Thrilled to welcome Leora Krygier to The Spotlight to chat about her memoir, Do Not Disclose
Author Name: Leora Krygier
Book Title: Do Not Disclose, A memoir of family secrets lost and found
Book Genre: Memoir, Non Fiction
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Publisher: She Writes Press
What sparked the idea for the memoir? And How long did it take for you to write it?
This memoir has been brewing in my head for years, I just wasn’t sure how to write it and maybe I also wasn’t ready to write it. My other books (except one, a non-fiction book about Juvenile Court) have all been fiction. I’ve always loved to make up stories and characters. A memoir, however, being so much more personal, was daunting. I was writing about people in my past and present, living and no longer living. I had an obligation to tell my truth, but also be sensitive and careful of their truths as well.
The seed of this book was planted in 2003, when I found a random W.W.II postcard from a British soldier to an American donor of cigarettes in a Los Angeles thrift store. I’d never seen a postcard like this before and started to wonder about the British soldier who wrote it in 1942. I then spent a year researching whatever I could about the postcard, the organization that sent cigarettes to soldiers in W.W.II, the man who wrote it and the man who received it. It took me a year to find the British soldier and in the end I took my teenage daughter with me to Norwich, England and returned the postcard to the family of the soldier.
I filled up four entire journal books with every step I took in that year. I pasted in clippings, wrote about my search, the people all over the world I contacted, and in between, what was happening in my family on a daily and weekly basis. I’d also never kept such a journal before.
As a fiction writer, I first attempted to write a novel fictionalizing my own quest. There were many drafts. None of them worked. Mostly because I hadn’t figured out in my own head why I had even embarked on this crazy one-year journey.
A few years went by for me to realize some of the reasons I did what I did. It occurred to me that sometimes, a stranger’s story is easier to write and research about than your own. It took me a few years but I started to understand that there were many things I hadn’t confronted about my own family’s past, and that the two stories – my family’s story and the story of the search for the soldier were really intertwined.
What was the research like?
I began my research in 2003, at the time of a nascent Internet. Although I used the Internet extensively, I also had to contact people all over the world – archivists, genealogists, graphologists, philatelists, random people who were connected with the soldier’s unit and others who might have helpful insights. I had family members look up things in New York, made endless telephone calls, battled the British Army for information, sent out snail mail letters and grappled with U.S. and U.K. censuses.
All along, I was lucky to find people who were more than willing to help and give me advice.
What’s available on the Internet has grown exponentially since 2003. Facebook and DNA testing has also connected people all over the world.I jokingly say that if I had started my research in 2020 and not 2003, it would have taken my much less time to find the soldier.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
My primary interest outside of writing and reading is photography. I don’t think a day goes by without me taking a photograph. I used to have a “true” SLR camera, but nowadays my iPhone is my go-to camera and best friend. The camera phone has democratized photo and video taking and I love experimenting with new apps that add element and filters, blur, highlight and create special effects. I can’t believe the fact that I have over 19,000 photos on my phone. Holy Cloud!
I find that taking photographs grounds me and also makes me a better writer. You have to stop what you’re doing to take a photograph. You have to decide how to frame it. Sometimes you have to wait for that right moment. It uses your visual sense but also your observational senses. I believe photography is a writer’s best secret weapon.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I started a novel at the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. I’m about halfway through, but need to do a lot more research before I can continue. It takes place in a Bauhaus apartment building in Tel-Aviv, part of the “White City, one of the World Heritage sites,” and tells two parallel stories of two women connected with this building, one in the 1940’s, the other in 2017. There’s also the ghost of a poet intermixed and that’s all I can say at this point. J
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!
My website is www.leorakrygier.net
I’m on Instagram: @leorakrygierauthor
On Facebook: @leorakrygierauthor
Thank you, Leora! Do Not Disclose is out NOW.
Leora, a juvenile court judge, wife, mother, and daughter, is caught in the routine of work, taking care of her family and aging parents. But she’s also a second-generation Holocaust survivor. It’s an identity she didn’t understand was hers until she accidentally discovered a secret file of handwritten notes addressed to her father. A further discovery of a seemingly random WWII postcard in a thrift store sets her on a collision course with the past in this lyrical memoir about secrets hidden within secrets, both present-day and buried deep within wartime Europe.