Tuesday Jun 04, 2024

Episode 33 - How to turn secrets into stories with Sasha Vasilyuk

Imagine finding out that someone you loved lived a double life…keeping a secret the entire family knew nothing about until after they died.

Secrets, especially those born out of shame, can make us feel small and hidden. They can have dangerous consequences, not just personally, but also socially and culturally. 

On the other hand, bringing those secrets to light can be profoundly enlightening, powerful, and maybe even spark social change. 

On today’s episode of the Storytelling with Heart podcast, we explore both the impact of secret-keeping and the potential of storytelling, with journalist and debut novelist, Sasha Vasilyuk.

Sasha Vasilyuk is a journalist and author of the new novel, Your Presence is Mandatory, which spans between World War II and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Sasha has an MA in journalism from New York University and her nonfiction has been published in the New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, CNN, Time magazine and more. 

Sasha grew up between Ukraine and Russia before immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 13. In 2007, after her grandfather’s death, Sasha’s grandmother discovered in his papers a confession letter addressed to the KGB, revealing a history previously buried. Loosely inspired by her grandfather’s story, the novel explores the multi-generational impact of not only war and trauma, but also secrets and stigma. 

In this episode of the Storytelling with Heart podcast, we explore Sasha’s fascinating family story, as well as broader themes such as:

– The value of fiction writing and how it can be used to explore nuanced and difficult subjects.

– The personal and social risk of internalized shame – how storytelling, or the lack thereof, can shape cultural narratives as well as causing personal harm.

– How to navigate the muddy waters of sharing complicated stories with our children and young people.

– The challenge of sharing sensitive or vulnerable stories, and how to decide when it’s worth it to share the truth (or not).

– Why it’s worth exploring family histories, regardless of whether you want to publish them.

– Plus, tips for memoir and creative nonfiction writing!

When you’re done listening, check out Your Presence is Mandatory here: www.sashavasilyuk.com/your-presence-is-mandatory.

Comments (0)

To leave or reply to comments, please download free Podbean or

No Comments

Copyright 2022 All rights reserved.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Version: 20240320