Every week or so, someone asks me, “When is your next book coming out?”
By this they mean, “We’re still waiting for the sequel to Favoured among Women. When are you going to get busy and finish it?
Until recently, I was puzzled each time, because the second book of this two-volume story was announced by my publisher, CMUPress, and launched at McNally Robinson Books in 2015.
When I finally checked the listings of my book in the public library and bookstores, I found that their listings hid the link between the two books, or hid it as though it was part of the same book. No wonder readers of my first book were confused!
Here, now, are some correct and corrected links with my apologies for not detecting this earlier:
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My childhood home was a Saskatchewan farm, where I loved telling stories to my younger siblings and wrote stories and poems, dreaming of becoming a writer, though I assumed I would become a teacher – and did for a few years. At the same time, I continued writing shorter pieces in a variety of genres, before tackling the above full-length novels. My adult life included years spent in Dallas, Ann Arbor in Michigan, Toronto, London in England, and ultimately Winnipeg, following my husband around as he worked on his doctorate.
I stayed home with my three children until they were in school, then began tucking university courses into my life wherever I lived, finally emerging with an honours English B.A. from the University of Manitoba and then a Masters degree leading to clinical membership with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), completed in Indiana. In 1989, fully settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I began a counselling service under the name, Kairos Counselling.
When I retired from my therapy practice (which I loved and still miss) I finally had the time to complete the two biographical novels, cited above. That was an intense journey in itself, begun long before, in 1983, involving an actual trip to places linked to these novels – Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Siberia, and Uzbekistan, but mainly an internal trip via interviews with my protagonist, 80-year-old Greta.
Greta’s story began in Ukraine and ended in exile. Fleeing many times to save herself and her children from starvation and persecution, she endured the hardships of women in the Soviet Union under Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, until finally, as an aging refugee and matriarch of a large family, she found a saner life in a free country where she felt safe enough to share her story.
Many stories have been written by and about immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, but the stories of those who remained behind when the ‘Iron Curtain’ closed down all correspondence are only beginning to emerge. To and From Nowhere, the second volume of this two-part series, is one of those stories.