interview is with memoirist Greg Archer and his book Grace Revealed: A Memoir.
During his virtual book tour, Greg will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and
Noble gift card (winner’s choice). To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. And if you’d like
to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops
and enter there, too.
Archer’s work covering agents of change, history, travel and the entertainment
industry have appeared in The Huffington Post, Oprah Magazine, San Francisco
Examiner, The Advocate, Bust, Palm Springs Life, VIA Magazine and variety
of cable television outlets. A four-time recipient of the Best Writer Award
in a popular San Francisco Bay Area Readers’ Poll, he shines the light on
change agents near and far, and other under-reported issues in society. In
between receiving “signs” that he’s on the right track, he appreciates the time
11:11 (a.m. and p.m.). He splits his time between his hometown of Chicago and
The Bay Area.
Welcome, Greg. Please tell us about your
writer recently quipped that Grace
Revealed is “like a Polish Eat Pray
Love.” And I like that. The book chronicles my journey uncovering my Polish
family’s journey surviving Stalin’s mass deportation of Polish people during
the 1940s. You get two rich stories in there—mine and theirs.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was always intrigued with what my family went through during the 1940s, but I
was more intrigued with how under-reported the events were. Nearly one million
Polish people were sent to Siberia and later became Polish refugees, yet in
much of the recounting of WWII, we only hear about the Nazi-Jewish experience.
That’s truly important, too, however I wanted to shed light on a journey of
personal discovery (mine) as well as shed light on “The Forgotten.”
Excerpt from Grace Revealed:
returning to California, several more months passed before I could will myself
to take action and have the video file of my Polish family transferred onto a
DVD. Like the floppy disk before it, I refused to give it even a quick glance.
More than a year later, the DVDs were still buried underneath a sloppy
arrangement of paperwork in the bottom drawer of my desk.
passed. A lot of it. I kept myself busy—career, status, bright lights, and
Hollywood red carpet events; interviews with the likes of Piers Morgan, Martha
Stewart, Joseph Fiennes, and hosting community TV shows. All good. But a broken
family picture frame ignored … cannot stay ignored.
may have buried the DVDs, but for some reason, my family’s bona fide We
Survived Stalin procession continued to make an insistent stroll down the
streets of my mind.
Stalin. Siberia. Uzbekistan. Africa.
is a saying made popular by C.G. Jung: “What you resist persists.”
now, The Universe was suddenly taking delight in speaking to me through the
celebrities I interviewed—Chris Pine? “You will be led towards that thing you
need to realize.”
did I need to realize?
kept asking myself that question. The answer? In passing along the information
to me, my Uncle John had inadvertently made me an integral character in
their tale. I was now part of their story.
recalled the famous 12-step saying: This too shall pass … but first, it will
PISS. YOU. OFF!
some kind of perverse chain letter that must remain circulated, had my uncle
simply been the messenger? Were all cosmic fingers now pointing at me, asking
me to investigate something more deeply?
what? And why? I turned to another celebrity for inspiration.
Wayne said: “Courage is being scared to death … and saddling up anyway.”
had no other choice. Not really.
a chilly, foggy afternoon in Santa Cruz in late spring of 2012, I located Uncle
John’s original notes yet again. I placed them near other transcriptions of
interviews I had conducted with my Uncle Stanley, Aunt Jenny, and my mother,
Bernice. I retrieved the DVDs that contained some of those interviews and
opened their cases, fully prepared to watch them—again and again.
long as it took. It was as if I had been handed an elaborate, historic jigsaw
puzzle whose intricately shaped pieces with jagged edges had just been tossed
up into the air and the fragments had fallen down on top of me … and I had to
assemble them all back together again.
locked the doors of my cottage house. I pulled the drapes over the windows. I
lit several white votive candles and burned small strands of white sage. If I
was really going to travel back in time—really look at this stuff—best
to do so using as many spiritual accouterments as possible. Besides, if God,
The Universe, and the millions of Poles who suffered during the 1940s as a
result of Stalin’s madness truly wanted to show me something more than I
thought I already knew—that red and white were Poland’s color scheme and that
their Polish Eagle always flies high—well, this was the only way I knew how to
officially report for duty.
stop: Ground Zero—eastern Poland, early February in 1940, the moment when my
family’s “once upon a time” swerved horribly off course and their “happily ever
after” turned into a fractured fairy tale—once all theirs, but now, suddenly
mine to experience. I pressed play on a DVD filled with recorded family
interviews. Moments later, words turned into animated images and the images
pieced themselves together, boldly projecting onto the big movie screen of my
mind. My eyelids fell shut.
Sometimes that’s the only way to see everything more clearly.
are you working on next?
I am working on another memoir. The running theme of it is “home”—what is it,
where is it, what is it about that is so vital; how do we connect there?
consider yourself a writer?
I was in high school. I wrote feature stories for the school newspaper and I
knew back then.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I am a full-time journalist and author. I typically like to/ need to write
early in the day.
What would you say is your interesting
I often write about emotions … or, in my case, mood swings. There’s some rich
material to explore on that swing.
you want to be when you grew up?
Mostly a writer. There was a time when architecture intrigued me.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
One thing that I would like to share is the importance of understanding one’s
ancestry. With the rising popularity of ancestry.com and genealogy.com, I find
the subject matter fascinating. I often encourage readers to explore their
family’s past. For years, I resisted, but when I finally embarked on learning
more about my family’ tale, it was quite remarkable and cathartic.