After completing his medical residency and liver disease fellowship, Dr. Malnak practiced as a board certified internist. He served as Chief of Internal Medicine at the US Army Hospital, Fort Sill, OK., and was medical director of several organizations. Dr. Malnak was also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University.
Dr. Malnak’s father emigrated to the US from Lithuania when he was sixteen, leaving behind a large family. They were all subsequently sent to a Nazi death camp during World War II and were exterminated. As a result of that tragic familial history, Dr. Malnak developed a keen interest in the Holocaust and has read widely on the subject. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Florida with their whippet, Paige, and parakeet, Kiwi. Hitler’s Silver Box is his first novel.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m a retired internist, originally from the Chicago area, now living with my wife in Florida. During my long career, I was a medical school professor, a clinical investigator in liver disease as well as a medical director of a number of organizations, including a large inner city hospital emergency department.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
During my long professional career, I did quite a bit of non-fiction writing. After retiring, I took a continuing adult education course in writing fiction with Hollis Alpert, a well known author in Naples, Florida. The course lasted a few years and got me involved in writing fiction. The teacher suggested I expand a short story into Hitler’s Silver Box—A Novel.
Do you have another job besides writing? No, retired from my profession as an internist.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Hitler’s Silver Box is a historical thriller revealing a worldwide Nazi resurgence is inevitable unless a young physician finds and destroys an old document hidden in a silver box that his Holocaust survivor uncle was forced to make in a Nazi concentration camp and secretly buried in a Czech forest fifty years ago. The nephew and an attractive Israeli female companion with a military background are pursued and attacked by present day Nazis intent on reviving the Reich.
In the fiction class, we wrote lots of short stories which Mr. Alpert critiqued. He suggested I expand the story into a novel, and Hitler’s Silver Box was begun in ernest.
Perhaps, I was drawn to the topic of the Holocaust, because my father’s entire Lithuanian family was murdered by Nazis during the Holocaust.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
While I didn’t literally outline, I kept track of each scene and each chapter and tried to plan ahead and fill in gaps where necessary.
Did your book require a lot of research?
Since the novel is a historical thriller, a lot of research was necessary. I literally became a silversmith to learn about the craft. Did considerable research about the Holocaust in general and Theresienstadt in particular. There’s a considerable amount of medical information in the book, but for that I relied on experience and knowledge, especially the years I was medical director of a large city hospital emergency department.
What was your goal when writing this book?
To teach the current generation about the Holocaust as well as present day Nazi types while getting them involved in an exciting thriller, instead of a perhaps a boring history text.
Who is your target audience?
All adults and older teenagers.
What will the reader learn after reading your book?
The reader will become familiar with some basics of the Holocaust as well of the dangers of present day Nazi types. The reader will learn some about emergency room medicine and be exposed to an exciting thriller full of twists and turns that keep her or him on the edge of their seats.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
Most of my best ideas come while I’m sitting in front of my computer thinking about how to put my readers into a scene. Once in a while, a terrific idea pops into my head as I’m falling asleep, so I keep pen and paper by the bed. By morning the idea is usually gone unless I write it down. I have been known to jump out of bed, rush to my computer and type away before the thought escapes me.
From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
Unfortunately, I was plagued with a number of serious illnesses and operations that took my mind off the book. Total time elapsed was almost nine years.
What types of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
Scenes in which there are detailed descriptions of landscapes. I am severely color-blind which causes me some difficulty in this regard.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I write each scene non-stop putting aside my censor. However, I then start each session by carefully editing my last session. Too compulsive to wait until the work is finished.
When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
I feel passionate about accuracy in every aspect of my writing. When it comes to the Holocaust, I want the reader to smell the smells and choke on the dust.
Are you a disciplined writer?
Not nearly as much as I’d like to be. I have to admit, it took me a great deal of study to learn the craft of writing fiction. On the other hand, writing non-fiction during my profession seemed more natural.
When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?
I’m a morning person. Often write for an hour or more while drinking coffee before breakfast.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write, rewrite, get it right.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Novel’s Trailer HERE
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I’m working on a sequel to Hitler’s Silver Box. It will be a medical thriller starring both Bruce and Miriam and some different terrorists who are planning threats to our nation’s security.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
Seeing people enjoy my writing.
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!
Read my review of Hitler’s Silver Box.