Interview with Author Sandra Perez Gluschankoff

My guest today is Sandra Perez Gluschankoff.  Hello!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

Franzisca’s Box is a historical novel that revolves around a well-kept secret which gradually comes out to light when Sofia Lazar inherits a simple wooden box after the death of her dear grandmother. It is then that a veil is lifted and Sofia is faced with a tangled mystery that spans seven decades. The story is set against the backdrops of War World II Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, the later years of the Military Regime in Argentina during the 1980s, and present-day California. Franzisca’s Box is a story of war that ultimately affects three generations of women who will never find peace until they call for a ceasefire in their own wars and surrender to forgiveness and love.
The novel, published by Solstice Publishing, was released on March 9th, 2016. It’s available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback form, and also through the publisher.

Well, happy new release!
So, tell us, Sandra...
Is there anything that prompted Franzisca's Box? Something that inspired you?
The “write what you know” is not a myth, but a must, at least for me, when embarking on a writing project. History has always been a passion of mine and there are some historical periods I researched throughout time more than others. Being the granddaughter of War World II survivors that immigrated to Argentina right after the war has contributed with a lot of information I’ve gathered through the years.  I have filled this novel with the many stories I heard growing up and many others I created to fill in the blanks of the tales left untold. But it was my Romanian grandmother who inspired me to create the character of Claudia Lazar and ultimately write Franzisca’s Box. Although I knew of their struggle to get out of Romania and escape the grasp of the Bolshevik invasion after the fall of the Nazis. I also knew about the birth of my mother in a refugee camp in Italy and all the difficulties they faced when they were denied entrance in Argentina because of being Jews. I did not know much about my grandmother personally. She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, commanding, stoic, but an impenetrable mystery.  

It's fascinating what you can learn about your family history.


So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?


Not at all. I never considered writing as a path for me. Although I have always been an avid reader from an early age, the writing took me by surprise – organically, I would say.
Everything I’ve ever done or have been interested in had to do with people and their stories. I’ve always been fascinated about the origins of things not in a scientific manner, but historically. Always an over-analytical person, it was easy for me to construct different scenarios based on true stories, and put a twist to them in my head.
For many years after I moved to this country, a little over two decades ago, (just to throw it out there, I was born and raised in Argentina) I was at a language disadvantage. This heightened the importance of the written word for me. I read more than ever, in English of course. Every new word and every new phrase I learned was somehow left inscribed in my brain ready to be used as I chose. Call it the machinations of the psyche, but using the language of my newly adopted country became the tool with which I chose to blend all the languages I knew, the things I did, all the stories I ever heard, and all the stories I suddenly felt the urge to tell.

Great!  I love to hear about how an author got started! :)


Do you have any favorite authors, Sandra?


Many!  I love to read. Here are a few among the ones I can think of right now: Isabel Allende, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Elizabeth Chadwick, Kate Morton, Marianne Keyes, and Marcos Aguinis.

Okay. Let's try another question.


Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?


I prefer to write in the morning. My desk faces a window that overlooks a line of trees, that’s what I call my office. Sometimes, I carry my laptop to my bed and write there. And on many occasions, the best writing happens in my head when I’m away from the keyboard.

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?


Write and write some more even when you think you have nothing left to say. Write what inspires you; what drives you to tears and laughter. Write what you love, write for you.

Perfect advice. Thank you for offering those words of wisdom. 
And thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age.  It was so nice having you!  :)
Readers, here is the blurb for Franzisca's Box.
Mystery, betrayal, murder, and passionate love were things Sofia Lazar only experienced as a movie producer. All of that changed after her grandmother’s sudden death when she comes face to face with an unwanted revelation contained in a tattered box. The meager contents of the box take her back to her childhood and the fantastic bedtime stories that Abuela, her grandmother, used to tell her of a heroic warrior girl named Franzisca. Now, two decades later, fragments of Franzisca’s stories creep back into Sofia’s life, tying Franzisca and her grandmother to an unknown past. With the memories of her childhood bedtime stories to guide her, Sofia sets out to piece together her grandmother's mysterious history, leading her to discover the truth behind her life.
Set against the backdrop of World War II Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, the later years of the Military Regime in Argentina during the 1980s, and present-day California, Franzisca’s Box is a story of war that ultimately affects three generations of women who will never find peace until they call for a ceasefire in their own wars and surrender to forgiveness and love.

Here is an excerpt.


