About my Russian novels

Sometime when I was a child, maybe a preteen, I started a little picture book about a 17-year-old ballerina and balalaika-player named Amy, and her 10-year-old (male) cousin Ginny, who lived in Russia in 1917. Ginny hated being poor so much, he rushed out the door every time someone mentioned it.

Sometime later, I was pulled back to that juvenile concept and started what would become the pride of my writing life, my superlong Russian historical novel. I started becoming a Russophile in December ’92, and I began writing it on 31 January 1993, on the first computer my family had, our cute little ’84 Mac. It had the default typeface Helvetica (which I can’t stand), and after that darling little computer short-circuited and I was forced to start borrowing my parents’ room for writing on their new ’93 Mac, I started typing in Palatino.

I didn’t get back to work on the Russian novel (at least not on the computer; I wrote supplemental stories in a notebook in between) till September of ’96. Then probably sometime in ’99, I began my third major phase of working on it.

Along the way, I got a whole plot in my head for a sequel, and while finally finishing the first book, I got plans for a third book and a prequel, along with plans for as-yet-unplotted additional books ending in 1991, the year the Soviet Union ended.

I just can’t write a standalone, it seems. I get too involved with the characters and their stories, and feel compelled to keep writing the stories of their lives instead of moving onto all-new characters. At least that means I know my select sets of characters extremely well after so many years together, and don’t have to struggle with making all-new people each time.

These are the books so far, both written and planned:

You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan (1917–24)

The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks (1924–30)

Journey Through a Dark Forest: Lyuba and Ivan in the Age of Anxiety (1933–48)

A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University (1948–52)

From a Nightmare to a Dream: Out of Stalin’s Shadow (1953–6)

Seagulls Gathered on the Wind (1957–64)

The Gammerova Girls and How They Grew (1889–97)

A Gathering of Black Swans (1897–1917)

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