Award-winning author Theresa Breslin writes a piece for us upon the release of her new novel, The Rasputin Dagger, a love story set in the Russian Revolution.
I’ve written over 40 books and my historical novels are read by adults and young adults and have been translated into many languages.
As a child I desperately wanted to travel - anywhere, everywhere. Turns out that it’s one of the huge bonuses of being a writer. I’ve been invited to speak all over the world: from Chichester to China, from Saltcoats to San Francisco.
It was on a trip to Istanbul that I saw the fabulous Topkapi Dagger. Right away I knew that I wanted to write a book featuring a mysterious dagger which wields a strange power over the person who owns it. A dagger which carries a deadly curse…
I’ve always been keen on history and especially interested in weird characters from the past. The wild ‘mad’ monk Rasputin, who was said to be a German spy in league with the Tsarina, was an absolute must for me to explore.
It seemed apt to have a book out in 2017, the Centenary Year of the Russian Revolution. And I wanted to tell part of the story of the Bread Queue Women whose protests in February 1917 led to the abdication of the Tsar, and thereafter to revolution.
I like writing in first person and wrote this book with two ‘first’ persons. Nina and Stefan tell what’s happening to them through their stormy relationship, from when they first meet and clash, amid the dangers and chaos of a city in revolt.
I love doing the research for my work. For my previous titles, come the end of the year I’d go sauntering through Italy, Spain or France, while at home folks were facing the winter weather. However, hard reality struck when doing research for this new novel, The Rasputin Dagger. It’s set during the Russian revolution and I ended up in Siberia in late November…
I found Russia a magical and moving country, full of diverse peoples and I wanted to reflect this in the book. A century ago this vast sprawling Empire, about one sixth of the world’s land mass, was incredibly difficult to govern. The very thought of it is overwhelming and gave me a certain amount of sympathy for the predicament of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and their children.
The physical form of writing fascinates me - from ancient Sanskrit texts through medieval manuscripts to modern Baby Kruffy. I’m fond of calligraphy and can do a passable Cursive Chancery Script (it’s the manuscript original of our present Italic typeface). Superb attention to detail by my publishers has resulted in The Rasputin Dagger having elegant title pages and headers with a definite Russian resonance.
Some of my work has been translated into the Russian language. I’d be delighted if my Russian publisher takes The Rasputin Dagger.
The Rasputin Dagger by Theresa Breslin, published by Penguin Random House, releases on 10th August 2017 in paperback and ebook. It is available to buy from retailers including amazon.co.uk. For more information please visit www.theresabreslin.co.uk or follow Theresa on twitter on @theresabreslin1