In Desert and Wilderness Acknowledgements and Insperation

I knew that translating my favorite novel, Henryk Sienkiewicz’s adventure, In Desert and Wilderness, was a project that I had in the pipeline for a while now. It was originally published in Polish 110 years ago; the other translations into English were done shortly thereafter. They make the text seem more dated than it actually is.

I wrote more about the process and challenges that I faced in translating it in the back of my translation of the book for those interested. However, here, I’d like to talk about how it became my favorite novel as well as the work that ultimately inspired me to put pen to paper.


My first thank you has to go to Pani Kamila, my first Polish teacher. There was no way she knew what she started when she gave a copy of In Desert and Wilderness to an over-stressed third year high school student – who, thanks to that, is now a PhD and novelist with 20 books in print.

Back then, I had just started learning Polish; despite whatever translation I had, I fell in love with the story. It was like a parody of Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones were a fourteen-year-old Polish kid. It was over the top in an awesome way, I’d like to think, kind of like the stuff I write.

The story stuck with me; I finally read it in the original when I was studying for my Master’s degree at Uniwersytet Wrocławski in Poland. It was still my favorite novel. I picked up a hardcover copy of it at a flea market in Katowice, while traveling between Wrocław and Vienna.

My well thumbed copy pictured left.

A few more years later, while I was a PhD candidate in England, I found out that my family was going to travel to Egypt, where much of the novel takes place. In Desert and Wilderness was the first thing I thought of. I discovered that someone had written a sequel to it, which called attention to the fact that Staś, the main hero, grew up in Africa and had never even been to Europe, let alone Poland.

As I was doing a dissertation on European identity formation at the time, I started to write a fantasy story, which explores how much of an ‘upstanding Pole’ Staś really is. That turned into an entire trilogy, Keepers of the Stone, and then the sequel to that, Voyages of Fortune.

During this time, I needed to refer back to the original text. I found something — I don’t remember what — confusing, and wanted to know how others had referenced it in English. I found a translation on line.

I as absolutely shocked at what I saw and couldn’t believe that I’d fallen in love with the book in the first place. The translation was bad in such a way that it magnified certain outmoded attitudes which were common at the time the original book was written, rather that minimize them so that the story could shine through. The dialogue, which is, at times, quite funny in Polish, came across as stiff and stilted. I thought: “Why did I bother looking this up? I could do a better translation than this.”

Still, the book is in some respects a product of it’s time. Part of the reason I started to write my own continuation, was to have the characters from In Desert and Wilderness confront these attitudes as they go to Europe for the first time. I had many more of my own ideas for stories after that. The translation would have to wait.

As I was finishing up The Russia Chronicles — a darker thriller series about Russian street kids, in which the main protagonists would traditionally be considered societal problems — I decided that I needed a break from that gritty world. It was time to get back to my roots.

I sat down with my trusty copy of the book and got to translating. After the close reading that this required, I found that the book was subtly anti-colonial in many ways that I had previously realized. It felt like I was working with Sienkiewicz in a way, updating the story how it would be told today.

My thanks also go out to my mom, who is normally my first-line beta reader, but in this case sat down with me on Skype and went through the entire 450 page manuscript line-by-line with me, editing it, with me being able to refer back to the original text as needed, before it was sent to the editor.

At least I can say now that I have my own translation of the book that got me to put pen to paper, now ready to be enjoyed and re-discovered by a whole new generation of English-speaking audiences.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving, too. I’m currently working on another continuation of the story, which follows the fortunes of Kali and Mea, Staś’s African friends, after they return to rule Kali’s tribe. After that, I’m planning to do a completely modern re-telling of the story set in Pakistan  and Afghanistan during 2020 and 2021.

Pani Kamila, wherever you are, you created a monster. Serdecznie Dziękuję!

In Desert and Wilderness is available here.

A New Edition of In Desert and Wilderness Launches.

If you’ve read my debut series, Keepers of the Stone, you probably noticed that the characters of Stas and Nell have rather involved backstories. There’s a reason for it. They were inspired by my favorite novel, Noble Prize winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz’s In Desert and Wilderness. It was originally published in Polish 110 years ago.

The translations that were done of it shortly after it’s publication are quite dated; this always presented me with a bit of a problem… until now. I have solved it by translating In Desert and Wilderness from the original Polish into modern English, for those who want to know more about Stas and Nell’s origins in Keepers of the Stone. I have to say it was a fun experience translating this timeless YA adventure.

It launches today at the special promotional price of $0.99. Grab your copy today.