“Your abuela is dead.” The fateful news delivered by the voice of my estranged mother chased me all the way back to the home I had shared with Abuela, my grandmother, for the past twenty years. I had always entered the house through the garage and continued straight into the kitchen where the scent of a freshly baked pie, dark Turkish coffee along with the warm embrace of my grandmother awaited me. A rising fear of confronting the empty kitchen devoid of its familiar scents and its elegant hostess gave me pause. I felt like a coward, guilty for having let her die alone. I stepped down off the porch and filled my lungs with fresh air, taking in the beauty of the place we had called home. I turned to take a look at the hills sprouting with new green and yellow plant life and I was filled with happy memories. Abuela had loved this place and it was here where she had taught me to see the intricate magic of nature. This was the best time of the year, when the dead moldering vegetation of winter dissolved back into the ground, giving way to tender, sweet pastures that readied themselves to welcome the spring does and their fawns. I laughed inwardly at the irony of the scenery in front of me. I was witnessing life at its pinnacle, while death, my abuela’s death, was what had brought me back to face it.
The short walk around the property grounds led me up to the front steps of the house. There was no use in delaying the inevitable any longer, so gathering strength I did not feel, I pushed the key into the lock before the enormity of the task ahead would send me reeling back into the shelter of the open fields.
My footsteps echoed through the silent house, making me feel like a trespasser. The objects Abuela had carefully selected to become part of her fortress now glowered at me for interrupting their mourning. I was not the only one feeling empty. This home, the place she had reigned, had lost its queen.
I followed the yellow glow of light that emanated from Abuela’s study. For the past two decades, the warm glow of her brass lamp had become a testament to her solid presence, acting as a beacon, a safe path to her, and to her love.
I hesitated at the study’s threshold, but the familiar light lured me in. Always the optimist, I glanced around the room and met the grieving silence along with Abuela’s empty leather recliner with a feeling of disbelief. The cream chiffon drapes that framed the windows were drawn, rejecting the intrusion of natural light and the view of her favorite alpine roses. The cord connecting Abuela’s old-fashioned, black rotary phone to its jack lay unplugged on the wood floor, reluctant to receive calls. Gone was the pile of pending files that she kept on top of her sixteenth-century, Spanish, cherry-wood desk, as if she had attended to the last of their details before she saw fit to stash them away. Everything around her study lay in a state of disturbing order. And everything pointed to an intruder placed in the center of her large desk. It was an unfamiliar letter-sized box that immediately stole all of my attention. The box was made of wood, clearly weathered by the passing of time and splotched with water stains around the edges. A sheet of Abuela’s personalized stationary, folded in half, rested atop the box with my name scrawled across it. The brass desk-lamp stood strategically poised over the tattered container, its golden light illuminating the box, leaving no doubt that she had staged its delivery. All this mystery around a beat-up box made no sense, such as my last conversation with Abuela had made no sense to me at all at the time.
Roughly twenty-four-hours ago, my day had started like any other ordinary day since we began filming what I secretly called, The Italian Nightmare. With only four hours of sleep and legs hairier than Jane of the Jungle, I woke up that morning in Siena, Italy, wishing for the movie I was currently producing to be over and done with so I could fly back home to Solvang, California.
With the flavor of the rosemary-raisin bun I had eaten earlier that morning still lingering in my mouth I pondered over the one commitment awaiting me in Solvang: Breakfast with Abuela at her favorite pancake house.
I lifted my eyes from my laptop to find my assistant waving my ringing cell phone in the air.
She did not say who the caller was. I knew the call was from Abuela. No one ever called me on that number while I was working on location, but general rules did not apply to her. Still, she had never called me in the middle of the day.
Abuela had been everything to me; grandmother, mother, teacher, friend. Ours was a relationship in which unspoken love said more than any of the secrets she had never shared with me. Even at a distance, when my career had taken me away, we had always stayed connected. She was my last phone call before going to sleep regardless of which time zone I was in at that time. As much as I tried to argue against disrupting her sleeping pattern, she would not have it any other way.
With still twelve hours to go to our next phone call, I had found this mid-morning communication uncharacteristically strange.
“Everything okay, Abuela?”
For the first time in thirty years, without preambles, she dove straight into a subject we tended to skirt around.
“Sofia, are you happy?” she asked.
