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Former journalist and educator following through on a life-long passion

Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 8:55 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Jim Smorada is a retired college professor who taught Memoir writing at Kilian Community College for 18 years.

Having been a journalist and writer in Sioux Falls, Jim decided to finally follow through on a life-long passion.

“So it’s haunted me; for a long time. but haunted in a good way,” said Jim Smorada.

Jim wrote “Between the Lines” to tell the story of his Austrian immigrant family from 1942 to 1945 in Fingal, North Dakota, and in Europe during WWII.

“You can do book research, you can go and look at newspapers and magazines, you can do genealogies. In this case, I didn’t choose to do that, I chose to go with memories,” said Smorada.

Jim connected with his cousin to find letters and Kodachrome slides Jim’s parents had taken to stitch together his story.

“134 letters to look at. Not a lot of people are lucky enough to have that resource. So I had my memories, those slides, and the letters,” said Smorada.

Through self-publishing and interweaving fiction, Jim found a way to connect the pieces of the past and his memory.

“In some ways, it’s an homage to my parents who took these photos. It was a time of excitement. And the positive emotions that were attached to many of the stories that occur in the book are recorded vividly because it is a pleasure,” Smorada.

Jim’s book encompasses different shades of the human psyche in times of struggle.

“I think one of the fringe benefits of memoir writing is that you work through your own needs to forgive, and in that, you work through your own needs to be forgiven,” said Smorada.

The feedback from readers has been both positive and moving.

“I have heard from others saying, ‘We see these people. We understand who they are.’ Okay, that’s what I wanted to achieve,’” said Smorada.

Through his book, Jim sheds light on the life of immigrants who built the Midwest and writes a tribute to his family.

“Having that realization that I’m linked to another place, another time, is the gift that my relatives, my mom, gave,” said Smorada.

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