As I write the biography of my great uncle Stefan, this blog is the "story behind the story," recording my process. The coming book will be about one man and his life before, during, and after the Holocaust, a survivor of Eastern Europe during some of its darkest days.

It's a history that spans the rise and fall of empires, the drawing and redrawing of nations, the horrors of genocide and the grace of survival. My task, which I chronicle here, is to write the story of a complicated man who was born into a region in upheaval and who survived through his own strength, strategy, and ambition, as well as the compassion of heroic individuals who helped save his life.


Transylvania blue is a traditional house color in the region of Eastern Europe where my great grandparents were born. Blue is a color, a mood, and a euphemism. In all of its connotations, it suits the story of my great uncle and his past.


I'm Johannah Knudson, a writer and author of this blog.

I founded Heliograph Communications in 2001. I'm a writing coach, writer, and communication strategist working with individuals and organizations striving for clarity, creativity, and authenticity in their communications.

Writing on a freelance basis has exposed me to subjects with which, as a writing student, I never thought I'd associate: semiconductor and industrial manufacturing, renewable energy, armor and ammunition, the healing arts, musicians and music performance, and more.

It's been a privilege to have access to such diverse worlds and people and to learn about them deeply enough to be able to write from a first-person voice and perspective.

Now, I'm dedicating that experience to a more personal project: an investigation into my own origins and the experience of my family during a particularly turbulent and brutal period of history.

It feels like everything that I've done prior has been preparation for the projects of this blog and the book I'm working on in parallel: the investigation into unfamiliar, sometimes foreign-feeling subjects to develop deep, even empathic understanding; the synthesis of diverse resources; writing from the perspective and in the voice of another; combining factual clarity with creative expression to flesh out a complete and compelling story.

Johannah Knudson, Writer