I’ve always been interested in and proud of my Polish heritage. When I got my first car when I was seventeen, I put a Polish coat of arms sticker on the back windshield.  A stylized eagle hovering over the ramparts of a castle.  I loved it.

Jump forward a few decades. In one of the very first stories I wrote for this book, long before I even knew it was going to become part of an actual book, the main character’s name was Catherine Bedford. Her name came to me out of nowhere, and I knew, as soon as it popped into my mind, that this was her name. There would be no changing it.

When I realized her Polish parents needed a Polish name from which Bedford might have derived, Bedczynski popped into my head. It wasn’t a name I’d ever heard in my life, but again, I knew, as soon as I thought of it, that this was the family’s name.

Of course I promptly did a search for the surname Bedczynski.   Now, remember, this name was totally invented. It’s MY name, in a way. I made it up out of thin air. So I wasn’t surprised when my search turned up no hits. In a way, I was relieved, and I gave it no further thought.

But last summer as I was working on another story, I needed a name of a town for another character to be from, and it was in this search, on a page of maps of Poland in 1907, that I unexpectedly found a listing for Będziński .

I invented the dang name and spelled it wrong? What?

So I clicked on it . . . and found that it’s a region (not a name, per se)—and the page that came up showed not a map, but a coat of arms for that region. My heart stopped when I saw it.

The coat of arms is the same one I had on the Poland sticker on my first car. I put that sticker on the car in about 1976. I remember it vividly. And now I find out it’s the freaking coat of arms for Będziński.  Creeeeepy!!!


But wait—it gets even trippier.

The coat of arms page contained a list of towns that have coats of arms, with live links for each.  One of them was a place called Bobrowniki.

Really? Really?? Bobrowski was my grandmother’s maiden name.

Of course I clicked on it. And guess what? Bobrowniki is a township in Będziński .

Goosebumps. It still gives me goosebumps.

I’m telling you–this book was meant to be.


Coat of arms image by Bastianow (vector version) [Public domain or <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5″>CC-BY-SA-2.5</a>%5D, <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APOL_powiat_b%C4%99dzi%C5%84ski_COA.svg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>