (Imprint: Living and Learning)
Buy Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html
http://www.mariannestephens.net

Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall
Link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MarianneStephens.html

Unofficial Excerpt:

Restaurant Meli was attacked more than once by grenades. I was downstairs in the bakery area the first time when a grenade was thrown. It destroyed my beautiful winter garden. There was broken glass and debris everywhere and the storefront was damaged.

My first reaction was one of fear and panic. I froze where I stood, wondering if the basement had also been hit and damaged. My heart skipped a beat, and then began beating wildly. What if I’d been upstairs? What if customers and my employees had been there? Then, my fear turned to anger. Why was this happening? Who were the cowards who tried to steal my sanity and wanted to drive me away?

That same day, my employees and I put up a heavy protective wall covering in the front of the restaurant. This remained in place during the war and for some time after the war ended.

In that one instant, everything changed before my eyes. I had felt a kind of safety I’d convinced myself existed inside my restaurant. I now knew that was no longer true.

Another time, a grenade destroyed my roof. After my initial sense of heart-pounding fear, anger again took its place. I let frustration rule my senses. I got up on the roof and had some employees help me repair the damage.

It was a long, difficult job, and a saner person might have considered how vulnerable we were standing out in the open. I’d gone beyond sane level thinking and just wanted to fix the damn roof. My employees didn’t balk at this, but joined me in doing the job quickly.

We had to put rolls of material and hot asphalt on the roof. Roof attacks happened five or six times. We fell into a routine of accomplishing repair work between sniper attacks.

Death and destruction were everywhere. There was no avoiding this. Ignoring it as if it didn’t happen on a regular basis would be like ignoring an elephant sitting in the restaurant.

Wow, Marianne, this sounds fascinating and touching. Thanks so much for sharing, and I wish you well with the book!

4 comments :

Sandy said...

Laura,

What a wonderful blog you have. I'm glad I found you again.

Marianne, this story is gut-wrenching. Truly, a must read.

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks for commenting, Sandy.
And Laura...thanks for hosting me here today!

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Sandy, thank you!
And Marianne, I am very happy to have you here. Sounds like great work. :)

desitheblonde said...

this one is getting a lot of attention