Review & Interview: Guilty Survivor by Marianne Stephens

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Denise Alicea

This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

This book was just an incredible read. You never know what life is going to hand to you in some cases and the memoirs of Tamerla speak volumes as to what can happen when you are in the middle of a war. The things that a person sees and how it changes their lives drastically. Stephens really gets her story down to the point where you feel you are there with her and lets us readers understand what she went through, not herself, but her family. Tamerla was a courageous woman whom I applaud with all my heart. Although she had to face her fears, she risked her life everyday in hopes of saving her family business, but also her family. What she sacrificed and what she did in the name of family has no words, but only the ones of love. It’s a piece of non-fiction that everyone should read. We always see the television and the wars it talks about, how families are affected, but when you read about it, you get down to the human level of it. You understand deep down to your soul what this woman experienced. Tamerla is a great example of what courageous women like her during times where they feel helpless and they have to survive.


Guilty Survivor

Marianne Stephens

Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing


Genre: non-fiction

Book Blurb:

Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in 
Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, 
fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her 
peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family 
restaurant business operating. One trip was made to remove her daughter 
from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their 
relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations 
Protection Forces soldier. A uniform and travel assistance came from a 
Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and 
religious zealots took control. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she 
left her country and moved to the United States with her husband and son. 
Tamerla is now a US citizen.




Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up on Long Island. Yes, I have an “accent”…and whenever I go “home”, it gets stronger!

I taught grades K-3, remedial reading and math for grades 1-6, and computers to preschoolers (when I knew very little about computers and stayed one lesson ahead of the kids!)

I loved reading biographies and Shakespeare. Switched to romance books and got hooked. I decided to try writing a book and now am published in both romance and nonfiction.


Tell us about your book? How did it get started?

A mutual friend introduced me to Tamerla Kendall. She was looking for someone to write her story. After speaking to her, I decided it was a project I’d like to do.

Tamerla lived in Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. She struggled to survive and keep her restaurant business operating in the hopes of “saving” it for her family when the war was over.

She experienced all emotions during the war: fear, courage, anger, sadness. Trust was difficult to allow, and betrayal was common practice by some around her.

Two risky checkpoint crossings were done: one to get her daughter to safety and another to visit family (masquerading as a United Nations Peacekeeping soldier). Both times, she risked getting caught and arrested…or shot.

Her hopes for stability after the war didn’t last long. Prosperity occurred, but so did lawlessness. When she was threatened with a gun pointed at her head because she’d married an American, her family made the crucial decision to move to the US.


What inspires you to write?

Nonfiction: There has to be enough detail to keep readers interested. If I think there is, I’ll write the book. I’ve done another ghostwritten nonfiction book about a speaker from an abused women’s shelter…and how she turned her life around.

Fiction: Romance. I love “happily-ever-after” stories and that’s what I want to write. Ideas pop into my head and I add them to a list of story plots. Sometimes a single event will inspire a story. In “Gone to the Dogs”, the first line is “Your dog ate your underwear.” This happened to me…although it wasn’t MY underwear my dog ate (my daughter’s)! After my visit to the vet, I knew I had to use this “event” in a story somewhere…and did.


What do you like to read?

Romance and nonfiction.  I like contemporary, paranormal, and regency romances. I’m still a fan of biographies.


What would your advice be for authors or aspiring authors in regards to writing?

Finish your book! So many people start and do endless edits, never finishing anything. Finish it. Join a critique group. Send it out. Write something else. KEEP WRITING!


Anything else you’d like to share?





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I intend to read this heart rending story one of these days.
Great interview and review.

Paris Brandon

You don't realize all of the things we take for granted. This sounds like a fascinating story and I'm looking forward to it.

Marianne Stephens

Thanks for the review/interview, Denise! Tamerla is an amazing woman and her story is one of courage and strength under dire circumstances.
Thanks Sandy and Paris…writing this book is so different than fiction. Real life facts can't be changed, and Tamerla's true story is amazing.


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