The Cover and synopsis are below:


Egypt, 1884: Fourteen-year-old Staś Tarkowski grew up along the banks of the Suez Canal, convinced that he was more than ready to take on anything that life might throw at him. His cocky self-assurance is put to the test when he and his young friend, Nell, are kidnapped for ransom by fanatical members of an Islamist rebellion.

Now held hostage and destined for a meeting with the uprising’s infamously cruel leader, Staś and Nell are faced with a perilous journey through the Sahara Desert. Staś will have to muster all of his ingenuity and inner strength if he is to free himself and Nell, while suffering at the hands of their heartless captors.

As they are taken farther south than anyone expected, their situation appears hopeless. Even if they can escape their kidnappers, it would only mean death from disease, hungry predators and other dangers in Africa’s unexplored wilderness. Armed with only his trusty rifle and their unyielding determination, Staś and Nell find allies among the indigenous people, adventurers and even animals they meet along the way. But it may not be enough for them to escape, survive and find their way home. The impossible, life-changing journey will take them and their new friends, Kali and Mea, across half of Africa — before the final challenge that may prove too much for them to overcome.

Don’t miss this thrilling, adventure-filled journey of danger, self-discovery and friendship, first penned in 1910 by Polish Nobel Prize-winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz. Now translated into contemporary English for modern audiences by Andrew Anžur Clement, PhD and author of the Keepers of the Stone trilogy, this timeless tale shows how much we can accomplish by never giving up hope, never losing sight of who we are and never surrendering what we hold most dear.


In Desert and Wilderness is available Here!

You can also get book one in Keepers of the Stone for free Here!

Maps for Tito’s Lost Children!

I’ve been asked multiple times why I didn’t include maps showing where the characters go in my alternative history series Tito’s Lost Children. The simple answer is that I was afraid that they would look like a mess of spaghetti. I made them today on a whim. They kind of do; I don’t know how helpful they are, but it was a fun exercise! I hope you find them interesting. They go book by book below:

By the way: The ebook boxed set of all three main books in Tito’s Lost Children is $0.99 — down from $7.99 — through September 16th 2021.


Legend: I used blue pins and black lines for the locations where major events in the novels occurred to the main protagonists and black lines to connect them. I used red pins and lines for Predrag’s location when it was substantially different from the rest of the characters (including the ‘hunting trip’ he takes with one of the other characters in book three). Zlatko’s location isn’t included.

All lines are ‘as the crow flies’ and don’t reflect the actual route they might have taken.

War One: Slovenia

War Two: Croatia

War Three: Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Russia Chronicles Alternate Ending

The final book in The Russia Chronicles, Four: The Secret of Lenin’s Tomb, is officially with the editor. Now seemed like a good time to bring out what became an alternate ending for the series. I dashed it off shortly after I finished writing book two and ended up deciding to cut it. It wraps up a small detail but seemed to come out of left field after four books.

The passage does, nonetheless, provide an answer as to what happened to Pyotr and Tanya’s child.

As I mentioned above, I wrote this after finishing book two, so some of the details related to the characters and the story are different from what they ended up being in books three and four, which I wrote after. But the passage does close the loop for any who were wondering what happened to Tanya’s baby, which was unborn at the end of book one. Think of it as an alternate version of alternative history.

(Note: While I did have someone look this over, it hasn’t been completely edited, like the actual books. So, you might also get a taste of what has been called my “fast and loose relationship with the spelling and grammar of the English language” as a really special bonus!)

I hope you enjoy.


Afterward

Snezhana

October, 2029

“What are these cadets like?” I ask my aide, about a week after settling into my new post.

“Good. Disciplined, ma’am.” He reminds me that the cadets chose to come to the military high school. That much is true, but it’s a rhetorical question. There’s no conscription anymore. If you want to be an officer, you have got to earn it. I’m still settling into my new role as commandant.

I put my hands behind my back. The cadets come out of the front entrance of the Military Academy of the General Staff in Moscow. I have my eye on one in particular. She’s a first-year, I muse. Newly enrolled. Fresh meat.

“Call her over, please,” I order my aide.

She steps into my office, eyes down. She takes the cap off of her head. She has a combover with bangs under the Pilotka.

“You asked to see me, Madam Commandant?” she asks in an uncertain voice.

“Yes.” I motion for her to sit. “Why are you here, Cadet Taganova?”

“Ma’am, you ordered me and…”

“No, why are you here? Why did you enroll?”

“You, the Russian Armed Forces, admitted me, Ma’am.”

