Local author harnesses the power of the storytelling


Author Katrina Shawver is “Passionate about the power of the written word to influence opinion, provoke discussion and inform the community.” 

Her writing career began in 1996 with the Arizona Republic where one of Katrina’s assignments was to interview 85-year-old Henry Zguda. His life and Katrina’s writing were about to walk on the main stage and take the spotlight. 

His story was a different perspective on the Holocaust, this time experienced through the Catholic Polish perspective. 

Zguda (1917-2003) was born in Krakow, Poland.  He grew up to become skilled in several languages, a competitive swimming champion and coach and a water polo player. 

In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland from the west and Russia invaded from the east.  By 1942 Henry was arrested by Germans and sent to Montelupich Prison. 

From there he went on to survive Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Flossenburg and a death march, before being liberated at Dachau at the end of the World War II.  

Katrina’s interview with Henry Zguda resulted in her book HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America,” released in November 2017 by Koehler Books based out of Virginia Beach.  

Since its publishing debut, the Arizona Authors Association named it the Best Published Nonfiction in October 2018. 

Also, the Polish American Congress awarded Katrina their 2018 Polish Heritage award for “her contribution to the documentation of the suffering inflicted on Polish people during the Holocaust.” 

This led to an invitation for Katrina to serve as the writer in residence at the Glendale Foothills Library this year from March through May. The writer in residence program is an effort funded though a grant from the Arizona State Library and Archives.

In April, the Arizona Talking Book Library aired an author interview for their “Conversations with Authors” interview series, and produced “HENRY” as a book available for free for those who qualify for their services anywhere in the U.S. 

The community will have an opportunity to meet author Katrina Shawver and hear “HENRY’S” astonishing story during several events scheduled for June.

On June 12, from 6 – 7 p.m.  for an Author Talk and Book Signing at theScottsdale Public Library, Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. The event is free and open to the public.

On June 24, from 6 – 8 p.m. for a Writing Workshop “Expand Your Writer’s Toolbox,” at the Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Drive in Tempe. The cost is $25. Call 480-730-0205 for reservations.

On June 26, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  for the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers, at the Starfire Golf Club, 11500 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale. The cost for dinner is $30.  You must register at: blog.brooksgoldmannpublishing.com, no later than Friday, June 21, by noon. Guests are welcome!

HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America”  is available at both Changing Hands Bookstores in Phoenix and Tempe and online, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  It is available in hardback, paperback and eBook formats.  Local libraries in Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Arizona Talking Book Library also have the book available.

Katrina can be contacted via Email, at Katrina@katrinashawver.com, or through her website at katrinashawver.com.

You can contact Arts Columnist, Shea Stanfield on her email at: flowingquill@yahoo.com.