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A Conversation With Dr. Allen Malnak Author of Hitler's Silver Box
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on January 18, 2012
 



Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Dr. Allen Malnak Author of Hitler's Silver Box


                         



Follow Here To Purchase Hitler's Silver Box

Author: Allen Malnak

Publisher: Two Harbors Press

ISBN: 978-1-937293-36-9


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is please to welcome as our guest Dr. Allen Malnak author of Hitler's Silver Box-A Novel.

A board-certified internist, Dr. Malnak served as chief of medicine at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and was medical director of a number of organizations, including the Emergency Department of Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital. During his long medical career in the Chicago area, he was a also a clinical investigator in liver disease as well as an assistant clinical professor at the Stritch School of Medicine, and a practicing internist. Following retirement, he and his wife Patricia moved to Bonita Springs, Florida.

Good day Allen and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? As a follow up, what was your creative process like when you wrote Hitler's Silver Box? What happened before you sat down to write?

Allen:

After I retired from my many years of practicing and teaching internal medicine, my wife and I moved to Florida, and I decided to take a continuing education course in writing fiction. It was taught be a well known novelist, biographer and former short story editor of the “New Yorker.” He would often give us a list of five topics and ask us to write a short story from the list. One title was A Silver Box. Since my father’s entire Lithuanian family had been murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, and I had done extensive reading on the subject, I wrote a story about a concentration camp prisoner at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp who was forced by a Nazi colonel to make a silver box which would be a present for Adolph Hitler. After reading the story in class, Hollis suggested that this story could be expanded into a novel, and that started the process that eventually lead to Hitler’s Silver Box-A Novel.

I was accustomed to writing non-fiction during my medical career, so I used basically the same system. I’d start by editing the previous work and then after briefly planning the next scene in my mind, write the scene without paying much attention to my interior editor. While I didn’t use an outline, I did keep extensive notes on each character as well as a brief summary of each scene. I also “interviewed” each main character, which gave me more insight into them. Since I never learned to touch type, I relied on both the old “hunt and peck” system along with the latest speech recognition software.

Norm:

How has your medical training, as well as your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Allen:

While I was accustomed to writing about medical subjects, fiction was much more difficult for me. I had to learn a completely new craft. Dialogue as well as descriptions required special attention. Since the protagonist was an ER physician, and I had considerable experience early in my career in various ERs, I was able to utilize that in a number of scenes throughout the novel. My interest in the Holocaust and just thinking about the horrors my family must have gone through also drove some of the story. Naturally, since the main characters are Jewish, their customs and religious beliefs were woven into the story when needed.

Norm:

Did you learn anything from writing Hitler's Silver Box, and what was it?

Allen:

Great question, Norm. I learned a great deal. The most important part involved the fine points of the craft of writing fiction that I previously alluded to. While I didn’t directly use the considerable knowledge I already had about the psychology of Nazi physicians, I was able to transfer some of it to other non-medical characters. I learned about the secret weapons Nazi scientists were working on near the end of the Second World War, as these played an important part in the plot. I had to fine-tune my knowledge about life in Nazi concentration camps, specifically Theresienstadt, and of course learned much about the craft of silversmithing of which I had been totally ignorant.

Norm:

Where did you get your information or ideas for your novel?

Allen:

From knowledge I had previously accumulated over the years and by reading books and internet articles. Most medical scenes were based on my personal experiences as was the claustrophobia that the protagonist had in tunnels.

Norm:

How did you develop the plot and characters? Did you use any set formula? As a follow up, what was your principal focus when you created your protagonist Dr. Bruce Starkman? Is there much of you in his character?

Allen:

My early plot plan involved having the story about the concentration camp prisoner Max Bloomberg being forced to make a silver box for Hitler and all the difficult situations he found himself in as the entire novel. Then I decided to have the protagonist be his young ER physician nephew Bruce and turn the concentration camp part into a hidden journal with the physician having to solve several mysteries and engage in a protracted battle with a group of vicious Nazis. It was a race for the contents in the hidden silver box with the future of the world at stake. In the final story, the concentration camp experience plays a minor but important role. Perhaps the most fascinating character in the book is the attractive, abrasive Israeli woman Miriam who has a rather complex relationship with Bruce, but who is vital to him in many ways.

While Bruce, the ER doc, is taller, stronger and better looking than me, we have much in common, and one of the most vivid ER experiences he goes through actually reflected the worst night of my entire professional career.

Norm:

What do you think makes a good thriller?

Allen:

There has to be lots of action, adventure and suspense—throw in a little romance— involving characters the readers care about. Some people say characters are not as important as the action and violence in a thriller, but if the main characters both the good guys and the villains don’t hold the readers’ attention, the thriller just won’t make it. I believe the reader must be able to get into the characters’ minds, see what they are seeing, smell the burning car, fear the vicious guard. The book that accomplishes that isn’t easy to put down and perhaps even interrupts the reader’s sleep.

Norm:

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

Allen:

I enjoyed making the major characters come alive on the page. While realizing this is fiction, I wanted every scene to be accurately portrayed, and being rather compulsive, accomplishing that was enjoyable. I was particularly happy that a armament expert who wrote a review of the book for a gun magazine complimented the accuracy of the weapons used. Both Bruce in the novel as well as I, having seen the destructive power of guns in emergency rooms, don’t particularly like them, yet both of us learned to use them when it became necessary.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your book Hitler's Silver Box?

Allen:

The book’s WEBSITE. Book sellers include amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Kobo.

Norm:

What is next for Allen Malnak and is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Allen:

I had put the novel aside for long periods due to some personal medical problems. The situation that pushed me to finish it came from reading online comments in a local newspaper’s internet website. Two anonymous neo-Nazis constantly spewed their racist, anti-Semitic rants, bragging about their continued worship of Adolph Hitler and the murderous Waffen SS soldiers. Yes, despite what the world knows about the horrors of Nazi Germany, there are in innumerable communities of our great country, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan members, all hoping to finish what Hitler couldn’t. Perhaps Hitler’s Silver Box will throw a little more light on how devoted to evil these types are.

Many have suggested a sequel. We’ll just have to wait and see. I decided on Charlize Theron to play the role of Sari, when the Speilberg types come sniffin’ round. We’ll just have to wait for that also. I’m certain I’ll have plenty of offers from friends to interview her to determine if she’s “hot” enough to play the part!

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Allen:

Thank you Norm for interviewing me about Hitler’s Silver Box. And be/stay well.

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