“No, why? I want to know why you applied.”

“Um, I, um… ma’am um…Are you going to, um…What did I, um…?” She thinks I’m going to cashier her. If she is who I think she is, after all she’s gone through to get here, I can’t blame her.

I don’t deny it. I don’t confirm it either. My gut tells me I’ve found the one we’re looking for.

“My nephew used to have a friend,” I say after a moment. “One who did that, I mean, ‘ummed’ a lot, when he first met her.” I look out the window, away from her. If she’s going to be in the military, she is going to have to grow a metaphorical pair. I am starting to feel a bit of excitement, maybe apprehension. I have to keep a jawline of steel.

“I didn’t know that, Ma’am.”

“Did you know I’m from Belarus? That my cousin and I share a last name? Borysuk?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m aware Ma’am. You are the Defense Minister’s cousin.”

We didn’t get along for the longest time, you know.” I look at her reflection in the window. “Why are you here, cadet?”

“To serve the Russian Federation, Madam Commandant.”

I keep looking out the window. “No, cadet, why?”

“Ma’am…”

I turn from the window, my arms still firmly behind my back. She’s small. Even her cadet’s uniform, the smallest issue, is oversized. My cousin would say that she had her mother’s hair and cheekbones. So would her father.

“Do you remember your mother, cadet?”

“No. I’m an orphan. I was delivered by c-section. That’s what I’m told, but I’m not even sure of that. She wasn’t alive anymore, Ma’am. That is what I was told.”

“No need to call me Ma’am.” I sit down across the table from her. She really does have her mother’s hair, crushed again under her cap. This time it’s a military cadet’s cap, not her mother’s old ratty baseball one. That is, if she is who I think she is; by now, I’m practically sure.

“I have a friend who is looking for someone. He’s not sure if she exists, or is still alive. I think she is. I think she’s you.”

Her eyes get wide. I’m not ashamed about freaking her out. I have to be absolutely sure what her deal is.

“Do you recognize the names Greenfield, Dreamland? Komsomolskaya?”

“The last one is a metro stop. The others, no.”

“Do you remember your father?”

“I never had a father.”

“Where were you born?”

“Somewhere in Chechnya. Then I was in the orphanages. I taught myself to read. I got here…Are you going to…”

I interrupt her. “Angelika. That name has no meaning for you, doesn’t it?”

She looks around the room.

“Whatever you think is going on here, this isn’t a test. Look me in the eye and say no if it’s true.”

“No, that name doesn’t have any meaning for me.”

“It’s what your father and mother would have named you, Cadet Daryanka Andreyevskaya Taganova. Your mother was still alive, after you were born. I saw her die when you would have been about six.” She appears visibly taken aback that I, the commandant of the military academy, know her full name and background without having to look it up.

“Your father is still very much alive. He is looking for you, cadet. He has been for years. But first, there is a story you need to know. The story of your family.” I drop the other shoe.  “One I should think you would especially like to know, considering that your father’s last name is Bolshoiov.”

“Bolshoiov? You mean…” Her eyes get wide as saucer cups.

I reach over the table in my office and take her hand. “Yes, Daryanka. You are the president’s lost daughter. The president, the tsarina and their family are looking forward to meeting you. He still thinks of you as Angelika; first you need to know how all of this came about.”

She sits and stares in shock and awe. I give her the first edition of the Chronicles, starting with her father’s descent into Moscow, back when he was still an American kid, who I had yet to meet.

I leave her to it. I go about my day. She keeps reading. When I notice she’s about done, I put the call through to President Bolshoiov. His lost daughter has been found. It is time that she met him.

***

Cadet Taganova finishes reading just as I hear their motorcade pulling into the drill yard. She looks up at me, eyes wide, wanting to scream and deny that it’s true. That it can’t be. And yet, it is.

“Taganova was my mother’s last name,” she whispers, puzzling it out. “Angelika didn’t disappear. I am her, the president’s daughter. Tanya, she was my mom…she, she died so they could live, so that I could.”

I nod. “Yes, Cadet, so that Russia could live, so that those she considered family could and maybe one day find you. Now they are here.”

A man in a thin-cut suit, his temples starting to go gray, and a woman in an understated outfit with light brown hair, petite and thin, enter my office. They are trailed by the foreign minister and a young woman of about twenty, Pyotr and Katya’s daughter. Behind them are a few more ministers, including my cousin. Daryanka sits there like a deer in the headlights. “If it’s okay with you, cadet, they would like to say hello,” I prompt her.

