On the Shelf: Author James Conroyd Martin

September 4, 2008 8:23:12 AM PDT
James Conroyd Martin is a suburban high-school English teacher; his students can learn a lot from him about creative writing. Martin is the best-selling author of two historical novels. Push Not the River is a novel based on the diary of Anna Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the Third of May Constitution, an important event in Polish history. Martin became interested in the countess' story through his friend, John Stelnicki. He showed Martin a diary that had been handed down within his family for 200 years. Martin's translation of that historical diary from the Polish revealed Anna's amazing story and led to the creation of Push Not the River. The sequel is Against a Crimson Sky. Martin is working on his third novel, The Warsaw Conspiracy, a political thriller that will complete the trilogy.His first two novels have become popular in Chicago, as well as across the United States and Europe. But it was not easy for Martin to get his work into print. He self-published his first book in 2001. A year later, St. Martin's Press purchased the book and released a hard cover edition; Polish and German rights sold almost immediately. Martin has also sold the film rights to Push Not the River, so it could become a feature film. His second novel Against a Crimson Sky followed in 2007; it has also been translated into Polish and is also a best-seller. So Anna Berezowska's story has come full circle: from Polish to English and back to Polish.

His novels have earned Martin a gold medal from the American Institute of Polish Culture. The same award, for the promotion of Polish history and culture, has been given to Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland; director Jerzy Hoffman; U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, as well as writers James Michener, Jerzy Kosinski, and Norman Davies.

Martin, who holds degrees from St. Ambrose and DePaul Universities, is a longtime English and creative writing teacher at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights.

For more information, visit www.JamesCMartin.com.

To view the book trailer for Push Not the River, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv_16jzWe_0