Lynn Bradshaw


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Stura Maja (novel)

IMAGINE growing up in country which is under a crushing dictatorship. Your country is both crushed from within and without. Decisions are made about the work you do, the are allowed, where your children are fed an alien dogma during their schooldays, where there are inexplicable shortages of basic goods, where you are watched and informed on every time you step outside your front door, where people disappear for no reason, where foreign travel is forbidden unless it is to a "friendly" country. IMAGINE seeing no end to your country's misery and no hope for a better future. You toe the party line because you worry about your family and hope that, one day, your children will have a better life.

One day you have a chance to make a difference - to get inside the enemy's headquarters and challenge the system from within. Despite the cruelties and degredations you do not give up. You have chosen to make your stand and you must follow through with your plan.

You lose everything - your dignity, your freedom and your family. However, you continue to resist. Then, suddenly, the megalithic state no longer seems so secure. The people feel the change in the air and exact their revenge. They turn on the leaders who have made their lives so miserable. A fight ensues and the leaders call on their friends to help them but to no avail. The game is up. The leaders and their friends scurry away in the dark of night to a land where they can hide in full daylight while their former subjects hack away at removing their legacy and uncovering the truth of their rule.

The people regained their country and opened up the torture chambers for all to see. They pulled down most of the symbols of their repression and faced a new future. Some stayed on to build the new countries while others gained the freedom of movement that had so long been denied them. In the end, the lure of the old world drew them back and gave them the change to make amends.

Stura Maja: The Shadow of Fear is the fictionalised acount of one family's experiences during the period from 1968 to 2014. It draws on recorded factual accounts of the period and my own tour of the building in 2014.

  Czech border

Weaver of Words (novel)

In 1968 the Soviet Union called upon its allies to respond to a call for aid from the several members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.  The Soviet tanks helped to crush the so-called "Prague Spring," a few short months in which the people of the Czech and Slovak Republics were given more freedom of movement and association than they had experienced since the early the 1930s. The tanks ended the freedoms but did not crush the spirits. The citizens responded with protests. They refused to help the soldiers. They blacked out or turned around street signs. They hurled bricks, flags and flowers. They protested in the streets. They signed petitions. In the end, though, Soviet might won out on the surface. Under the surface resentment bubbled and so did resistance.

Ordinary people, workers and religious believers, helped to keep their native culture alive and to spread forbidden information. They worked in the shadows. No matter how powerful a government might be it cannot control all the population all of the time. It cannot record every mesage, tap every telephone, open and read every letter, listen into every conversation and follow every citizen all of the time.

In the shadows and under threat writers, artists, photographer and sculptors worked. Sometimes they were able to spread the fruits of their labours among their own people. Sometimes they were able to smuggle their products out to sympathisers in the West. Some won prizes. Some won plaudits. All contributed to keeping the creative spirit alive ready for when they were liberated from the Communist yoke.

The word-image above includes the words of the Tank Poem, a collage poem, by the main character in the novel. Marta Kucherova wrote this poem in anger as a reaction to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. It is the penning of this poem which takes Marta on an extraordinary journey and leads to an extraordinary life.

Unfinished stories

The Book Café ( unfinished short story)

There are times when all you need is a hot drink and a good book. The inspiration behind this story is a café I used to visit in Prague in the early 1990s. I have transplated the story to Budapest in our own time.

The English Teacher of Riga (a work in progress)

Hitler's army is closing in and war is about to strike at the heart of Europe once again. A middle aged woman and her husband have just bought a summer house on the outskirts of Riga. They dream of spending summers there with their children and taking part in the life of the summer town. At first all is well but as the political situation deteriorates they are forced to abandon Riga and to take refuge by the sea.




© Lynn Bradshaw 2017