Orphaned in the Post-Soviet Union era, the Lebedev siblings are alone in the underbelly of the most beautiful city in the world, St. Petersburg. Fedya is nearly thirteen and tries his best to keep his family together but fails. He surrenders his two sisters to the orphanage system and joins a ring of thieves. It’s not long before the gang has a run-in with the Russian mafia and Fedya becomes the focal point of a madman’s revenge, and a desperate race ensues for his life across Russia into Latvija. His sister, Elena, is brutally bullied at the orphanage and almost loses her life, while their youngest sister, Irina, is illegally adopted out of the country after a severe bout with whooping cough. Despite their circumstances, the siblings hold on to a quixotic hope to reunite. Whom can they trust? Possibly, no one. SEE REVIEWS
While working through all the “best practices” and advice for a successful book launch, one of the recommendations is to post a countdown. As I think about countdowns, I realize the very act of creating a countdown has layers of emotional significance. (I have to thank my AI intern for some of these ideas.)
Anticipation: Undoubtedly, this is the most indicative of how I am feeling about my new book coming out. As each day draws me closer, I can feel my insides start to murmur. It’s not a full rolling boil yet, but a kind of trembling of the waters. Most people might recognize this feeling of anticipation for a personal event in their lives, like a wedding, the birth of a child, a graduation, or a big vacation. But I can attest, a new book coming out is very much like the wait for a new baby, both in planning and in wondering how it will “come out.” God forbid someone calls my baby ugly.
What a Day for a Daydream
For those who don’t remember, "Daydreamin” is a song by the Lovin’ Spoonful back in 1966. That really dates me, I know, so I might as well confess that I was still in high school. But what is odd to me is how an old tune like this one can suddenly land in my mind and not let go. It’s become a mantra of sorts.
The main verse I sing is this one, but of course, I change the word “boy” to “girl” and my “bundle of joy” is usually an event coming up.
What a day for a daydream
What a day for a daydreamin' boy girl.
And now I'm lost in a daydream
Dreamin' 'bout my bundle of joy.
Here’s a surprise: I’ve started writing the sequel to Children in the City of Czars. That sounds crazy and I agree 100%. But when the story started rolling out of my head, I knew I had to hold on to the Muse as she floated by, or I might lose her.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a good bit about the Muse in Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. Funny, it wasn’t that many weeks ago that I wrote about Gilbert in a different vein, when she delayed the publication of her Russian book which, at the time, felt like it might impact mine. But talking about the reality of a Muse, I’m right with her. ...
While promoting my first novel, Sister Jane, many people asked me if the story was true. Or worse, they’d ask if it was my life story. The answer to both is “No.” Those questions caught me off guard. If the story was true (in a factual way), wouldn’t we have heard about a miracle worker who had a “batting average” of 1000? And if it was my story, would I be out here hawking a book instead of hanging out with sick people? I’m being ultra-catty, I know, but honestly.
Who are the Orphans?
I am an orphan. But then, most people my age are. It’s the natural flow of life, children outlive their parents, and the baton is passed.
My father died when I was nine and apparently, in that moment, I became a “single orphan.” I didn’t know I had a label, but I certainly knew what it was like to be raised by a single mother. In some ways, it was for the best. My father was twenty-five years older than my mother, and I believe the speed of change for a non-English speaking older gentleman would have become more challenging than bearable. It was hard enough for mother to keep up, but she did keep up until 2004, dying at ninety-one.