Oakville women’s club welcomes award-winning author, Eva Stachniak

Oakville women’s club welcomes award-winning author, Eva Stachniak

Award-winning author Eva Stachniak visited the American Women’s Club of Oakville for their monthly meeting on Thursday at St. Paul’s United Church.

Born and raised in Wroclaw, Poland, Stachniak spoke about her latest novel, Empress of the Night, which delves into the life of notorious Russian empress, Catherine the Great, and concludes the author’s five year, two-book project.

She acknowledges her early life in Poland as an inspiration for her Catherine novels, which began with The Winter Palace, a bestseller in Canada and Europe.

Stachniak mentioned an “absence of stories from behind the Iron Curtain” and her experiences when coming to Canada on a scholarship to McGill University in 1981. People expected things from the new immigrant; they wanted to know what she brought from Poland.

She decided to tell her stories.

Photo Credit: Stanisław Jerzmański.

Photo Credit: Stanisław Jerzmański.

Necessary Lies, Stachniak’s first novel, was published by the Antigonish Review in 1994 and won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. After teaching English and humanities courses at Sheridan College (Oakville) from 1988 to 2007, she began working on her Catherine the Great project.

“For these novels, it was about seven months worth of research and also some traveling to St. Petersburg, and to the archives in Poland. Historical accuracy is important. If I have a character that’s a historical character, I don’t want to put in events that didn’t happen,” she said.

“The Empress of the Night is a very intimate portrait of Catherine The Great in different periods of her life.”

Personal memoirs, biographies, Russian history, Stachniak read everything, becoming fascinated with the Empress — a smart, ambitious, complicated woman who wanted to justify the political murder of her husband.


The novels give readers a glimpse into the life of an unfortunate mother turned flawless ruler, a sort of companion set to introduce the historical figure; readers enter a past world through Stachniak’s poignant voice.

“It’s a very intimate portrait of Catherine The Great in different periods of her life, including the time before she dies. I try to portray her as a young woman, a young empress and as an aging woman,” Stachniak said.

Members at the club meeting were enthusiastic about their guest speaker and asked plenty of questions before lining up for a book signing.

“The historical review was very interesting and there are a lot of people in this group who love to read. People always enjoy hearing an author speak and enjoy the insight into that creative process,” said Corine McCorkle, a 10-year member of the AWCO.

Stachniak says she’s completed her next novel, which focuses on historical Russian/Polish dancers Vaslav Nijinsky and Bronislava Nijinska.






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