Interview with K.R. Kiehl, Author of Saving Krakow: A Novel

03 Jul 2024

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Saving Krakow: A Novel?

Saving Krakow is a story based on a military news article I read about a 103-year-old Soviet KGB agent who was credited with saving the Polish city of Krakow from destruction by German forces as they fled from Eastern Europe. The KGB agent began the war as an air defense soldier and then was recruited by the NKVD (the parent agency of the KGB) and later served in the Carpathian Mountains with Ukrainian partisan fighters. The NKVD agent had a mission to gather intelligence and save the city in addition to another Soviet Cavalry. The character of Sergei Bravo is a composite of the backgrounds I researched on both Soviet officers.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Saving Krakow: A Novel, what would they be?

Days of Glory Soundtrack, “Song of the Guerillas”, “Song of the Fatherland”

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Historical fiction, biographies of famous leaders and writers I admire. I write mostly historical fiction and short stories.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Save the Cat!: The last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need by Blake Snyder. The July/August edition of Writer’s Digest; A detailed guide to self-publishing with Amazon by Chris McMullen, and re-reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

I had lots of fun writing the whole book but a few chapters and or scenes brought me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. In a few situations, everything came together, the dialogue, the setting, and the action to make for pretty good prose: especially for a new writer. However, I am proud of Chapter Seventeen, Trouble in Paradise (starting on page 272). This scene takes place after a raid of an NKVD covert communication center. The head of counterintelligence for Krakow, Oberst Lieutenant Christensen begins to interrogate Lisa Vologoskava, Callsign Mosquito, about her involvement with the NKVD operation. This was the first time during my writing of the novel that a scene flowed for me. I could visualize the interrogation room, the smells, and the tension. The words just poured out for me during this scene. It wasn’t like that for most of the book.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I, like the famous British statesman Winston Churchill, chew cigars while I write. It’s a terrible disgusting habit but my wife begrudgingly allows me to do it, at least when I am in the middle of a big writing project. I also burn scented candles (current scent is sand & driftwood). When I get stuck and feel less creative, I play 80s alternative music and it gets me motivated. Not sure why but it works.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” ~ Winston Churchill

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

This book was based on true events that took place during World War II. The events and details are based on the true timelines, locations, and end results. Just the dialogue and a few minor characters were added to help the story.


K.R. Kiehl is the author of the new book Saving Krakow: A Novel

Connect with K.R. Kiehl

Author Site



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