Pyotr – President Bolshoiov — looks nervous. Katya — sorry, Tsarina Ekaterina — tries to conceal that same look that she always used to have when she was a teen who could really use a drink or a ‘little something’ stronger.

Cadet Taganova keeps staring at them. Then come the silent, disbelieving tears and her whispered voice. “I… have a family? I never thought I’d have a family.”

Pyotr starts to tear up. “Yes, if you want to be part of our club we’d be only too happy to have you as a member. I’m glad we finally we found you, Daryanka, my daughter.”

Daryanka gets up and rushes forward, crying as she laughs. The bodyguards start forward. Katya waves them off. In a moment they’re all, hugging, crying. I, the new commandant, am trying not to tear up. But at some point, on the inside, I’m that teenager on the Arbat, despite all the years between then and now. I look on, unable to help, but marveling at the Gods’ plan for our future. How it all has come down to this. How, after all the mistreatment, the oppression, the scheming, revolution, and power games that would change the course of history, how this is all that matters. Not the titles, the positions, the power, or the larger-than- life events. Just us. Our family. Brought together by fate, crying and smiling in joy as I give in to join them. Finally, together again. Made whole in each other’s arms.


If you’d like to find out more about Pyotr, Katya and the circumstances leading up to Daryanka’s birth, Book One in The Russia Chronicles is available here.

The Russia Chronicles Book Three is Out!

Book Three in my alternative history thriller series officially launches today at the special sale price of $0.99 It’s called:

The Kremlin Coup

In the third main installment of The Russia Chronicles, discredited American TV reporter Molly Greenfield arrives in Moscow determined to find her brother, Peter. But now with a price on his head and in hiding Peter doesn’t want to be found. Under watch by both the CIA and the Russian security forces, Molly must form an uneasy alliance with Syerozha, a wanted former street rat, now attending Moscow State University under a false identity, if she is to have any hope of locating Peter. Their quest will lead them from the darkest corners of Chechnya, straight to the halls of power in the Kremlin itself.

Grab it now for $0.99 before the price goes up to $4.99 on Aug. 15th!

Book One in the Russia Chronicles will be free until that time and Book Two will be $0.99 as well.

Researching The Russia Chronicles & Acknowledgements

The Russia Chronicles is an alternative history thriller series set during the early 21st century. As such, it might not be considered alternative history as such, but rather more of an alternate version of current events.

Like some of my previous works, the novels take place amid real events. However, in The Russia Chronicles, these events take place in the background. The struggles of the main characters take front and center. Therefore, it never made sense to post here about the historical events that are a part of this series, as I have written about in the past with some previous works. However, as I prepare to finish writing the final book in The Russia Chronicles, it does make sense to write about some of the inspirations, processes and acknowledgements that went into these novels.

Fun fact: The silhouette on the cover of book one is actually an image of the author.

Point Zero: on the randomness of inspiration:

The Russia Chronicles is meant to be a bit over the top. It is loosely based off of real circumstances, places, certain people, events, and conspiracy theories. However, it is fiction. The main characters are a gang of Russian homeless children who [spoiler alert] end up taking over the Kremlin by the end of the series. They cuss, they drink, some are related to royalty, they do drugs, they have some kick-ass and sometimes just plain stranger-than-fiction, random adventures.

During the process of writing these novels, the questions that I was most often asked, when I told people that I was writing about Russian street kids were: “Why?” and “Do you you have any experience with that?” Another question that I found myself having to field quite often was “Where do you get your story ideas?”

I will be candid. The short answer to these questions is “‘It just sort of happened,’ ‘No, I don’t,’ and ‘It just sort of occurred to me; that doesn’t happen with you?’ respectively. This in itself is nothing special. Many writers are indeed not able to travel to the places and time periods that they are writing about. The longer answer, especially relating to where I get my ideas is a bit different, but, I’m afraid, has an equally mundane beginning.

The genesis of what turned into The Russia Chronicles came about one morning while I was lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, while not being quite awake.

The day before I had read an article. I don’t remember what it was about. I do remember that it made some tangential comment about Muscovites not liking roving the packs of homeless children who are in Moscow because they start campfires to keep warm; those fires can turn into actual hazards.

That morning I had the inspiration to tell a story about an American teenager who ends up stranded in Moscow, is taken in by one of these packs, and ends up falling in love. In the original version of the story, he and his love interest ended up getting evacuated to America, before she decides to return to Moscow’s streets, as she is unable to adjust to suburban American life.

