Author Guest Post : G. W. Kroeker

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Here as promised is Author G. W. Kroeker's guest post. Kroeker, who's an American residing in Germany, has a lyrical way of describing the road to publication of The Badenweiler Waltz, a journey filled with both hope and sorrow. I'm sure the author (and needless to say, I) will appreciate any and all comments, so please take a minute to say something.

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Product Description
Haunting, beautiful and wise, The Badenweiler Waltz by G.W. Kroeker is a tender glimpse at the healing powers of love and one woman's courage as she learns to celebrate life after she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Elizabeth Kurz is a shy, easily daunted forty-something woman who has spent the bulk of her life being intimidated. A teacher by trade, she always dreamed of being a writer, and as her final farewell nears she travels to a quaint spa town in Germany's Black Forest where both Stephen Crane and Anton Chekhov spent their final days. Believing that even though her talents have not enabled her to live as a writer, she could at least die like one. Upon her arrival she feels alien and out of sorts; dejected, she considers returning to the States until she meets a series of characters who open her mind to new ways of seeing her illness, life, and death.

The Badenweiler Waltz grew out of a very long short story, over 12,000 words, "Crane Chekhov and Elizabeth Pugh," published Bellowing Ark in 1995, which Editor Robert Ward described as "one of the most beautiful and haunting stories I have ever read." The novel, however, is not simply an elongation of the short story, for many changes have been made, particularly structural and motivational, as the central character confronts the reality of her own possible death. The novel's setting and circumstances also enable the author to present to American readers a Germany unfamiliar to most and from a perspective more balanced than that normally found in contemporary American fiction.

The most significant thing about this novel’s coming to be, however, is the role that my now deceased wife played in its development.  She encouraged me from the very beginning, for there is a certain risk involved in the structure of the novel, weaving all those short stories into something a reads like a whole.  We had long discussions about it before I even began to write, and then she reads every draft, making comments as she did, which we again discussed in detail.  She actually read what we thought was the last draft (number six, if I am not mistaken) in hospital, where she died from the complications of breast cancer (which she had battled with grace and strength and dignity for eleven years) in July of 2005.  The novel was on hold until I could write again, and then I did one more re-write, thinking that I might have gained new insights in this time of death, grief and renewal.  The novel is better for that reflection and the final re-writing.

I am the author of three collections of poetry, Vernal Calibrations (1992, out of print), A Darkness Defined (1994, technically out of print, but I have a few of my own stock), both available as used books or “new” at exorbitant prices on, and a special collection, The Monika Poems (2007), a special edition published as a tribute to my wife, Monika Hasse-Kroeker), available only on my website:  I am also the author of a handful of genre novels that I no longer claim, but also of The Magi at Christmas (1997), which although out of print apparently has a lively sales life as a used book at various online booksellers.  The film option rights for Magi were purchased in 2002, but no film has yet been produced.

I continue to write, poetry and fiction, with two major projects underway.  The first is the story (non-fiction) of the meeting of my German wife in the summer of 1998, the love story that grew from that meeting, our marriage and my moving to German in 2000, and, of course, her/our struggle with her disease.  To borrow Dickens, It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.  The second is a story (short novel, probably) about a man who begins to have hallucinations of Jane Austen visiting him, in which they have long conversations.  He eventually discovers that he suffers from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and . . .   Not to worry, I will not spoil it for future readers.  And I continue to write poetry­always and forever, the gift that has provided me a way through my grief and suffering­even though I no longer send much out for publication.

To buy a copy of the book, go here.
To visit the Author's site, go here.
To visit the Publisher, go here.
*NEW* Scholastic Summer Kit Giveaway. Ends July 15.

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4 People said

  1. Although Elizabeth is facing what she believes to be a terminal illness and she has come to Badenweiler to die, this book is not about an end but rather a beginning. Along the way we see the idyllic German countryside, taste its food wine and get to know the friends she finds to help her on her journey. We share in Elizabeth's new experiences and in her joy as her despair turns to hope.

  2. If you want to be encouraged and uplifted I highly recommend reading "Waltz." It is a story of finding hope and life, in the midst of what could have been sadness and despair. It is a story of finding one's self and learning to "dance" in all of life's circumstances. Excellent reading!!!

  3. This book sounds really touching. I must look for it. ((hugs))


  4. It sure is, Rebekah. You can see that fellow readers Morgan and Elaine recommend it highly.


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