AUTHOR APRIL KEMPLER
Author bio: April Kempler
Born in Southern California, April currently resides in her "adopted" city of Reno, Nevada. She lives with her husband, who doubles as her editor-in-chief. April has completed her first book, entitled The Altered I, a Holocaust Memoir, a first-person narrative about the Holocaust.
She loves reading, a habit she picked up as a child. Instead of playing with the other kids April could be found with her nose in a book. She reads a variety of genres, but is especially drawn to historical fiction.
When she is not writing or reading she assists her husband in their window treatment design business; answering the telephone, making appointments and helping to install gorgeous draperies on naked windows.
Brief synopsis of your book:
Joseph Kempler is eleven years old in 1939, when World War II begins. German soldiers have invaded his hometown of Krakow, Poland. Forced with his family to leave their home, business and belongings, Joseph embarks upon an adventure that will change his life forever. Joseph survives six concentration camps, some of them death camps, from the ages of fourteen to seventeen. Along the way he abandons family and faith. He curses God for allowing the Holocaust to happen and becomes an atheist. When he arrives at the concentration camp Melk, he encounters from a distance, an unusual brand of Christian. He is told they are alled Bibelforscher, Bible Students. He is astounded to see these Aryan's imprisoned in the same concentration camp as Jews and is shocked to learn that they can leave the camp anytime, all they have to do is renounce their faith, but they won't do it. This leaves an indelible impression on young Joseph's mind. Many years later, after emigrating to America, Joseph miraculously encounters this group again when they knock on his door. Always curious about their faith he questions them, and ultimately he converts to Christianity. The Altered I chronicles Joseph's life and the circumstances leading to his life altering decision, while shining new light on an untold story of the Holocaust.
The Altered I, a Holocaust Memoir
Current book or project you’re working on:
What was the inspiration for your novel?
I've always had a deep interest in the Holocaust, but never thought I would write a book about it until I met my future father-in-law, Joseph Kempler. I was significantly touched by his story. I heard him speak publicly about his ordeal, but never delved into the particulars with him. Then in the early 2000s he was asked to be part of a PBS sponsored documentary entitled Knocking. That was my true inspiration for wanting to write the book. After seeing Joe's experiences in the context of the documentary my curiosity about him was piqued more than ever. I also saw that people were drawn to him and wanted to know more about him too. I had hoped he would write his memoirs, but it was clear he needed someone to jump-start him and that ultimately became me. It was a great honour to be the one to write his story for him.
Please share three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Joseph Kempler was featured in a PBS sponsored documentary entitled Knocking.
2) Joseph wasn’t allowed to go to school after the war started. He reached the fifth grade when it was considered illegal for Jews to go to school.
3) Joseph Kempler worked for Capitol Records in Los Angeles, CA U.S.A. as an audio engineer.
Who is the most complex character from your current book?
I would say the most complex character from The Altered I is Joseph Kempler. He is still complex! We have no idea how the Holocaust affected him. Was he damaged before the war, or is he the way he is because of the war? Our family wonders this constantly. How could Joseph do the things he did? None of us have ever been in survival mode, thank goodness, so we can’t say how we would act under similar circumstances. Joseph’s experiences give me pause for thought.
Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
No! And that is a good thing. All the people in the book are from Joseph’s past, his family, and his friends. They each impacted his life in a different way. I’m completely separate from any of the people portrayed in the story. I try my best to stay out of it and let Joseph do the talking!
If you could pick any well-known or famous author to review your book, who would you pick? Why?
I would pick Thomas Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark. Steven Spielberg made the movie Schindler’s Listbased on Keneally’s book. Thomas Keneally’s book is nonfiction, dealing with circumstances that took place during the same time as some of the situations in The Altered I. I think it bookends rather nicely with Joseph’s story. Interestingly, Joseph Kempler’s life coincides with a lot of the action in Keneally’s story. Joseph was in the concentration camp Płaszów, in Poland at the same time as many of the people who were portrayed in Schindler’s List. I don’t want to say too much and give away the story, so the readers will have to find out for themselves.
What genre does your book fall into?
What is the first book you remember reading that affected how you thought or felt about something?
This is a hard question! I was an avid reader from the time that I was very young, there are so many that come to mind right away. But, the book that significantly changed my world would be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. It really opened my eyes to racism. I know this book has come under a lot of criticism these days for its use of racial slurs and stereotypes, but it remains one of my very favourite books.
