At Long Last, The Sower of Black Field is Published

I’ve spent twenty long years writing and researching the narrative behind Fr. Viktor’s story. Today I have a new fact to record for posterity. At last, The Sower of Black Field is finally published.

For those who have been eagerly waiting for a chance to read this story…

These are just a few of the services and platforms where you can get the book, eBook, and audiobook. We’ve seen it pop up in online bookstores all the way from the USA to Taiwan and Australia!

I’m grateful to TravSonic Studios and especially Joanna Teljeur, the incomparable voice talent behind the audiobook. A native of Pennsylvania like me, she contended with the difficulties of foreign names and terms, and read the lines of German characters in appropriate accents so listeners could audibly distinguish between the very American Fr. Viktor Koch and the Germans in his midst.

My publisher, Mindstir Media, helped me produce a trailer to promote the book. You can watch it below:

Creating this was quite a feat, and if you’ve read some of the articles on this website, it won’t surprise you to know that we used generative AI to create materials for this trailer—especially the voiceover. Believe it or not, yours truly performed the monologue for Fr. Viktor, and we used AI to convert my voice into that of an older male. I’ll share that in a future AI party post.

Some acknowledgements are in order: My thanks to my brother and fellow writer Sean Koch, who co-authored the screenplay for this trailer; to Tobias Reitmeier at Schwarzenfeld’s Office of Tourism for kindly providing the flyover footage of the Miesbergkirche and Kloster; to Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., for permission to use his photo of the Passionist symbol; and especially to Audiomachine for that amazing track, Wars of Faith. The music selection really makes that video special!

But most of all, I want to acknowledge the one person who made all of this possible—American WWII veteran Ed Pancoast. Twenty years ago, I had never heard of Fr. Viktor, or Schwarzenfeld, or even the Passionists. We learned this story because a complete stranger (Ed) visited longtime friends in Schwarzenfeld back in 1997 and learned the narrative from them. Fr. Viktor’s story entranced Ed so much that he returned to the States, conducted some of the initial research at NARA in Washington, D.C., and began a feverish search for our family. It was his fondest wish that Fr. Viktor’s story be memorialized in a novel and a movie. (Though, in my view, a limited series is more realistic, because there’s too much material for the average 90-minute film, and if you whittle it down to the bare bones of the 48-hour ultimatum, you lose context that is vital to making this work.) Inspired by the film Saving Private Ryan, he composed letters to Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks (Ed’s choice for the actor to play Fr. Viktor) and was crestfallen when they went unanswered.

By 2003, it was clear that he lacked the energy to commit himself to a monumental research project. He packed all of his files into an envelope, addressed it to the genealogical society in Sharon, Pennsylvania—Fr. Viktor’s hometown—and mailed it off in hopes of the city acknowledging its native son. Sharon historians contacted reporters at the Sharon Herald, who published an article. Fifty-eight years after Fr. Viktor saved Schwarzenfeld, a new generation of Koch relatives opened the newspaper and learned this story for the first time. Ed was elated when my father Gary and I reached out to him. Thus, the torch of his dreams passed down to me.

My family and I traveled to Ed’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland in 2006, and we had a chance to meet him and his wife Eunice. It was a memorable visit!

Gary Koch, Katherine Koch, Eunice Pancoast, and Ed Pancoast in 2006.

From left to right: Gary Koch, author Katherine Koch, Eunice Pancoast, and Ed Pancoast in 2006.

Ed passed away in March 2009, secure in his faith that we’d eventually fulfill his dream of telling Fr. Viktor’s story.

Well, Ed, we finally have the novel. I’m sure you’re up there, pushing for a movie. You have your favorite actors, and I have a few as well, particularly on the German side. I’ve been watching German films with this in mind. The rest is up to the Framework now. And maybe you, too.