Are My Roots Showing?

I'm delighted to say my first novel 'Are My Roots Showing?' a romantic comedy set in Warsaw, Poland, is available now on Amazon through Cirrus Publishing.

The book is about 39 year old British born Pole Magda Mikolajczyk, who leaves her job in London to go and work in Warsaw.

Apart from the historical bits, and the story of the bad perm (based on a perm I had in Poland many moons ago), the novel's fiction.

To be honest, I have always wanted to go to work in Poland. It's just that it's so far away, and in spite of my Polish heritage, I'm so very... British!

Are My Roots Showing? first started off as a funny diary and the protagonist was me. It was a while before I detached myself and created a fictional main character, Magda, which also freed me quite a bit - and it took me a very long time to discover the story and balance it all out. I think the impulse to write factually in the first person possibly came from my background in stand-up comedy.

People often ask me if the mother is based on my own mother. Actually, AB, Aunt Basia, is more like my mother was. Like my mum, AB saw the sharp end of World War II and like my mum, she has lots of character.

So is Magda based on myself, or is she a figment of my imagination? When I was at drama school in Paris, Jacques Lecoq in Paris often said, 'People always create themselves.' I think he was right. Magda is like me in many ways - but so is brasher Dagmara. Different people bring out different traits in yourself and I think a bit of all the characters are in me (but maybe not Stefan!)

One of my favourite bits in the book is when Magda goes mushroom-picking with her elderly aunt in Kampinos forest. It's such a Polish thing to do. I also really enjoy the chapter where Magda remembers a trip to Poland when she was a child and took part in a Polish national dancing competition.

While I love to make people laugh, there are also some very moving sections in Are My Roots Showing? No one in life is spared trials or tribulation, even comic characters in novels.


Buy the book

The novel is available on Amazon now, in both Kindle and printed editions.

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It is a hugely entertaining, funny, heart-warming and often moving read 

Yorkshire Post

Featured Video

Here's why I set the novel in Warsaw.




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Mother’s Day & Celebrating Mother-type Figures

Mum on Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

My mum’s no longer with us, so while Mother’s Day for me is often tinged with sadness, I’ve realised I can celebrate and appreciate all the women in my life who are mother-type figures – women I love and who love me.

I have a dear elderly Aunt who isn’t related to me but who has been a mother-figure all my life. She was a friend of my mum’s and once, she saved my mum’s life – when my mum needed some crucial medicine. My aunt and I are going to a pony sanctuary together this Mother’s Day weekend as she adores horses.

..and to celebrate, Are My Roots Showing? is on offer this weekend

Then there are friends I’ve known for years – the kind that know you really well – just a word or a look – and they know what’s going on. The truth is, we mother and are mothered all the time.

There are two mother figures in my Warsaw-based novel Are My Roots Showing? and I’d say my mum’s in both these characters. There’s the protagonist Magda’s mum – who is Polish – but who has lived in Doncaster since the War. She dreams of Magda finding a Polish husband in Doncaster and suggests they go to Lidl to look out for one there. Failing that – she could put Magda in the Polish Gazette in the classified section.

My own mum suggested putting me ‘in the paper’ many a time and I can just hear her now. ‘That’s how people met after the War!’ she’d say while cooking up some Polish dish, like pierogi. I’d imagine the ad she’d put in if I let her: “Aged 39, good at most things, with child-bearing hips”.

There’s another mother-figure in the book who is Magda’s elderly Polish aunt, Aunt Basia (AB). If I’m honest, AB is the character who is really like my own mum. She’s been through a lot in the war, struggles with ill health and offers Magda nuggets of wisdom, advice and unconditional love.

The tender times I’m currently having with my elderly aunt are also a really good parallel of the relationship between Magda and AB. You don’t have to be related to someone to love them or class them as family and that describes the bond between Magda and AB.

