Welcome Wednesday: Learning from the Past with Marilyn Borga

Author: Marilyn Borga

Book: Forever Kozy

Genre: Christian Fiction

About the Book: Kozy Hanner is an overcomer. Orphaned at the age of eight, she is rescued by her immigrant grandmother. Years later, when one of her students is whisked into foster care, Kozy’s long-suppressed anger at her parents is rekindled. She realizes that perhaps she hasn’t totally surrendered her past to Christ after all.

Article: Learning from the Past with Marilyn Borga

Interview by Jenny Fulton

In her freshman year at college, in her first and only creative writing course, Marilyn Borga received some great advice from one of her teachers. “Write what you know,” the teacher said. These words would follow Marilyn throughout her life.

“It doesn’t mean that a writer needs to know everything about everything; that’s where research comes in,” Marilyn said as she expounded upon her teacher’s wisdom. “Research provides the tools to write about historic events, other cultures,  and interesting places. What this phrase does mean is that I should share my innermost self with my readers. The ring of truth in a story usually grows out of a writer’s own experiences with life. Unforgettable writing will reach out to touch the soul. As a Christian writer, I hope the emotional and spiritual experiences I create for my characters seem genuine and true. I’m feeling their emotions as I think about what my characters are going through. I’m struggling with them as they fight their spiritual battles. I’m sharing my human experience with them and hopefully with my readers as well.”

While Marilyn usually enjoys writing personal memoirs, inspirational fiction, and short devotional articles with Faithwriters.com, her first book, Forever Kozy, is in the genre of Christian fiction. Although it includes a love story between a young man and woman, it’s also a story that speaks of friendship, family, redemption, and faith within the Christian community.

“I wanted to write the kind of book that I like to read,” Marilyn told me. “A book should teach as well as entertain. It should have characters you grow to love, who impart wisdom, whether from their failures or their successes. I love it when a book demonstrates the positive impact Jesus can make in one’s life. I love a story that strengthens one’s faith in God and gives hope. This is what I attempted to do. I didn’t start out thinking I would publish a book; it started as a fun challenge. As the story developed, the characters I had created became almost like family and I found I couldn’t abandon them. After four years and several revisions, I felt I had a story that deserved to be published.”

Some of the key themes in Marilyn’s book center around community, forgiveness, redemption, and hope. In weaving these truths throughout the story, Marilyn pulled much from her own experiences. Like many of us, she has struggled with the idea of forgiveness. I asked her to share a bit more about her life in this area and she very graciously opened up.

“My dad had emotional issues that led to him abandoning our family when I was a child. I was fortunate to have a great mom who demonstrated forgiveness. She could have turned to bitterness, but she chose compassion.  I’m thankful for her loving example. The remembrance of her positive attitude continues to guide me even today.”

In her book, the main character, Kozy, faces the challenge of forgiving her deceased parents.

“She must revisit long-suppressed memories before forgiveness can happen and true healing can take place,” Marilyn shared. “Her love interest, Nolan, must deal with issues from his past as well and must learn to forgive himself. I loved placing these characters in the fictional small town of Shelby Falls where family and Christian friends offer loving support, guidance, and acceptance.  That’s the way things ought to be.”

In addition to the spiritual themes pulled from sermons, Bible studies, and life experience, Marilyn also drew upon her cultural heritage to give life to her characters.

“One thing that makes my book unique is the Hungarian/American cultural theme. Kozy, was raised by her Hungarian immigrant grandmother. The wise lessons learned from her ‘Gram’ play a large part in the way she navigates life as an adult. Since all of my grandparents came to America from Hungary, it was natural for me to weave this culture into my story.”

Other aspects of personal life that made their way into the story include Marilyn’s time spent running and traveling, her husband’s professional firefighting career, their Christmas tree business, and a very special woman named Carrieanne.

Marilyn’s heart poured out onto the page as she described this beautiful person who directly inspired the creation of a vitally important minor character in the book.

“Carrieanne was the remarkable daughter of a friend who was born with all five components of the extremely rare birth defect called Vater Syndrome. The love, courage, and unfaltering faith of this young woman defined her so much more than the condition she was born with. I was so inspired by Carrieanne and the way she tackled her life’s challenges that I decided to memorialize her as a mentor in my title character’s life.”

Overall, Marilyn hopes that through reading her book, people will gain a new or greater knowledge of the Hungarian Revolution, a better understanding of addictions, and most importantly, that they would obtain a stronger sense of community and hope.

Book Blurb

Kozy Hanner is an overcomer. Her parents’ involvement in the drug culture had put her in foster care at an early age. Orphaned at the age of eight, she was rescued by Maria Kozma, her immigrant grandmother, and grew up in a close-knit Hungarian-American community in Cleveland, Ohio. Her beloved Gram died as she was finishing her degree, leaving her alone once more. Now she is happily teaching third grade in Shelby Falls, Ohio, and her future seems to hold bright promise. In spite of their less-than-perfect blind date, Kozy’s relationship with handsome Nolan Calderon is quickly moving from friendship to budding romance. When one of her students is whisked into foster care, Kozy’s long-suppressed anger at her own parents is rekindled. Kozy realizes that perhaps she hasn’t totally surrendered her past to Christ after all. Her future happiness with Nolan is jeopardized by the doubts and fears her newly triggered memories uncover. A series of shocking revelations soon force both Kozy and Nolan to face events from their pasts. Before their relationship can move forward they must learn valuable lessons in forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.

Book Preface

You will not find Shelby Falls, Ohio on a map. It is solely the product of my imagination. But I hope that the essence of small-town America can be seen on these pages. We all need a place to call home; where family and friends, both old and new, can come together often and with joyful acceptance.

All four of my grandparents immigrated to America from Hungary in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This was long before the fictional character in this book, Maria Kozma, escaped from Hungary following the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956. But Maria’s hardworking, courageous, faith-filled, and family-oriented life is a reflection of what I have observed in the lives of my Hungarian-American family and friends.

The people in this story are fictional, with the exception of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, Premier Imre Nagy, and Janos Kadar. Each of these men played their roles, both good and bad, in the 1956 Revolution. There is one other exception. There really is a Carrieanne, though some of the details have been changed, and she is no longer on this earth. She was truly an inspiration and a model of personal strength and faith to all who had the pleasure to know her.

One doesn’t have to live long to realize that this world is full of sorrow and struggle. Christians are not immune. We know the way things ought to be, but oftentimes things don’t work out as we wish. Perfection won’t come until Christ returns in His glory. But meanwhile, our God is all about redemption and hope. He has given us friends as well as biological and church families to help us along the way. As we travel through this life we would do well to reach out to one another. My prayer for you is that the redemptive themes in this story might bring you hope and buoy you up in your journey.

Connect with Marilyn

Purchase Forever Kozy

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