No one had ever asked me that question before, especially not her. Before answering, I looked around the set, felt a pull in my lower back that had nagged me for the past two weeks and visualized my unshaven legs.
“Yes, I am happy.”
After a prolonged silence, she came back on the line sounding a bit hoarse as though she had been crying. “I love you, Sofia.”
Her urgent declaration had come as a shock. For Abuela the word love was not spoken freely. Her conception of love was a raw, unrestrained surrender of oneself to another, a responsibility, a lifetime commitment. I knew she loved me, but why had she the need to assert it now?
“Abuela, are you all right?” I asked. My chest had tightened with concern.
“Never better,” she said, regaining her steady commanding voice.
The conversation continued without any mention of the sudden pronouncement of her feelings and with my assurance that I would be back home in time for our rescheduled breakfast the following Sunday, even if I was dead on my feet.
Standing alone in her study, the irony of the metaphor undid me. One of us was indeed dead. My eyes slid over the darkened order of the room then went back to the box staring insolently back at me from the center of the desk. It wasn’t an ordinary box. Its battered state spoke of safely kept secrets, hardship, survival. There was only one character in my life that had tempered all of those experiences and more. With that in mind, the events of the last twenty-four-hours were gradually falling into place. I thought back on the last conversation I had with Abuela. The way in which she had pronounced the words I Love You, brought back long buried childhood memories. Her words hinted to a time when we had shared a love for stories, fantasy, adventure. To Franzisca, the make-believe heroine she had introduced me to during my early childhood years. The fearless adventurer who could do it all, the fictional character I had secretly admired all of my life. The brave woman I’ve always aspired to be.
I remembered looking around the disheveled state of my rented apartment in Sienna, wondering if I had become who I had dreamt of being. Wondering if I was really happy. I shrugged. Was there a real answer to such an existentialist question? I saw my life as sliced in two. One part was infused with unlimited possibilities alongside Franzisca and her adventures. The other was limited by my fears, my skeptical thoughts on happy endings and my repudiation of everything Franzisca stood for.
Perhaps it had been the piled-up exhaustion throughout the production of The Italian Nightmare that had me fervently wishing that I could be embraced again by those stories that used to bring me so much warmth and comfort. Stories I ejected from my life because regardless of how much Abuela loved me, I had learned the hard way that fairytales only belonged in books. The most important question that nagged me with a big question mark was, why now? Why did I want to claim Franzisca back? The answer was simple. I missed Abuela terribly; moreover, I missed the connection we shared when we were both immersed in the land of Franzisca.
I couldn’t wait for another minute to disclose my feelings to her, in the same way she had done it earlier in the day. I knew that if there was a way to tell her how much I loved her, it was by allowing Franzisca back into my life. I reached for my phone and in that instant the caller ID on my phone’s screen blinked with an incoming call from Abuela, as if she had anticipated my need to reach her. I picked up the call on the third ring, “What’s up, Abuela?” I said in my best American girl slang. I knew how she despised that commonly used greeting, but I meant to humor her. I was expecting to hear her usual response of, “nothing is up other than air,” but instead the voice on the other end was Marcela’s, my mother, announcing my abuela’s death. Phone in hand and unable to utter a word after she broke the news, all I could think of was my missed opportunity and of Abuela’s insistence to never let a moment slip by.
The golden light shining upon the box granted me a glimmer of hope as I recalled a promise I made to Abuela when I was a little girl. With all my might, I pressed my hands on the box and prayed for another opportunity. Perhaps there was still one last chance for me to tell her how much I loved her.

Purchase Links:


Amazon Universal:



Wow! This sounds so interesting! 


Author Bio


Sandra was born and raised in Argentina, and immigrated to the U.S in her mid-twenties. While her academic background is in psychoanalysis, anthropology, Judaic studies and Hebrew language, her interests ultimately turned to writing. Through the years Sandra worked as a freelance writer. She is also a screenwriter and screenplay consultant.  Her historical novel, The Last Fernandez, was published in 2012. Franzisca’s Box is her second work of historical fiction. Sandra is currently penning another historical fiction story and anxiously waiting for the debut of Life Matters, a TV show she co-wrote, set to air on the FYI Network this July.

Author Links:




Amazon Author Page: 




Sandra's Books:



  1. Thank you for this enjoyable interview

    1. As always, thanks for stopping by, Martin! Happy to have you here. :)

    2. Thank you, Marie for having me over!


Featured Post

A Character Interview with Dillon from MOUNTAIN BLAZE, plus a conversation with author Debby Grahl!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview. These character interviews, ...