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Stephen Kiernan
Stephen Kiernan
Novelist, journalist, activist for conservation and hospice
Historical Fiction
War
WWII
Nonfiction
Where else you can find me
Personal website
Substack
Book a 1:1 with Stephen Kiernan
Hi!

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Talk soon,
Sam

Hello friend.

On my mind

I am continuously interested in how vivid stories can inform and expand our understanding of a complex world that faces huge challenges.

Why I'm excited to talk with readers

The readership my work has found is a fascinating and generous group of people. I miss them when I'm between book tours. And I am uplifted by their interest -- whether critical or supportive. I wonder what they are wondering.

I am grateful to my readers for making my life possible.

In gratitude,

Stephen K.

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My latest
My Substack
 by 
Stephen Kiernan
Where I've written

The Glass Château

One month after the end of World War II, amid the jubilation in the streets of France, there are throngs of people stunned by the recovery work ahead. Every bridge, road, and rail line, every church and school and hospital, has been destroyed. Disparate factions—from Communists, to Resistance fighters, to federalists, to those who supported appeasement of the Nazis—must somehow unite and rebuild their devastated country.

Asher lost his family during the war, and in revenge served as an assassin in the Resistance. Burdened by grief and guilt, he wanders through the blasted countryside, stunned by what has become of his life. When he arrives at le Chateau Guerin, all he seeks is a decent meal. Instead he finds a sanctuary, an oasis despite being filled with people every bit as damaged as him. But they are calming themselves, and recovering inch by inch, by turning sand into glass, and glass into windows for the bombed cathedrals of France.

It's a volatile place, and these former warriors manage their trauma in different ways. But they are helped by women of courage and affection. Asher turns out to have a gift for making windows, and decides to hide the fact that he is Jewish so the devout Catholics who own the chateau will not expel him. As the secrets of the chateau’s residents become known one by one, they experience more heated conflict and greater challenges. And as Asher kindles his talents for glasswork, his recovery will lead the way for them all.

“[A] spellbinding fable of sanctuary, art, and recovery.”

Booklist (starred review)

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Universe of Two

Graduating from Harvard at the height of World War II, brilliant mathematician Charlie Fish is assigned to the Manhattan Project. Working with some of the age’s greatest scientific minds, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard, Charlie is assigned the task of designing and building the detonator of the atomic bomb.

As he performs that work Charlie suffers a crisis of conscience, which his wife, Brenda—unaware of the true nature of Charlie’s top-secret task—mistakes as self-doubt. She urges him to set aside his qualms and continue. Once the bombs strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the feelings of culpability devastate him and Brenda.

At the war’s end, Charlie receives a scholarship to pursue a PhD in physics at Stanford—an opportunity he and Brenda hope will allow them a fresh start. But the past proves inescapable. All any of his new colleagues can talk about is the bomb, and what greater atomic weapons might be on the horizon. Haunted by guilt, Charlie and Brenda leave Stanford and decide to dedicate the rest of their lives to making amends for the evil he helped to birth into the world.

“Stephen Kiernan has pulled off the nearly impossible...The most tender, terrifying, relevant book you’ll read this year.”

— Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family

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The Baker's Secret

On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.

Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.

But in the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.

But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.

A tale beautifully, wisely, and masterfully told.”

— Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

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