Books-and-Authors.net: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest influences and why?
Anna Block: I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland, a great place to be a kid. We lived in a row house across from West Hills Park, which had a giant hill for sledding in the winter. The hill was so steep that in the summertime the maintenance people would shy away from cutting the grass on it.
But that was okay with the neighborhood children and me because we discovered that we could also use cardboard boxes to slide down the hill. Baltimore was also a great place for learning. My family would frequently take trips to museums, art galleries, and libraries.
My father’s example is what encouraged me to love reading. He would take me to the library on a regular basis. I remember on one particular visit, I tried to impress my dad by selecting a book that must have weighed at least ten pounds. He smiled and let me take it home.
I managed to read the first three chapters but the book proved too much for a seven-year-old. When I was in middle school, my English teacher favored my writing. She encouraged me to enter a city-wide poetry contest, of which I won first place.
I will never forget the time she asked me to stand and read my short story to the class. Her comment at the end of my reading; “I love how she writes, I can just picture it in my mind,” still lingers audibly in my ears.
Books-and-Authors.net: Why do you write?
Anna Block: Writing is a natural instinct for me. Even more than a desire, it is a need. How thrilling it is for me when someone is impacted in a positive way by something I’ve written. I hope to stir people into action.
Ursula’s Prism is not only my family’s history but the history of a nation. In a time of war, many heinous acts occur that clearly show the evil that mankind can be capable of.
But just as relevant, and even more important, are the characteristics of strength, courage, and honor that wartime can develop. That’s what Ursula’s Prism is all about, courage, determination, hope, and faith.
Books-and-Authors.net: Who was Ursula Swart?
Anna Block: Ursula Swartz is my dear mother, the one and only.
Books-and-Authors.net: Discuss your book new book “Ursula’s Prism”. How much research went into writing “Ursula’s Prism”?
Anna Block: Extensive interviews with my mother over a two year period. I searched many, many websites dedicated to the concentration camps and Bergen-Belsen specifically. I read through encyclopedias and maps at my local library, and I read some books on the subject.
One such book, ….and God Cried, the Holocaust Remembered, by Charles Lawliss, was very helpful to me. Plus I listened to the CD lectures taught by Professor Thomas Childers entitled A History of Hitler’s Empire, 2nd Edition, offered by The Teaching Company.
Books-and-Authors.net: Explain “the secrets of the prism”.
Anna Block: The secrets of the prism are moral characteristics that we are taught as we are growing up. These characteristics are extremely important to a well-ordered life and ultimately society.
But I feel that sometimes the trials and disappointments of life weaken our resolve to live up to certain standards or make us lose hope in the goodness in others.
We must remember that through the toughest times or circumstances, practicing the “crystal prism principles” will bring out the best in ourselves and in others.
Books-and-Authors.net: If Hollywood called and asked you to cast “Ursula’s Prism” – Who would you cast and why??
Anna Block: I would have no idea where to begin such a daunting task, so I believe it best to leave these decisions in the hands of the experts, the casting directors. But I would hope that my mother (who is charming), and I (who am daring), would be able to play a small part.
Books-and-Authors.net: What are readers saying about “Ursula’s Prism”?
Anna Block: When someone first said to me that it was an “easy read” I felt a little insulted.
Didn’t they realize how much energy I had put into writing this book? But upon further reflection, I realized what a compliment this really was.
I took a horrifying and difficult subject and presented it so the reader could easily process it and hopefully sympathize with the victims and survivors. Thank you to all who have read and will read my book.
Books-and-Authors.net: What do you hope to achieve with “Ursula’s Prism”?
Anna Block: To touch people’s hearts in such a way that they will never forget how important it is to have compassion and respect for everyone.
And, it doesn’t matter what trial you are going through, you have the strength, courage, and determination inside of you to make it.
Books-and-Authors.net: What was the last book you read?
Anna Block: On my nightstand is a towering stack of books. Several translations of the Bible and four other books that I’m in the middle of right now, which include A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson, Mark’s Story, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, He’s Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, and Cinch!, by Cynthia Sass.
Books-and-Authors.net: What’s next?
Anna Block: I would like to do a sequel to Ursula’s Prism. The continuation of my mother’s life and how she came to America is quite interesting. I would also like to do a children’s book about the “crystal prism principles” to be used as a parenting tool.