I was born in Moscow in 1960. My grandmother wanted me to be named Polina, but my parents thought that was old-fashioned and named me Tatiana instead. I wrote my first poem when I was five.

Polina Dashkova

Polina Dashkova

I was a student and graduated from the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. I wrote an epic poem with lots of characters and an intricate plot. My poetry teacher told me that one day I'd become a famous novelist.

I worked as a journalist and columnist for The Country Youthone of the most popular and free-thinking legal monthly magazines for young people in the Soviet Union. I wrote poems, stories, and articles and dreamed of writing a great novel. I also was able to travel all over the country.

I married at twenty and gave birth with great love to a daughter, Anna, when I was twenty-six, and to another daughter, Daria, when I was thirty-three. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union and all the other despicable Communist monsters came crashing down, burying my sweet Country Youth in its ruin.

I wrote my first major novel when I was thirty-six. It is called The Blood of the Unborn, a thriller. I took out the directory and phoned a few publishing houses, one of which invited me to bring my manuscript in the next day. The editor, a slim, very tired man, took my fat, typewritten manuscript and told me to wait a couple of months for them to call. They called three days later to say they would publish my book.

In order to be published, the publisher told me I had to come up with a wonderful pen-name, because my real name wasn't so wonderful. It was all so amazing, I was quite willing. So I took the first name, Polina, from my maiden name, Poliachenko, and the last name from my younger daughter Dasha. The book came out three months later and the next day I woke up famous.

Twenty years have passed since my first novel was published. In that time, I've published twenty-seven books, which have sold 30 million copies in Russian alone. And my novels have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Polish, Chinese, Estonian, and Romanian . . . and now English.

I don't have a specific hobby. I like to travel, walk in the forest, sleep 'til noon, brew strong coffee in my silver coffeepot and drink it from a beautiful tiny cup. I like to write with a fountain pen and type on my little laptop, eat ice cream in the summer, and attend live concerts of classical music.

Here are some of my dislikes: I don't like cooking, crowds, talking when there's nothing to talk about, being late, or hurrying to my destination and waiting. I hate boiled onions, stuffiness, propaganda, and bureaucrats. And I hate myself when I can't write.

I once encountered a bear in Siberia. Our guide told us to freeze. Between the trees, about twenty meters away, something enormous flashed by. I didn’t get a good look at it, but I remember my strong feeling, a mixture of fear and curiosity. Later the guide explained that encountering a bear in the summer presents no danger for man in principle. Winter is another matter. If a bear hasn’t fattened up enough over the summer and wakes up hungry, he can get very aggressive.