I think most readers of this blog know that among other things, I write novels. They started out, 30 years ago, as a way for me to explore Russian culture and to combine my own (sketchy) Russian heritage with something very dear to my heart at the time: federal law enforcement, which I had just left three years earlier when my daughter was born.
Well, the characters in that first book have taken on an entire life of their own since I became Orthodox — 18 years ago, now — and I found that just writing about their little Cold-War romance wasn’t enough. Now they’re married, they have kids, they’ve become enmeshed in international intrigue — it turns out that my hero’s father was spying for the CIA. And his wife knew about it. And never told him. And he’s in internal-affairs, that organ of any police agency charged with investigating police officers accused of crimes. (When this whole thing started, my own career with internal affairs had just ended, so there was no way my hero was going to be involved in any other aspect of law enforcement!)
So: You’re in the KGB, your wife is an American, the only reason she is allowed to be your wife is that you’ve been charged with uncovering her secret mission to Russia, and you learn that your own father’s been knifing you in the back for years — and your wife, whom you have come to love profoundly, knew about it. And never told you. How are you going to react??
I don’t know.
So, although this particular scenario takes place between 1985 and 1988, long before the internet became one of life’s minor essentials, my heroine has begun keeping a blog. In Russian. About what her life is like, with a hostile husband, his distraught mother, and their four children, in a foreign country, where she is under investigation as a spy (which she isn’t). My hope is that through her blog, I can get inside her husband’s head, and be able to write convincingly about his reactions to all of this.
(Oh, side benefit: maybe I’ll finally learn how to type on a Russian keyboard. It’s slow going, so far.)
Sheesh, the things we do for our characters…