I’ve completed Part I of my third Russian novel, at about 151,500 words. I’m on Chapter 20 now, the first chapter of Part II, and as of this writing am up to a bit under 157,000 words. I think I’m going to have a bit of an easier, quicker time with Part II, since it’s more plot-centric than Part I. Part I was more a series of interconnected story threads, like the love story of Vera and Vsevolod, Nadezhda’s journey to America and reunion with Pavel, Lyuba’s difficult seventh pregnancy, and Naina playing detective to try to solve an old family riddle.
This is where I wish once again that I’d been able to find critique partners, because I really feel like Part I needs another set of eyes on it. I feel like certain scenes and transitions are a bit rough around the edges and not as fluent in their connection or development as was the case in the first two books. I don’t think I’m going to have that much of a problem with the story from this point on, as it’s switched to a more plot-centric track.
While going through my long-memorized plans for the Soviet storylines during the Great Terror, I decided to use some of my favorite former orphanage girls, Alina Petropashvili and Ohanna Zouranjian, who are now all grown up and repatriated to their respective homelands. Now I have a whole other subplot for the many plot threads to make up Part II!
Alina is going to leave Georgia for Armenia, and she and Ohanna, along with Ohanna’s young daughter Siranoush; another former orphanage girl, Izabella Nahigian; and Izabella’s young mother, are going to make their way into Persia. I was so thrilled when I found out that there’s a sizable, historic Georgian community in Iran. I already knew that there’s a very large, historic Armenian presence in Iran, but didn’t know there was a big Georgian contingent as well.
Former orphanage girl Inna Zhirinovskaya, now co-director of the Kyiv orphanage, was originally set to escape into Hungary with the aging Mrs. Brezhneva and the new generation of children. But I decided that going into mainland Europe in 1937 might not be the best idea, so they’re going to go to Persia too.
Growing up, my family was friends with an Iranian family, and we celebrated Nowruz together and stuff, so I have a passing familiarity with Iranian culture. But I’ve never written anything set in Persia/Iran, so this is a really exciting opportunity for me to do some new historic research and really step out of my European/Russian/North American comfort zone. There are so many things I get to cover—the invasion of 1941, the Georgian-Persian community, the Armenian-Persian community, Persian history, the sights of Isfahan (I decided putting them in Tehran would be too expected and not creative enough), Persian culture, etc.
But right now in Chapter 20, Boris finally makes his first appearance of the book. Damn, I was missing him. He’s such a great antagonist to write.