Interview with Heart Touchers Author, Irene Budzynski
Heart Touchers: When did you start writing?
Irene Budzynski: I can honestly say I don't remember
a time when I wasn't writing. Fortunate to be taught
by Catholic nuns in a parochial school where King
Grammar and Queen Punctuation ruled our English
classes, writing short stories and book reports were
weekly assignments. My love of words became a
passionate obsession which was supported and
encouraged by two teachers, to whom I owe
I put aside any thoughts of becoming an author when
my father died in my sophomore year of high school The
only writing I did was in journals or in the form of letters
(LONG letters to any poor soul who unwittingly gave
me his address).
The death of my aunt in 2000 forced me to pour out
my heart on paper. That opened the locked door to
my writing which had been dormant for over 35 years.
With the encouragement of a friend, I mustered the
nerve to submit my work online.
HT: Why do you write?
IB: It's as natural as breathing. If I don't put my
feelings and thoughts into words, they relentlessly
continue to knock on my heart.
HT: Where do you write?
IB: Actually, I write in my head. I sit at the computer
and the words flow through my fingers. (I'm not
making this up...) I refine and patch as I go along,
but the story is written before I touch the keyboard.
The computer itself is in an upstairs bedroom, but
now I have a laptop to use on the front porch where
I can see my lovely woods.
A couple of times I had what I thought was a good
idea for a story, sat down & typed a title, then drew
a blank. A halfhearted effort produced two sentences,
and I gave up on that format.
What works for me is to listen to what is in my heart,
and to not contrive a story.
HT: Have you had any odd or strange jobs in your life?
IB: Having worked since 14, I will do anything legal which
will bring income. My mother insisted I take typing
lessons so that I would have a "trade". That was one
of the few things to which I paid attention.
So that I wouldn't have to leave my preschool child, I
had a typing business at home. I offered pickup & delivery
as part of my service. However, one playwright didn't
want me to take his work out of his home, so I hauled
my IBM Selectric in and out of my car and into his
house every day and pounded away while my little
one played near me.
Needless to say, it wasn't profitable for me, but I
did realize that there are some lousy playwrights out there!
HT: What book are you currently reading?
IB: Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
(a story of persecution in Communist China
during the Cultural Revolution) and Bitter
Winds by Harry Wu (same subject).
HT: What do you like to read?
IB: Stories of triumph over adversity
Least favorite: War and Peace - I don't know what
the brouhaha is over that one. It was torture for me,
but I read it to say that I did. Yuk!
HT: Favorite authors?
IB: I don't like "fluff", so that leaves out a lot of writers.
If I have to name one other than those who write for
Heart Touchers, it is James Behrens, OCSO,
a Trappist monk in Georgia. His work never fails
to grab my attention. His manipulation of words
into a beautiful art form is awesome.
HT: What was your first story to be published?
IB: "Night Shift"
HT: First story you remember writing?
IB: Grammar school..."Magic Carpet" was my story
about how much I loved books. I can still
remember the feeling of "busting out all over"
with pride when Sister John wrote her kudos
in red on top of that paper.
HT: Where does your inspiration come from?
IB: I talk to God all through the day, and ask Him to
use me for His work.
Sometimes I'll be thinking about a problem and pray
for guidance, and my answer or a different insight will
occur while driving. Or, I will meet a stranger and have
a brief conversation. Anything will get my gears
working. A lot of inspiration is through nature or a
chance encounter. I ask a lot of questions about
people when I meet them and learn a lot about
human nature by listening. I watch people and
how they handle problems and am always amazed
at the stamina of those who have had some major
tests in their lives.
I'll get a newsflash in my head while driving & grab
the pen on the console & write on whatever paper
I have handy on the seat next to me (which is
usually full of books on their way to or from the library).
HT: Of the stories you have written, what is you favorite story?
IB: "Going Home"
HT: Hardest Story?
IB: "More than a Paycheck"
HT: Do you have anything to share about when you first
looked at your book, or the book you first had a
story published in?
IB: When Azriela Jaffe contacted me and said she
was interested in my story for a Heartwarmers
book, I thought I would swoon:) When I got her
call verifying acceptance of it, I DID.
HT: Did you dream about being a writer when you were
growing up or did it just happen?
IB: I recently found a letter written to my future husband
in 1968. "Maybe I'll become a famous author..." So,
the seed was planted many years ago, but my first
priority was raising my children all these years. Now
I am free to dust off my brain.
HT: Did you write stuff as a child or young person that
you can now go back and look at with pride, or
maybe even laughter?
