Joanna Czechowska

Book title: The Black Madonna of Derby

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Genre: Literary fiction

Publisher: Silkmill Press

Pub date(s):  Polish edition, entitled Goodbye Polsko, 2006, English edition 2008

Biography:  Aged five, I wrote a short melodrama that featured a lady in white and some bluebells - I still have it. Sadly, fiction writing wasn’t encouraged at school - there was no English Language A Level and certainly no degrees in Creative Writing. I studied history at UCL and later an MA in history at Birkbeck and began working in magazines, writing non-fiction articles. However, in my spare time, I penned a synopsis and several chapters of a novel based on my childhood. Memories of my Polish grandmother came flooding back and weekends spent at the Polish Club which my father had helped set up in Derby. But the moment passed and I just shoved those chapters in a drawer and forgot all about them. About 20 years later, when my two children had started school, I’d started writing magazine short stories and came across those pages again. It occurred to me that there were no novels about all those post-war Polish immigrants and their children - so I decided to write one. It was time to tell their story, my story. The Black Madonna of Derby was taken by an independent publisher in Warsaw and came out first in Polish, under the title Goodbye Polsko, in 2006 then the English version was published in 2008. Now I’m the book review editor of Woman magazine. Every day I get a huge pile of books in the post - so much to read and so little time…


Twitter handle: @joczechowska

Location: London

Writer Superpowers (specialist subjects): I am the book review editor of Woman, so as well as writing and commissioning reviews I conduct author interviews and arrange competitions and giveaways. I have spoken at schools, book groups and libraries and will be speaking at the Derby Book Festival. I’m hosting a reader event with HarperCollins and authors Jane Green and Freya North and also recently helped judge a writing competition for Accent Press.


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