Authors Spotlight with Christine Skarbek

Episode 2 April 26, 2024 00:18:04
Authors Spotlight with Christine Skarbek
Book Interrupted
Authors Spotlight with Christine Skarbek

Apr 26 2024 | 00:18:04


Show Notes

During this mini episode we turn the Authors Spotlight onto Christine Skarbek and her book “Confronting Power and Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My Life”

What’s in a name?

Her trailblazer of a distant cousin forged a solitary, singular path during and after WWII. Unassuming and somewhat clueless, Christine eventually finds she has to do pretty much the same. A teen fully expecting her Midwestern life would be drab and ho-hum, she meets in Germany an elderly man who offered her a ride – and insight into a legacy she was going to rely on throughout her entire life.

Discussion Points:


Mentioned on this episode of Book Interrupted:

Book Interrupted Website

Book Interrupted YouTube Channel

Book Interrupted Facebook Book Club Group

Confronting Power and Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My Life by Christine Skarbek

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Do you like music? Do you like playlists? Do you like awesome music? In a playlist chosen by the book interrupted members inspired by the books yeah, I thought so. Go to to find our cycle song picks. You're welcome. [00:00:21] Speaker B: Parental guidance is recommended because this episode has mature topics and strong language. Here are some moments you can look forward to during this episode of book Interrupted. [00:00:31] Speaker C: Today we're talking to Christine Starbeck, the author of Confronting Power and Chaos started investigating her life. [00:00:40] Speaker D: This is a gal who was a countess. She was also half jewish. Her mother was jewish who took the micro film documenting the nazi buildup of Operation Barbarossa when they were going to invade Russia. Yeah, that was twelve years. And then I came back after I had had COVID over in Poland. [00:01:01] Speaker C: That story's outlined in the book as well. [00:01:03] Speaker D: Yes, that's the whole chapter. I mean, it's just like these things kept happening. This is how Christina kept helping me, which is now being considered by Hollywood producers. We have a great producer out there who is pitching it and I'm just going, this is just really awesome. Cool. This really blows my mind. [00:01:25] Speaker E: I go to read a book is the goal. I want to learn something new and I don't want to be disrupted. Mind, body and soul. Inspiration is the goal and we're gonna tong it out. [00:01:58] Speaker B: Welcome to Book Interrupted, a book club for busy people to connect and one that celebrates life's interruptions. Welcome to the author's spotlight. During these mini episodes, we have authors come on and tell us about their books and why we should read them. Let's listen. [00:02:15] Speaker C: Today we're talking to Christine Starbeck, the author of Confronting Power and Chaos. Thank you, Christine, for joining us. [00:02:24] Speaker D: This is awesome. This is perfectly lovely. Thank you. I really appreciate being here. [00:02:28] Speaker C: So your book is a memoir. Let us know all about your book. [00:02:33] Speaker D: I started writing the book in 2014, or thereabouts in Poland. I was living in Poland at the time and I was working with a fellow, still working with him yet today. And he wasn't giving me anything new to translate or edit and I was pestering him tremendously and give me something to do. I can't just sit here and twiddle my thumbs all day. So he says, what you should do is write your memoir because you have led a fascinating life. And I'm going, oh, really? I have. That's amazing. He says, yeah, yeah, yeah, please, you know, I've got things to do. Go away and write your memoir. So that's when I started writing it. So you could say they started back when I was a student in college. A junior year abroad program took me to Switzerland, and there I met a man who offered me a ride, and he started telling me about the woman who had my name before me. And this is 1970. I went, yeah. I noted it in my journal. I went back home. I graduated, got married, and started having children. And something really peculiar happened. A friend of mine and I went to the UK for a couple of weeks. We're going to have gals day away, only it was two weeks away from the kids, away from everybody. We're just going to go see southern England. And it started me thinking, and I started investigating her life. This is a gal who was a countess. She was also half jewish. Her mother was jewish, and she was polish countess. She ended up being, as far as I can tell, the only person, male or female, who distinguished him or herself on both the eastern and the western fronts during world War Two. And she did it without a gun, never used a weapon, no grenades, no bombs. I mean, you know, she was a courier, supposedly, but she was just a whole lot more than that. She is the gal who took the microfilm documenting the nazi buildup of operation Barbarossa when they were going to invade Russia. She took that microfilm down to Cairo. Churchill told Stalin, and Stalin got prepared that they were going to be invaded. Then she was parachuted into southern France, where she saved thousands of men's lives. Being herself is just remarkable. And I needed to know how she did it. I was very happy to have been able to interview the wartime associates that were still around. Had long telephone discussions with them, me being in Iowa City and them being in Europe. And we had great discussions about her. I started writing a screenplay