Other than that I was completely unaware that there are thousands of homeless children on the streets of Moscow, and many other Russian/Eastern European cities. Some of which, as we will get to in a bit, I have been to and even lived in. That proved a shocker when I found out after I started doing research for the novels.

I didn’t think that my process would be much different from past series when I started work on The Russia Chronicles. In some of my previous works, my PhD days in Brussels as well as my travel and life in and around the Balkans proved indispensable. I figured that my methodology which involved traveling or returning to the places that I was setting my books in, to do location research, would be a part of the mix.

The author defends his dissertation in Brussels.

In March 2020, upon coming back to Slovenia from a brief visit to the US, I began research for the books. One of the first things that I was planning to do upon return to Slovenia was make preparations for travel to Russia. This proved impossible and required me to change my modus operandi. Again, it was March 2020. At the time I was unaware that I was on one of the last commercial flights into Ljubljana airport, before the government locked the country down due to certain health concerns.

Russia wasn’t in the cards. So I looked for inspiration at home. In the books, the Brezhov’s apartment and basement is based off of my own; I based the squat that the Chechen kids are in off of an abandoned construction site in Ljubljana (It is actually the same construction site my family was complaining about on House Hunters International!).

1. The limitations of writing during lockdown, or not.

All works are a product of the time in which they are produced. This was no exception. Shortly after beginning research, I quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way I could easily benefit from direct interaction with the object of research.

In all seriousness, the people that have done research on, or made documentaries about these kids have dedicated years or even decades of their lives to doing so. They have my sincere salute. As a researcher, appeared that I would have to use my PhD days in a different way. They had already created a body of literature; I had to review it.

There’s a saying in academia: ‘if you think you’ve thought of something new, look it up. Someone else is guaranteed to have thought of it before you have.’ The Russia Chronicles turned out to be no exception. I fell back on my training. Going to the literature became an even bigger part of my process. I watched documentaries, read articles, books about the Russian opposition to the Putin regime. I world-built almost all of my characters’ zeitgeist from these. Some of the characters and even plot points are based on the protagonists encountered in these source materials. I do not claim that what I have written is a one-hundred percent accurate depiction. However, I am convinced that going back to Russia might not have helped in this regard. Many of the locations depicted are fictional or classified. Insofar as the rest, I let the work of people who have already done the empirical heavy lifting drive what is merely a humble dramatization meant to tell an adventure story on my part.

2. Having briefly been a teenager in Moscow.

There have been many documentaries made about street children in Eastern Europe. Two stick out in my mind: The Children of Leningradski and Children Underground (about street kids in Bucharest, Romania). This note has nothing to do with the fact that they were both nominated for Academy Awards, but rather that they were both filmed in locations that I was already somewhat familiar with.

I found the latter of the two to be particularly moving, especially as I had used the subway stop in question to commute to work every day while I was living in Romania. In either Russia or Bucharest, I’d never noticed anything like what was depicted in these films, or at least had not considered it for what it was.

It seems like another lifetime, but I also briefly was a teenager in Moscow during the 2000’s on summer vacation with my parents. I used that in the books as a point of departure. In The Russia Chronicles, Peter’s first day in Moscow is basically the same as mine — up until his parents turn out to by spies and he ends up with a very specific gang of street kids, all of whom he has met without even realizing it, at first. The places that I remember from my own trip keep popping up. Beyond that, the literature takes over, at least partially, along with some of my other life experiences.

3. My own memories as a treasure trove.

All authors of fiction do this. We not only learn from fiction but also from our own lives. Aside from my family’s trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, I mined my other experiences as well. The water fight and swearing class depicted on the Trans-Siberian Express happened, albeit in Beijing High School No.4 when I was still sixteen on a youth exchange. I never took the Trans-Siberian express, but the literature provides there, too. I did take the train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We once were those obnoxious American tourists.

The depictions of journalists and cameramen who figure in books three and four are taken from my years growing up in the States with a TV anchor/investigative reporter mom and from teaching journalism in Maldives, among other countries. Her friend gave me great advice about how international correspondents had to feed their reports to satellites in the days before the internet and how this might have worked in an aging nuclear command bunker.

The Lake, the Slavic pagan commune that my main characters retreat to for a time, was inspired by a Slovenian friend’s real life one. I based the Slavic pantheon that they believe in partially off of his scholarly writings on the subject. The murder part is completely fictional.