IB: I was reading love letters and actually blushed
when I saw what I had penned. The prose was
AWFUL -- flowery and absurd.
HT: Who do you admire in life?
IB: All the persecuted in our world today who dare
stand up for their beliefs--the victims whose names
we will never know and who don't have the freedom
to tell their stories. I would like to think I'd be able
to have their courage.
HT: What has influenced you most in your writing for good or for bad?
IB: I'm tired of evil being touted as acceptable in our
society. Instead of continuing to complain about
how offensive the media has become, I consciously
decided to do something positive.
HT: Do you have any advice for those who also write or
may be just starting out?
IB: Read more good writing by authors you admire
and trash the rest. "Garbage in, garbage out,"
as I tell my children. Don't worry about people
laughing at your writing. Use your own style
and don't copy others' style--it will be phony.
Have a trusted friend who will read your work and
critique it. My dear friend, Karen, did that for me
and was influential in pushing me out of the nest
where I was content to sit alone with my work.
A friend/mentor is very important to me.
HT: What do you like to do when you are not writing, i.e., hobbies?
IB: Read, read, read. I have stacks of books and
magazines in just about every room in the house.
I don't listen to radio in the car--there's always an
audio book in the cassette player. I'm hoping my
mansion in heaven has a down-filled chaise longue
in a room filled with all the books I could ever hope
When I was a girl I read Poe's "Masque of the Red
Death" while taking a bath. I was home alone and
became so terrified after reading it, that I wouldn't
get out of the tub. I sat in cold water and wrapped
a towel around myself until my mother came home.
I would sit on the ledge of the window in my room,
after lights out, reading by the light of the moon. A
flashlight under the covers was my other trick.
Swimming, dancing, needlework, and music are
favorites, but sitting with family on the front porch is the best.
HT: Future writing plans?
IB: To publish a book of my own. I don't have the
experience or the chutzpah yet, but will know
when the time is right.
I grew up hearing stories about the brutality in Poland
during and after WWII, and am intensely interested in
human rights. Would like to speak up for the silent
victims of today, people in China and Africa who have
no one to carry their message.
For now, I'm dancing as fast as I can with family as
my #1 priority in the long line of responsibilities.
It's easier to find the time when my son is in school.
Too many distractions are in this home during the
summer. I'd rather watch the stars or the fireflies!
HT: How about any questions you would have liked
me to ask you, but I didn't?
IB: What is the best thing to have happened since
writing for the public? I have met the most special
people from all over the world whom I never would
have known if it wasn't for having stories published
online. It's been a gift to read letters from people
who carry so many problems, but who continue
on with faith. My own faith has been sprinkled with
the waters of strength and encouragement by
being given an insight to others' lives.
HT: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
IB: Actually I would like to know exactly what subjects
readers want to read? What do they bypass? Of
what do they want more? What kind of stories
encourage them to lead better lives? What gives
them hope? There are a lot of "filler" stories online
and, I don't know about you, but I don't have enough
life left in me to read all that is out there. I have
become very particular, so I would love to know
what would grab a reader's attention.
Born in Connecticut to a railroad worker and a
homemaker, Irene grew up in a strong Old World
tradition, involved in Polish folkdancing and culture,
and educated in Catholic schools. The love of her
life was met at Alliance College in Pennsylvania
and marriage during the Vietnam War resulted in
Having lived in California for 10 years, she and her
family returned to Connecticut to live a family-oriented
lifestyle in a rural area of the state. Staying home
with her children was priority, and it wasn't until her
40th birthday that she went to nursing school.
She is a newcomer to public writing, but has always
had a pen in hand.
Irene has been assisting her mentor, Alma Roberts
Giordan, in the publishing of Alma's book, What
This Old Hand Knows, due to be published
(hopefully) in December. Alma has been writing for
over 50 of her 84 years of life and is Irene's inspiration
to "just sit down and write."
I'd also like to mention the radio program which
I think a lot of readers would find inspirational.
My "Night Shift" story will be featured on the
November 1 broadcast. If they go to:
their local radio station can be found where they
can listen to Bill Pierce's half hour of music,
prayer, reflections. I found it by chance and
listen to it on the way to the hospital to set
the tone for my night.
Below are a number of stories that Irene has graciously shared with our Heart Touchers readers. Click on a title to read them!
If you would like to write to Irene and share your thoughts, ask her more questions, or let her know what you thought of one of her stories, you can do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org
She would love to hear from you!