at that point in time, and my buddy in Poland and I have written the definitive screenplay on Christina Scarabek, which is now being considered by Hollywood producers. We have a great producer out there who is pitching it, and I'm just going, this is just really awesome. Cool. This really blows my mind. So it's been a wonderful couple of years. My book got published last August. Yeah, that's where we are. This woman, she has been my guardian angel. I have to call her my guardian angel. She has just led me through some horrific times. Had four children, divorce. It was just an excruciating divorce. The kids, three of them had chronic asthma, and the fourth one had ear infections that were keeping him from speaking correctly. He wasn't able to hear well, so his speech was going off. And then my eldest daughter eventually developed OCD. As she was going into puberty, this hormonal version of OCD developed into bulimia and anorexia, and she tried to commit suicide more than a few times while she was in college. It had to get through all of that with her, get to the other side. She's happily married, living in Georgia now, and she's doing well. She's doing well. Those 20 or so years of getting my kids through college, I really had to devise things that I wouldn't think to devise. Make things up as you go along. And so it's been a wonderful thing to see my kids being able to follow their dreams. And at the end of the day, that's all you really want for your kids. Or at least that's all I really want for my kids. I think most people feel that. Yeah, I would like to think that most of us would like that. So it's been worse. [00:07:34] Speaker C: So the book, it details your investigation to your namesake in Poland and kind of your personal life events that's happened while you're interviewing her and researching her life, potentially writing a screenplay about her. [00:07:50] Speaker D: I mean, I had. I didn't go to Poland until 2010. That was because I lost my last job in the Great Recession. And I knew at that stage of my life nobody was going to hire me. I had been going by the seat of my pants. I was a foreign student exchange coordinator, which I absolutely loved. It was terrific doing that in metro Atlanta for the years that I was able to do it. But then we had 911, and all of a sudden, nobody wanted to send their kids to the United States if they were going to be rammed into buildings, you know? So that whole career dissolved in an instant. And so I ended up teaching several campuses in central Georgia, both colleges universities, and then I finally ended up in a high school. But the Great Recession killed that idea because people were taking their kids out of the private school. They couldn't afford the tuition if they don't have a job. I was one of 20 that was laid off at that point in time. And I'm thinking I'm not going to be able to go back into my career that I had wanted initially of being a journalist, being an editor. And that's when I decided to go to Poland, because I got invited to go to Poland. And the man that sort of spearheaded that, he is a noted screenwriter of his own right in Poland, he's written 910. I think he's on his 10th novel now, and he's. What's his name? His name is Dominique Rettinger, and he's well regarded there in Poland. And I have been honored to translate all of his books. Several of his screenplays we've worked on, besides the Christina script, we've worked on a couple of other screenplays as well. So, you know, he was teaching me the rope, so to speak, while I was teaching him English so that he could come to the United States eventually and maybe we can go to Hollywood with a screenplay. This would be awesome. Cool. Yeah. That was twelve years. And then I came back after I had had COVID over in Poland. I decided, even with vaccinations, dealing with polish healthcare, because I don't know polish that well, especially when a doctor is trying to communicate with me about my health. So I thought it was time to come home. And I've been here about two years now outside of DC, so that's basically the trajectory of my life. [00:10:19] Speaker C: And it all got. The book got jump started because of you investigating this woman with the same name as you. [00:10:26] Speaker E: Yeah. [00:10:26] Speaker D: Yeah. At one point in time, referring to my daughter getting OCD as a preteen, the state of Iowa decided that I was not a fit mother. And so they took her away from me and plopped her into what they call a Pemex center, which is a psychological medical facility for children. That was the last place she belonged. And everybody agreed with me. Her doctor, her social worker, her advisor, everybody but the judge agreed with me. And so they took her away from me. And I had to figure out how to get her out of their ASAP before something worse was going to transpire with her, which I didn't need. Besides which, I was supposed to go to Dublin and the UK with my kids. And my court appointed lawyer wasn't going to help me. And I went up there and I was talking to her in the community room, in the common room, and all of a sudden a situation arose that did not involve my daughter. And people were screaming at this kid and she was doing what they were telling her to do. She was going back into her room and she didn't slam the door. She just simply closed the door. And they rushed in there and they started bellyaching at her. I looked at my daughter and I said, I think I know how to get you out of here. Now. It was an election year for the governor. I went home and I wrote a letter to the governor and outlined it all. This is what's