Joanie Schirm on Her Emotional Journey, Writing About Her Family’s Experiences During WWII

Joanie Schirm had always intended to write a nonfiction story about her family due to her unique background. Her father was a Czech Jewish refugee in China during World War II where he met her mother, and they had a sixty-year love affair full of intriguing stories. It wasn't until her parents passed away that she realized the heartbreaking, emotional truth behind their stories. Schirm discovered 400 letters from 78 different writers that her father had hidden away. She had the letters translated into English and after reading them, knew the book she had to write. These letters were just the beginning of her research process for her award-winning debut book, Adventurers Against Their Will. Schirm traveled to Europe several times for research and even consulted with experts to ensure accuracy in her storytelling. While the process was incredibly emotional, it was also very rewarding, Schirm says.

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  • I think it is amazing you have drawn inspiration from the letters. I think that element in itself is something later generations will not have because we do not write letters any more. I have a beautiful story to tell from my family history nothing is written down, but engraved in my mind are the stories my mom would tell and re-tell for our entertainment as children and I think for her therapeutic outlet. I look forward to reading your book.

  • Your response to the material has encouraged me to explore my experiences even further.

  • Very very intriguing. 

  • Thanks for sharing your journey with the world. It is most inspirational and I would love to read your books. Will definitely make some brilliant reading.  I'm endeavouring to write the memoirs of my husband growing up as a love child from the sixties. Hopefully I can capture the essence of what it is growing up knowing the prejudice of society but also the love and joy he has brought his mother who has raised him. Like you said this is a very emotional journey but hopefully also a journey of healing. 

  • Joanie your presentation was an inspiration for all of us. Many of us do not have a clue as to things like that. I certainly was not as knowledgeable as I should be. I am writing a children's book that is about my experiences as a little girl visiting her grandparent to make scuppernong jelly. Mine is A Legacy of Love theme