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Weyburn author pens second novel, an epic set across two wars

Anne Lazurko will be releasing her book, 'What is Written on the Tongue', on April 26

WEYBURN – Weyburn author Anne Lazurko is set to release her second novel this spring, a historical novel partly based on stories of her parents growing up in Holland during the Second World War.

The novel, entitled, “What Is Written On The Tongue”, follows the journey of a young man, Sam, through two different wars. He lived in Holland under the Nazi occupation, and then served his country in Indonesia during that nation’s struggle for independence.

The initial idea for the story came from her dad, as he spoke often about being a teenager under the Nazis when they occupied Holland.

“He was picked up by the Germans and sent first to a labour camp, then to work for a farmer in Germany. When the war was over, he walked home through the bombed out country,” said Anne. “Some of the WWII stories in the novel were based on my mom and dad’s actual story. I heard those stories my whole life – but those set in  Indonesia are not so much my dad’s story. He had a desk job in Jakarta, where he worked in administration for three years.”

She added that he had heard stories of soldiers in the field, but he was not involved in the events her character experiences  in her book.

Her novel juxtaposes Sam’s story as being under occupation, and then being an occupier with the Dutch forces in Indonesia during that country’s war for independence.

“Mom and Dad immigrated to Canada shortly after Dad came home to Holland from Indonesia. That’s why a Canadian woman  is writing about these two wars in two different countries,” said Anne.

She recalled when her dad was in his late 80s, he had mentioned something about having a nervous breakdown while he was in Indonesia. “We had never heard that before, his kids, and he said it off-handedly. I did mountains of research to see what had actually happened there, and I questioned him some more about it as well.”

She began writing her story about six years ago, and spent much of that time doing research, including taking a trip to Indonesia with her sister to see where these events took place. It t took her about 14 months to land her publisher, ECW Press.

She had been to Holland, but she admitted she had no idea what Indonesia was like until she spent five weeks there in 2016, “and it was a game-changer.”

Anne spent time looking around the country, seeing what the weather, the food and the people were like. She found out what it felt like to be in 38-degree heat with high humidity, hearing the sounds of the jungle, eating the food and hearing the language of the people.

“I don’t think I could’ve written it without having gone there,” added Anne, noting many of the details of the setting she never would have known or imagined otherwise. These were details that her dad couldn’t really have told her about, as he was 20 when he arrived and didn’t really want to be there, so his perceptions of the larger war were minimal. “He did say that the country and the women were beautiful,” Anne laughs.

Anne noted that she started writing her first book, “Dollybird”, without much knowledge about how to write a novel or any thoughts that it would even end up as a novel.

“This one was more deliberate. I’ve been farming less and writing more, and spending very dedicated time on it,” she said, adding she has been writing  for a long time, as well as taking workshops on writing and now teaching workshops. She has also edited an anthology, and she feels these activities have all helped her in her journey to write this newest novel.

Putting together all of the research and figuring out the arc of the story, with two wars and two countries, was “like a big puzzle, and I had to put all the pieces together.”

With her publisher, she was able to work with an editor on her manuscript, and had it go through a proofreader and another edit. An unedited copy of the book was provided to book reviewers and to a readers’ website, and they post reviews of the book which have been mostly very favourable.

Anne is excited about the prospect of having her book published and released in April, and a new twist for her was working with a director and actor hired by ECW Press to make this novel into an audio book.

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