Thursday, March 26, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'You're Not From Around Here, Are You?' Helga Stipa Madland

Helga Stipa Madland was born in Upper Silesia and emigrated to the United States with her family in 1954. She has three children and six grandchildren. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Oklahoma and is the author of academic and other books. Her husband, Richard Beck, teaches Ancient Greek at OU in Norman, OK, where they live with a dachshund and four cats.

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About the Book:

Title: You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences
Author: Helga Stipa Madland
Publisher: Aventine Press
Pages: 202
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

I start with when I was born, then there was a World War, and then I went to Norman.—Klodnitz, in Upper Silesia, now a part of Poland, was my birth place; when everything collapsed in 1945 at the end of WWII, my family and I became refugees. We trekked across Germany, to the west, and eventually settled in a small village and then another one. Next was Canada, then the United States, Missouri; eventually we settled in Idaho, where my Father, who was a forester, found a job. I did not stop there! I was married and continued my merry journey, California, back to three different cities in Idaho, and later Seattle, where I earned a PhD. My children were grown by then, I was alone and ready to find a position. That’s when I ended up at the University of Oklahoma in 1981, and have been here ever since.

For More Information

  • You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thanks for joining us at our book club, Helga.  Can we begin by having you tell us why you felt you needing to write your memoir?

Helga: Family and friends suggested it for a number of years; finally I caved in. 

What do you remember about the World War II when you were a child?

Helga: That answer would take a book—wait, I wrote one. I mostly remember our flight from Upper Silesia to West Germany; also spending time in bomb shelters. And the British soldiers who were prisoners of war and worked near our house—the forestry house—and made sure my sister and I (four and six) were save in the bomb shelter, before they went back outside and cheered the UK and USA bombers.

What were your family’s opinion on Hitler if I may ask?

Helga: Of course you may! I was six years old when the war ended. My father turned out to be quite a leftist—the direct opposite of Nazis—after the war, so his opinion of Hitler cannot have been too high. One of my uncles, however, seemed to be engaged, although he thought the Nazis overstepped their limits with “Kristallnacht” when they destroyed Jewish shop windows. Little did he know what was yet to come.  

Why did your family decide to move to the U.S.?

Helga: We were refugees, Germany was over-crowded—the USA was the land of opportunity in 1953.

What kind of hardships did you endure during that time?

Helga: During our flight, my sister almost died because she was so weak—food was not easy to come by. Two of my aunts lost their babies. My two grandfathers were taken to Siberia and never heard from again.

How come people ask you if you’re not from around here as your title indicates?

Helga: Because, although I have spoken English for more than sixty years, I still have a slight accent. The same is true when I speak German now. That’s why I like Spanish.

Will you be writing more books?

Helga: Yes, I have started the sequel to “Turtle Bay,” a soft-boiled mystery set in Hawaii, titled “The Kahamalas Take A Cruise.”

Now’s your chance.  What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

Helga: Thanks for reading my books.

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