happening in this PMC center. And my daughter tells me that kids are being harassed so badly that they have to break out in the middle of the night, and they end up getting raped. And they come back in and they're in solitary confinement. It's just a mess. It's just a mess there. And as I'm closing up the ladder, I'm thinking, no, there's one more thing you have to do, Christina. This is the Christina voice talking to me now. And so I wrote down at the bottom, Cc Lyle Mueller and Lyle Muller happened to be one of the chief editors at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. And because it was an election year, the governor knew as soon as he read this letter that the Cedar Rapids Gazette had the story. Because I had Cc'd the letter to my colleague, to the fellow I knew at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. They wrote, I mean, the governor didn't write me, but his counsel, his attorney, wrote me the very day that they received the letter, and I got it the very next day, saying, have your daughter back, please. We'll never get between you and your daughter. Never, never, never. You go. Please go. Go. You want to go to England? Can we help you get to the airport? [00:13:04] Speaker C: Wow. That story's outlined in the book as well. [00:13:08] Speaker D: Yes, that's the whole chapter. I mean, it's just like these things kept happening. This is how Christina kept helping me. Every time I had to deal with something that was really radically earth shattering, I would collapse into terror. All of a sudden, there was this genius idea on how to do this without making a ruckus or, you know. And I'm thinking to myself, now that I've written it, and this is the crux of the thing we have here in the United States, an awful lot of bad news with guns. Everybody, if they get annoyed, they reach for a gun. It's really not good. I don't like that. I really don't like that. So it seems to me that this is a lesson that Christina taught me, and I can relay this onto the rest of the world, you don't have to reach for a gun. This is a woman who was in world War two. She never used a gun. She used her brain, she used her mouth. She knew how to get things done without bloodshed. This is really very good, guys. And so if there's anything that I want people to take away, it's that. And when I was expressing this to a friend of mine, he says, well, you know, that's noblesse oblige. Ah, that's exactly what this is. And this is so poetic in a way, because Christina was part of the schlachta, which is the aristocratic gentry of Poland. So it's just like it's going around the entire circle. She knew how to do this because she knew obless oblige. And I'm going, this is so cool that it took me twelve years of living in Poland to learn what I should have learned, but never had the time to think about it, to put it into context and make a big, bigger framework out of it. And this is, I think the crux of the book is really, at the end of the day, that's what I'd like people to be able to take away from it. I think my american society needs to hear that message. Great. [00:15:24] Speaker C: So an inspirational memoir. [00:15:26] Speaker D: I would like to think it is. Yes, it is. Yeah. [00:15:29] Speaker C: Great. So, listeners, you can find the link for Christine's book on the book interrupted website, which is You can also find it on Amazon. [00:15:42] Speaker D: Barnes and Noble, too. They have it. And Barnes and noble. [00:15:46] Speaker C: And you can find the link for Amazon also on our website. [00:15:50] Speaker D: Lovely. Lovely. This is wonderful. [00:15:52] Speaker C: And we look forward to hopefully seeing the screenplay. Let us know when that comes out. [00:15:57] Speaker D: Oh, my gosh. I will be shouting it from the rooftops. Everybody in the world will know we are ready. We already have a mind who's going to play Christina. We have all these little things going on in the back of our brain. So, yeah, it would be awesome if we could make this a reality. She is a marvelous character, as she really should be portrayed on screen. I was a dope. I didn't know anything about screenwriting. I was a journalist. I was going to write a magazine article about her, but I'm going to. No, her life was too cinematic. I can't push this into a magazine. And that's how the screenplay came. And this is, you know what, 30 years later. We're still getting there. We're still getting there. [00:16:45] Speaker C: It'll happen. Thanks again for coming on the show and we look forward to hearing future things from you. [00:16:52] Speaker D: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much. I really do appreciate this. Thank you. You're welcome. [00:16:58] Speaker B: Thank you for joining us on this episode of Book Interrupted. If you'd like to see the video highlights from this episode, please go to our YouTube channel, Book interrupted. You can also find our videos on [00:17:13] Speaker F: Shout out to all creatives, thought leaders, visionaries, artists. I know you're sitting on a goldmine. I know that you have a piece of writing within you or already on the page that you're just dying to share with the world. And we want to help you at book interrupted we are looking at self published authors and how we can lend a hand in sharing your voice, your thoughts, your ideas with a wider audience. Check us out at sponsors. We'd love to hear from you if you're a self published author or considering becoming one. And we're here to lend a hand. [00:17:56] Speaker A: Book interrupted never forget, every child matters.

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