July 21, 2013
It’s been much too long since I posted in this space but the spring and early summer swept by as I ventured out to local book clubs and events where Crossing The Border was the topic of discussion. Much like my experience of living in Ukraine, listening as avid readers discussed my fictional characters was wonderful and a bit surreal at the same time. When I’m writing I’m so focused on the world I’m creating that for a while everything else fades into the background. Once the writing is done and the work has been revised a multitude of ways, it’s time to share it with the rest of the world. Getting stories and poems published in literary journals is one of the greatest thrills for any writer but you usually don’t get personal feedback from your readers.
So it was really eye-opening to take in others’ perspectives about Vera, Valeriy, Luba, Lina, Petro and the other characters inhabiting Crossing The Border. At times, there was lively engagement about why certain characters acted in the way they did or why the stories ended on a particular moment. One reader was worried about the elderly woman who braved the streets during the Orange Revolution to buy a cage for the lost parakeet that flew onto her balcony. Others described their favorite moments or the stories they connected with most. Some wondered if the stories were based on true experiences.
As I explained, the inspiration for my stories came from various sources. Some were inspired by images that I couldn’t shake such as The Bell Tower where I kept visualizing an elderly man climbing up an old set of stairs. I had no idea at the time where that image came from or even what country the story would be set in. It was a fun process figuring it out. Orange in Bloom was inspired both by a wayward parakeet that I rescued while living in Ukraine and by a news article I read about elderly women who cooked food for the thousands of protesters camped out in downtown Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. There’s always a part of me embedded in each of the stories but fiction takes over as my characters come to life. That’s the exciting part of writing – not knowing what comes next.
These real-life stories behind the writing of the book were recorded in a brief clip/montage that Megan Ammer filmed and edited during my book presentation at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago:
Many thanks to the UIMA for this wonderful opportunity and to the four book clubs in Detroit and Chicago who hosted me and/or selected Crossing The Border for their book pick of the month. I am so very humbled and happy by all the support and encouragement I have received from my readers and I am looking forward to meeting more of you at future events.