• M. K. Stelmack

Russian yet...me.

Dobro pozhalovat! Welcome!

What do you think of the painting? Its hot-summer, smudgy, peaceful ripeness reminds me of Nyaboskoye Palace, my fictional Russian country estate in the novel I'm writing. The next image with its imposing, magisterial, fortress largeness also reminds me of my fictional Palace. Both pictures point to the paradoxical nature of the Russian soul.

As you might’ve guessed, Russia fascinates me. I first fell under the thrall of the Motherland after meeting my husband’s family who were few in number but all highly memorable. Through my reading of histories like Natasha’s Dance and Life on the Russian Country Estate and just lately, a contemporary personal narrative, Up from Serfdom, I discovered that my in-laws were quintessential Russians: one thing or the other and nothing between.

Boris Starling in his thriller, Vodka, has his heroine sum it up: “…what are Russians if not human beings writ large? There’s duality in everyone, it’s the most universal of human characteristics, and though this isn’t unique to the Russians, they take it to greater extremes than other peoples.”

What better material for my dark yet lighthearted, tortured yet community-minded, fatalistic yet eternally optimistic, ruthless yet hospitable characters? And the setting! Russia has everything from magnificent palaces to dark forests, all the better for my adventurous heroes.

My blogs will offer up three categories of reading. One, findings from my research of Russia, particularly in the early nineteenth century. Samovars, country estates, relations between the serf and her owner, vodka, rivers, Tsar Alexander I, academies and tunics--this and more. Second, every now and then, I will publish reviews of books to do with Russia---novels, nonfiction, contemporary or historical. Third, and most dangerously for me who prefers to keep her adventures contained within her imagination, I also aim to publish every Friday unedited (!?) excerpts of my work-in-progress, To Serve with Love. I’ve been told that it’s beautiful and lyrical, which is the kiss of death, I suppose, for a good ol’ romance. I prefer beautiful yet rambunctious, mysterious yet playful, grandiose yet blunt.

In other words, Russian yet...me.

Care to comment? Connect with other Russophiles?

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