Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly Sunday hop where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from the opening of my first Russian historical, You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan (available for pre-order here).
Finally, a bit over two pages in, we really meet Lyuba, Ivan’s best friend and now-ex-girlfriend. We also meet the third of the three girls who just moved from Estonia, Katariina Nikonova (Katrin). I always have so much fun writing Katrin, and particularly enjoyed turning her from girl to woman in the first book, someone who really lives her political beliefs and gives up childish things.
The Estonian accent really is just as I’ve described it, though many Russians mock it for its sing-songishness. It’s a beautiful language, with a beautiful accent. Starting in 1869, the Estonians sang for their freedom from Russia, and still love singing today, so it’s no surprise there’s such a musical lilt in their accent.
Lyuba boards the tram near the end of the line, and loudly curses when she sees all the seats are taken. Having little choice, she grabs the rail and finds herself standing next to the third Estonian girl. The first thing she notices about the girl is her short blonde hair. Her short hairstyle isn’t even feminine like the American dancer Irene Castle or the French actress Polaire, but cropped as short as a man’s, with nary a hair accessory like hair clips or a bandeau. It looks so modern next to Lyuba’s mane of hair flowing past her knees.
“I’m Lyubóv Leontiyevna Zhúkova. What’s your name?”
She looks up at Lyuba with piercing green eyes, and begins speaking with the most beautiful accent Lyuba has ever heard, a soft, singsongy lilt which blends sadness, poetry, and music.