Interview with Novelist Russel Lazega (Managing Bubbie)


Author Russel Lazega is a lawyer living in North Miami Beach, Florida. He is a columnist for the Aventura News and the author of several nonfiction publications, including Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and Practice (PIP), the nation’s leading treatise on Florida car insurance law that stirred tremendous excitement throughout Florida’s sprawling community of insurance agents and insurance lawyers. Managing Bubbie is Lazega’s first foray into creative nonfiction. When he is not writing, or chasing after a pair of fire-breathing, house-wrecking T. rexes impersonating small children, the author can be found kayaking the waterways of South Florida, venturing as far as the tide will take him from his loving, but indescribably overbearing, family.

Interview with Russel Lazega:

MT: What is the general theme and tone of “Managing Bubbie”?

Russel Lazega: In one word — “bittersweet” — much like life. Managing Bubbie tracks the incredible true story of my grandmother — a Jewish Holocaust survivor who shepherded her three young children on an incredible trek to freedom through occupied Europe. The story is also leavened with sweet and funny vignettes of her later life as a widow in failing health in 1980’s Miami Beach as her family struggles with the question, “how do you manage an aging, immutably stubborn Holocaust survivor who has risen above the squalor of Poland’s ghettos’ fled across the war-torn German wilderness’ and survived the winter-ravaged Pyrenees alone on foot with three children?” The answer of the story is — you probably don’t. You’ll laugh and cry with this spirited grandmother (“Bubbie” in Yiddish) who’s unconquerable personality got her safely out of Hitler’s grasp and later got her kicked out of 5 nursing homes in a span of 6 months.

MT: Why should people buy your novel?

RL: There have been a lot of Holocaust and war stories out there but Managing Bubbie really does bring something so different. It’s not a story about death camps but of survival — a thrilling cat and mouse chase of an ordinary mother stopping at nothing to stay one step ahead of the Nazis on her family’s tail. It’s about how ordinary people can do extraordinary things and unwittingly become part of history. But this story also shares another side that we so rarely see, what happens years later when that same fearless family leader needs the unthinkable — help surviving?

MT: How would you describe your novel in just two words?

RL: Something different.

MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

RL: Groundhog Day. I love the perspective of seeing a thousand different possibilities to how a day can turn out and the repetition. I also like the repetition. Oops, did I say that?

MT: Was being a novel writer something you’ve always dreamed of doing?

RL: I can’t say that I had always set out to write this book. It’s more like this book found me — or should I say my grandmother found me and said in her unmistakable Yiddish accent, “I vant you’re gonna write this book. Mine stories. Mine life. I vant you should write vhat I did to bring mine children to this country. A million dollars they’ll pay you.” Will still waiting on the million but she was right about the story.

MT: Do you have an all-time favorite novel? Have you read a novel more than once?

RL: Tough one. Oddly enough I’ve written over a dozen books but I’m not much of a reader. I’d probably say anything by Mark Twain. He had a gift for wordplay that’s unrivaled.

MT: What motivates you to write?

RL: Showing up in Delakb County, Georgia — a million miles from home — and hearing someone say “Wow, I really loved your book. It touched me.”

MT: What artist would you love to have dinner with?

RL: Mark Twain or Thomas Jefferson (yes he was also an artist and an architect). That era of people who did it all and did it brilliantly seems to have vanished.

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

RL: Making this story into a movie. Luckily, I got some interest from Hollywood so I have a screenwriter and some development money to try to turn this into a feature film. I’ve also been lucky to land a couple nostalgic Hollywood legends (including Broadway great Linda Lavin) to lend their talented voices to the audiobook. So, fingers crossed . . .

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

RL: Don’t quit — ever. If you know it’s good someone will pick up on it eventually. And if it’s not good well then — what do they know. For me it took close to 20 years (even after having sold millions of dollars worth of other types of books).

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


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