My mom claims that using pig-Latin really did keep regime minders off their backs, when she was a correspondent in communist Poland during marshal law. I also have to thank her once again for being my first line beta reader and editor for this series, even though she hates stories about children freezing to death in the snow. She has a character that makes a cameo in book two, and loves to remind me how I have mined my own travels to such a great extent that I should start planning new ones in the near future.

Finally, even Pooty the Silky Terrier, mentioned in book one, really did exist (pictured left).


These books are a hodgepodge of research and my own experience. To write them, I mined both the literature and my own past. Maybe there would have been a better ‘sense of place’ had I been able to go back to Moscow. Who knows? After the alternative history ending that the books take I’ve been teased that I might never be able to go now.

In the end, The Russia Chronicles is a tale of hope, where these kids of the underground, whom I was not even aware of when I started this project, can become the young leaders of a new Russia. It’s a story about disenfranchised people who are one way when the world around them is both askew and convinced of its own righteousness. It is for those who refuse to cave into the foisted belief that they are the ones with the problem.

My biggest thanks goes to them and all those like them. For whatever they might think it may be worth.

1st Time Sale on Europe’s Lost Children

All of the books in the ‘Europe’s Lost Children’ alternative history series are on sale for the first time, through July 18th!

The sequel to ‘Tito’s Lost Children,’ the four book series follows the adventures of an eclectic group twenty-somethings from the Balkans in the 2010s as they must struggle against a plot made between nationalist forces and religious extremists to tear Europe apart and prevent the rest of the Balkans from getting into the Union.

Book one: Battling Brexit is free and the other three books will be $0.99 through the 18th. A $20 value for only three bucks.

Start here!

‘Tito’s Lost Children’ Now out as a Boxed Set

Today is Statehood Day in Slovenia. It marks the day when Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia.

My alternative history trilogy, Tito’s Lost Children, is set during Slovenia’s ensuing Ten-Day-War of Independence, and the following breakup of the rest of Yugoslavia. It follows the adventures of a snarky band of late teens and twenty-somethings as they try to keep the country from tearing itself apart, and increasingly just attempt to stop the violence.

The books have also been out for the better part of two years now. So, Statehood Day, and the 30th anniversary of Slovenian independence, seemed like the perfect time to finally release the entire trilogy as one boxed set ebook!

It’s launching at the special sale price of $0.99. Get it while you can before it will go to $7.99 on July 3rd.

Tito’s Lost Children. A Tale of the Yugoslav Wars. The Complete Trilogy, is available Here.

Tito’s Lost Children at the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum

It’s great to have my novel Tito’s Lost Children. War One: Slovenia included in the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum’s exhibit ‘Impressions 30,’ meant to mark the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia.

The book is an alternative history novel, which partially takes place during the event’s of the Ten Day War of independence. The exhibit will run through January 2022 in Ljubljana.

Here are some pictures from the opening ceremony:

The Russia Chronicles Book 2 Launches

The second book in The Russia Chronicles, a thrilling action-adventure series, which follows the fortunes of a gang of homeless teenagers, launches today. In Book Two Katya, Pyotr and their friends a must outwit a ruthless police agent in order to make it to a secret sanctuary… if they don’t succumb to the perils of the Russian countryside first!

The ebook of Book Two: The Siberian Spirit will be at the special sale price of $0.99 until May 10th, when the price goes up to $4.99 (The print book is also available).

As part of the launch, Book One in The Russia Chronicles, The Streets of Moscow, will be free for the same period of time.

The cover and synopsis of Book Two are below:


A desperate band of Russian street kids has been forced to flee their hideout in Moscow’s Second Subway. Totally unprepared to survive in the sub-freezing countryside, they have only one hope: to reach a hidden Slavic pagan sanctuary called The Lake.

Peter Greenfield no longer thinks of returning to his former life as the pampered son of American diplomats. Now known as Pyotr Bolshoiov, his more immediate problem is to survive the brutal Russian winter and keep his new family of “small homeless” together.

Katya, a glue addict from an impoverished Siberian family, may be the key to the group’s survival. The secrets hidden in her family tree could also make her a threat to the Russian government’s hold on power. She must outwit a ruthless agent of the Federal Security Bureau, who will stop at nothing to take his revenge on Katya, Pyotr and the rest of their bunch.

Stranded in the cold and shunned by heartless villagers, they have no choice but to trek eastward. A chance encounter with a group of international tourists on the Trans-Siberian Express could bring the help they so urgently need – or deliver all of them into the hands of the FSB. Katya’s stubborn Siberian spirit will be tested, not only by the elements, but by the sinister forces vowing to make Katya, Pyotr and their friends disappear.