Author Lisa Rojany Buccieri Interview
When you read a book that has you wanting to stay up all night to finish and with many pauses to wipe the tears from your eyes, you know you have a five star book. I found this recently in Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri. I talked so much about what I was reading that my son, who does not like to read, kept asking me questions and now wants to read it. That says a lot and instilled in me the desire to interview the authors of this amazing book.
Ms. Rojany Buccieri granted me this opportunity to learn more about one of the authors and her part in bringing to me this emotional recount of Mrs. Kor experience in Auschwitz as a twin being experimented on. As you will discover, this interview is a wonderful look into the life of an author along with a different perspective of the book from one who worked closely with Mrs. Kor.
Enjoy the interview of Ms. Rojany Buccieri.
How long have you been writing?
Professionally, as a published book writer, about 20 years. Officially, since I was four and dictated the text for a book I had illustrated to my mom. I had newspaper bylines published in college before I got into books. And as somewhat of a perfectionist, I had been writing “novels” for school papers (the other kids made fun of me!) and in school yearbooks—I think I was just possessed by the need for self-expression as well as learning about a topic and sharing it with the world. I have always wanted to leave a piece of myself—worthy or not—to posterity, something to survive, a testament to my existence here on earth, something to show that I have helped people and made a difference in their lives. Editing and writing allow me to do that.
None of this is new to you. What material do you usually keep an eye open for?
Yes, I am a publishing vet who has been focused on fiction for all ages for a long time. I am open to editing all kinds of fiction as well as nonfiction projects as long as the nonfiction is general and does not require specific knowledge that I do not possess, e.g. a book on medical procedures that would require rewriting.
What attracted you this particular book and to Eva Kor?
The publisher came to me in a panic: the first writer hired for the job had yielded only interview transcripts. The second writer had yielded the barest of outlines. The budget was small, and she needed someone to come in and write this piece of narrative nonfiction in a hurry: about three-four weeks.
Have you co-written a book before?
Yes, with Julie Stav: FUND YOUR FUTURE, and with Peter Economy, WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES. With the former, Julie was the financial brain, and I was basically translating the material into layperson’s English. With Peter, I was the lead writer, and he took all the chapters I did not want to write like contracts and marketing—subjects with which he is just as familiar and can address as well as any writer out there!
I know that I had tears in my eyes as I read the book. Did you feel the emotional pull as you worked on it?
Of course. I had to put myself inside the head of a 10-year-old girl trapped in unimaginable circumstances, powerless, but determined to survive. It was a heady, wonderful experience—mostly because Eva Kor herself is an amazing human being.
Which part of the book affected you the most?
The part where Eva looks up across the river and sees a young girl in nice clothing, hair plaited prettily, schoolbag in hand, heading to school as if the world outside the camps was proceeding along as if nothing else was happening. The surprise, the hurt, the inability to comprehend—all these emotions she must have felt! It made me ache to think of it—ache for Eva as a little girl.
Do you work on more than one project at a time?
No. I prefer to focus on one project at a time so I can totally immerse myself in the world in which the writer or I have created. With fiction, it’s best this way—especially if you are not familiar with the material and need to keep characters and players straight in your mind in order to do a great job for the client.
With editing or writing nonfiction, I can juggle more than one project at once.
In my position as a publisher or editorial manager, I have juggled dozens and dozens of titles at once at various stages of production. It’s fun!
What inspires you as you write or edit?
Paid jobs inspire me to edit! LOL
Acute emotions and startlingly interesting experiences or ideas often push me to the keyboard. I consider myself an idea person, having always loved inventing new products with a hook that stand out from whatever else is out there. It’s a similar process with writing: I get an idea or see something that could be better or had not been covered in a certain way and I go from there.
If you had the chance to give a couple of bits of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Educate yourself: Take writing classes, join a writers’ critique group, get feedback, and learn about the craft and the business BEFORE putting your work out there. You get one chance with each venue and you do not want to blow that chance!
Join a professional writing organization and take advantage of the services they offer members. For instance, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) has tons of membership benefits that include access to editors and agents as well as two annual conferences (one on each coast) + local chapters at which you can make connections and network.
If someone takes the time (or you pay them) to give you feedback, pay attention. Really implement it. Then go back and make sure you have addressed all the issues that have been brought up.
Keep at it. Rejection happens for a reason and it’s a subjective business—as such, you’ll rarely get to find out why you have been rejected. So keep at it. There are tons of venues out there in which to place your work and it can take years to explore all of them once your manuscript is ready for the world.
What do you find the hardest about writing?
Finding the time to do it! Having to isolate myself from my family, especially my noisy and attention-seeking children, in order to get anything productive accomplished.
If you couldn’t write, what would you do?
Edit. That’s what I do: Write and edit. If I couldn’t write or edit for a living, I suppose I would either go to medical school to study the neurochemistry of the brain or start a preschool so I could be surrounded by babies. But I have to say, I love my work; it’s not just work to me: It’s a gift. And Steve Jobs put it best: ““Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Who would you call your hero and why?
That’s a great question! There is not one person out there who is perfect. And I appreciate the complexity of human beings—those who can handle their own complexity without hiding behind their emotional limitations. As such, I have heroes and heroines in different areas. My mom and Eva for being survivors of hardships, both emotional and physical. My friends, for being loyal to the bone and knowing how to get someone’s back. My sister, for being brilliant and funny. A guy friend I have for being an evolved male. Essentially, for every human characteristic that I value, I have someone whom I consider a standout example of how to embody and live that characteristic.
Thank you, Ms. Rojany Buccieri
This book can be found on Amazon.com and is great for middle school ages and up. Great for homeschooling and traditional classrooms. Due to the sensitivity of the topic, anyone who is using this book with younger children should read it first to be prepared to explain anything a child might. It is not near as graphic as many of the Holocaust survivor books, but as I was moved to tears a sensitive child could be more so.