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Father’s Ukrainian roots inspire author’s novels

Maria Dziedzan with copies of her first novel and her latest, Driven Into Exile.
Maria Dziedzan with copies of her first novel and her latest, Driven Into Exile.

An author who has been inspired by her father’s stories of his homeland in the Ukraine has published her second book.

Maria Dziedzan, who lives in a village near Newark, started writing when she was young.

She studied philosophy at university followed by a teaching certificate in English and drama and then worked as an English teacher, sharing her love of literature and the power of words and stories.

She took early retirement from the Brunts School, Mansfield, which gave her the opportunity to write her first novel, When Sorrows Come.

The book tells of Anna, a teenager whose family is torn apart when Stalin’s men enter their village in the Western Ukraine in 1939.

Maria said her family home had been full of Ukrainian culture and so she had been fascinated to explore its history further for her book.

Her father was among thousands of Ukrainians exiled at the end of the second world war and came to England when he was 25.

He moved to Grimsby, where Maria was born. When she was four they moved to Nottingham, where there was a Ukrainian community.

“Our family’s social life was dominated by two things — Ukrainian activities and letters from home,” Maria said.

“It was always called home even though it wasn’t mine nor my sister’s but it was our father’s.”

Maria said she had been very disciplined with her writing, working five or six days a week. It took about 16 months to complete the first draft.

“When I finished I felt bereft,” she said.

“There was an enormous sense of loss when I finished the first book and a sense of anxiety about whether it had worked.”

New book

So she was delighted when her book was the winner of The Big Bingham Book Read.

The event featured ten writers from New Writers UK who each donated two books to the town’s library. Readers were invited to borrow them and then score them.

Maria’s book finished as favourite and she was presented with a trophy by crime writer Stephen Booth.

The book was also one of four finalists in the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

Maria has completed her second book, Driven Into Exile.

It tells the story of Natalya, who has to leave her family and home in the Ukraine to be a slave labourer for the Nazis at the age of 16.

She initially finds herself as a servant to a German officer’s family and then has to work as a labourer in a munitions factory. When Natalya dies 50 years later her secret is uncovered by her daughters.

The new book will be launched at the headquarters of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain in London a week on Wednesday.

She is working on her third book, which will follow on from the second.

Maria’s books are available through Amazon.


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