Mum would have been proud of my book and would have no doubt seen herself in it. I hope that one day – some of the younger people I know and love now – will think of me as a mother-figure too. Maybe even my elderly aunt.

Are My Roots Showing? is on offer for 99p until midnight tonight. Why not buy it as a Mother’s Day treat?

And finally how could I not included a picture of my dog – mum just adored him.

Mother's Day - A Family pic of mum & dog

My author event at the Essex Book Festival March 18

Essex Book Festival Meet the Neighbours Karola Gajda

Essex Book Festival ‘Meet the Neighbours’…

The Essex Book Festival is in full swing and I’m delighted to say I will be taking part in their Meet The Neighbours Polish-themed event tomorrow at Harlow Library, Cross Street, from 3.45pm-4.45pm (for tickets click here).

Crime author Aga Lesiewicz and I will be in conversation about my novel ‘Are My Roots Showing?’ The book is primarily a comedy about a British Pole – a bit like myself – who goes to live and work in Warsaw and explore her Polish roots. As relationships both new and old form and develop, she learns about herself, her family and their past.  The Yorkshire Post called it a ‘heart-warming, funny and often very moving’ – read more reviews here.

I always enjoy live author events, possibly because of my theatre and stand up comedy background. You never quite know what’s going to happen. At one event, people started to share movingly about their family’s experiences in World War II. Speaking for myself, I feel that what happened to my mother in particular is never far from my mind and I think that one reason I wrote my book is that I want to pass that story on – history embedded in fiction…

What else is on…

At 1pm in Harlow library, Wioletta Gregg, longlisted this week for the international Man Booker Prize award will be talking to Sarah Perry about her beautiful book that I have just finished reading called ‘Swallowing Mercury’. It’s so vivid and evocative and reading it transported me right back to my childhood, my parents and a Poland of yesteryear. It’s stunning.

Also at 1pm, playwright Nicola Werenowska’s going to be doing a collaborative theatre piece about the effects of war and displacement – a theme I’m very interested in.

At 2.15pm, crime writers Piotr Tarczynski & Jacek Dehnel will be in conversation with fellow crime writers Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) about their book ‘The Mystery of Helcel House’.

From 12pm -4pm you can immerse yourself in family activities such as Polish egg-painting – something I loved to do as a child with my mum using molten wax and plant dyes (using onion skins mainly, and beetroot!) There’ll also be a performance by a pupils from the Polish Saturday School – again, something I did as I grew up – somewhat reluctantly I have to say. (During one performance I had to dress up as a toadstool).

Essex Book Festival family fun

All of Essex Book Festival’s events can be found here and the festival runs until the end of March. Events have been across 45 venues and involved more then 200 writers – amazing!

Poland guest of honour at this year’s London Book Fair


How fantastic – Poland being the Market Focus country at the London Book Fair this year, highlighting Poland’s publishing and writing talent. I shan’t be the only one coming away with a reading list as long as my arm – so many inspiring people have been featured.

Jacks Thomas, Director of the Fair said, “Poland has a rich cultural and literary heritage and with over 32,480 published titles a-year it continues to be a major player, a significant importer and exporter of translated works, and an innovator in the digital space. It’s a great time to be working in or doing business with the Polish publishing industry.”

In children’s literature there was Aleksandra and Daniel Mizieliński, authors of Maps,  graphic artist Marta Ignerska, Olga TokarczukJacek Dehnel and Polish ‘King of Crime’ Zygmunt Miłoszewski. There was historian and writer Professor Andrzej Nowak, award-winning science fiction writer Jacek Dukaj, plus many more.

And on Saturday March 18:

…the excellent line up continues with author Olga Tokarczuk in Liverpool at 1pm – and at Harlow Library – as part of the Essex Book Festival – myself at 3.45pm. I’ll be talking about my novel Are My Roots Showing? with author Aga Lesiewicz, author of the thriller Rebound.

More on the Essex Book Festival, and the other Polish artists featured, tomorrow.