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
2) Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
3) James Michener, Poland
Each one of these authors is exceptional in their field. I admire and aspire to accomplish what they have attained in their writing careers. Margaret Mitchell wrote one book, but what a book! Diana Gabaldon has kept the energy and interest alive through a seven book series, with possibly an eighth! Michener’s novels are epic in their scope. A similar author I admire (and would be number four on your list) is Edward Rutherfurd. He writes huge dramas involving multiple generations from several different families. He weaves them in and out of historical settings, having them interact with each other and historical figures. His books are unbelievable!
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish reading?
I’m ashamed to admit, yes. But, very rarely do I do that! I will struggle through a book, even if it takes me months to finish it (or years!) because I know how much effort it took to write that book. And I really hate not knowing how a book ends. That would make me stew all night.
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?
Yes, frequently. Sometimes I’ll be reading and the author uses a word that I was grasping for and it just describes what I was trying ineffectually to describe. So, I always read for inspiration.
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?
The Altered I is my first book. I hope it isn’t my last. But, as an unknown author a lot of my time these days is devoted to bringing public awareness to the book. I blog, I write short online articles, plus a myriad of other things. I’m always learning which takes me away from creating. Soon, I will have it together and will get cracking on the next book.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
Nothing gets me more in the mood to write than not writing! I need to do something nearly every day. If I go too long I start to get anxious. It’s kind of weird.
What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) I knew nothing about Poland.
2) I’m not Jewish.
3) I never wrote anything of this size before.
What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?
Oh my goodness, so much! I gained a lot of insight into the actual publishing process. It takes a ton of patience! I’m not self-published so I have to wait on other people like editors, illustrators, and marketing teams. Everything! A self-published author really has control over the entire process. Whereas I have a lot of people deciding how the book gets out to the public, when it is released, how many books are printed, etc. It has been eye-opening. Self-publishing to me was just so scary! Like when you leave home for the first time. Everything is on you. I wasn’t ready for all the decisions. The learning curve seemed just too steep. I really admire the courage of the self-published author! Of course these days marketing (something I hadn’t anticipated) falls squarely on the shoulders of the writer. In that respect I’m treading unfamiliar ground, but making some good headway.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to ‘overcome’?
I haven’t suffered writer’s block like some have, but sometimes I’m a little stumped about what direction I should take with the story or how to work out a problem. I usually take a walk. I get so much inspiration from moving around! I work out the problem and even come up with new ideas. Walking definitely gets the creative process up and running.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?
Ask questions, join group discussions. Be a part of the conversation. Be polite. Be willing to learn new things. Take criticism well, be humble and be patient!
How long does it usually take for you to complete a book?
The Altered I took approximately two years from recorded interviews, transcribing those interviews and putting them in a manuscript format. Then the editing process began! That took some time to get it right, then more time to locate and hire a professional editor, then additional time to submit to a publisher and wait for a response. It took nearly five years, but that is average for a first-time writer so I have no complaints.
Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Sure I do! Whether or not they are interested in the book is another story. It would be a dream come-true though.
Which book to movie conversion is your favourite?
I love how Ang Lee directed The Life of Pi. It was absolutely beautiful.
Do you watch a lot of science fiction or fantasy movies?
Not a lot but some. I liked Dune. I have yet to watch Game of Thrones, but I’m definitely interested in it. I actually love Star Trek. I’m more of a Next Generation fan than a regular Star Trek fan. I seriously love the new movies though. I cannot wait for Outlander to come out. I just read that Starz has green-lighted a 16-episode mini-series. That is thrilling.
Do you study science, the planets, history or anything special to help you with your writing?
I research a lot of history! Since my book is nonfiction on the subject of the Holocaust it was really important that my facts be impeccable. I conducted a lot of research! I asked my subject, Joseph Kempler, a lot of questions and then I re-checked his answers by comparing them to the historical facts on record. Research is fact checking and re-checking, all the time.
What, who, and when were you first inspired you to write?
As a reader it was just a natural transition to becoming a writer. I can’t remember not trying to read something, anything, be it a cereal box, a label, a street sign. Words have always been important to me. My aunt Donna gave me my first copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte when I was eleven years old, and from that moment on I was hooked on English literature. I still have the paperback, it is quite fragile, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.
Drink – water!
Food – hamburgers
Vacation – Hawaii
TV show – Real Housewives
Movie – Gone with the Wind
Animal – Dog
Sport – tennis
Book – Gone with the Wind
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book? http://leruepress.com/TheAlteredI-Author.htm