Interview with Jenny Witterick
Interview with Jenny Witterick
I was born in Taiwan. My parents came to Canada with $200.00 and only my father could speak English (not well) at the time. Since I could not speak English at the age of seven, I could never have envisioned that one day I would write a best-selling book…in English.
It feels surreal to me that “My Mother’s Secret” has been translated into Chinese and is now published in Taiwan, the country where I was born!
One of my greatest joys is to visit schools and libraries to speak about the book. I don’t charge a fee. For me, it is a privilege to be invited.
None of the wonderful things that have happened to me would have been possible if I did not live in Canada, and so I embrace this wonderful country….it has allowed me to become the best that I could be.
In all my creative work: books, music, screenplays, and shows, I incorporate an inspirational aspect to my messaging. I truly believe as written in my first novel, “My Mother’s Secret,” that ordinary people can choose to be extraordinary by their actions.
Themes in the book, “My Mother’s Secret”
Love is a big theme in the book. Love for your family, your friends and finally a wider circle…your fellow man. I believe it is love that makes the unbearable bearable and the mundane exquisite.
Hope is also a big theme in the book. When all around you is chaos and fear, sometimes hope is all you have….but it is powerful and can get you through.
Appearance versus reality is also a repetitive theme in the book. On the surface, the heroine is uneducated and a poor peasant woman, but in reality, she is far more clever than appears and outsmarts the German Commander and her neighbors.
Gratitude, and the peace of mind that it brings, is a major theme in the book. It is also how the story ends. In my personal life, I have found that being grateful for everything and anything has been a big part of finding happiness and contentment.
Currently, I am producing a show at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto called “Journey to Happiness.” The show incorporates top hits from the 70’s right up to present day as well original songs that I have written. We have a live band (15 musicians) and will be showing photos and videos which will tell a story about the search for what makes us happy.
It is intended to be an uplifting experience. The show date is April 21st at 7:30 pm. If you would like to come, I would be delighted to provide you with complimentary VIP tickets (including a signed book by Robert Bateman).
All profits are going to support Toronto Wildlife…an organization that rescues and helps animals. If your readers would like to go to this show, they can purchase the tickets through Ticketmaster (code Wildlife for a 20% discount).
Consistent with the theme of love, kindness, and gratitude, I also donated the entire advance that I received from the Penguin Group for the international rights of “My Mother’s Secret” to charities.
What do you want your readers to take away?
With the story, “My Mother’s Secret,” I wanted to share my belief that love can transcend evil. I also wanted to show that heroes are just ordinary people who decide to perform extraordinary acts. I wanted to share that courageous people are not without fear…it’s just that they act despite the fear.
I also wanted to show that you can’t label any nationality as good or bad. In the story, which occurs during the Holocaust, a German soldier (who wants to defect) is saved by a Polish woman and then liberated by a Jewish man. It was important for me to show that you can’t judge someone merely by their race.
All my creative works have an inspirational element, and in this story I wanted the reader to take away the idea that even in the midst of unspeakable horror, there is still good in the world. I also wanted the reader to know that inner peace can only be achieved by fostering a sense of gratitude, and so the last words from Helena in the book are…”I am grateful, and it is a peaceful feeling.” She says this despite losing her brother.
Why did you become an author?
When you think about it, aren’t our ideas who we really are? So when people read my stories, they are allowing me to intimately share with them my inner thoughts and who I really am. It is a great privilege.
I have always loved how words can move us and provide experiences outside our everyday life. Perhaps I have always wanted to be a writer, but didn’t have the ability to do so until recently. Having time pass and accumulating the experiences which accompany that has allowed me to share authentically how I see the world. Maybe, it was my time.
Specific inspiration to be a writer?
My English teacher in high school always told me to pursue a literary career, but I listened to the practical voice in my head and went to business school instead. I ended up in the investment industry for almost 30 years. Then one day, I saw a documentary about this Polish woman and her daughter who at great risk to themselves saved these Jewish families ( No. 4 Street of Our Lady), and I thought this woman is remarkable.
I took the facts and wove a fictional story about what happened. I think sometimes the inspiration just shows up at your door when you’re ready to receive it. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something that might make a difference, something that would inspire, and it just felt right for that reason. I originally wrote the book for young adults and school-aged children, but it was surprisingly popular with adults of all ages. Sometimes the Universe is kind.
I wrote another book called, “It’s Actually a Good Thing,” about how bad things might actually be good things in disguise. This idea came from my observation about how people can let setbacks become permanent in their lives, and therefore never realize their potential and their dreams.
I wanted to share that our interpretation of events has a greater effect on us than the actual event. I believe we have the power to reframe anything that happens in a way that doesn’t hurt us at worst and maybe even helps us at best. When I started to live my life this way, it opened the world to me.
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