A Hero for Our Time: Dimitry Pozharsky

Does the news cycle depress you? Have you lost any hope in the emergence of a hero for our time who might direct our political system and our guide our culture in a better direction? I know I do sometimes. In my writer’s manifesto,I try to describe what I see as a necessary “story hero” for our time. He is not a hulking warrior who puts down hundreds of enemies with his…

How a Two-Week Mission to Alaska Inspired Me to Write

Authors are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Often, it’s a question impossible to answer, and perhaps not for the reason you think. The problem is that we get our ideas from everywhere. Sometimes a kernel of a thought can lead to the plot line of an entire series. Other times, a two-week long trip can end up as a few paragraphs in a book. And both are necessary, because…

Their Souls Grew Together: Anna Dostoyevskaya, part 3

This week, we conclude the amazing story of Anna Dostoyevskaya, the woman without whom Dostoyevsky would never have written his best and most famous novels. Here are Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them. Saving the marriage Although Anna Dostoyevskaya often repeated that she had been only a child when she was married, she adapted to her new position very quickly. She also immediately took upon herself the responsibility of…

Their Souls Grew Together: Anna Dostoyevsky, Part 2

Last week, you were introduced to one of the most fascinating and fruitful romances of literary history. Feodor and Anna Dostoyevsky’s sometimes difficult marriage was also the source of inspiration for the great author’s most famous novels. This week, we go deeper into the first heady days of that romance and the inevitable early difficulties of married life. It’s Good That You Are Not a Man What was happening at that time…

Their Souls Grew Together: Anna Dostoyevskaya, Part 1

This week is my third novel’s birthday. It’s been a long process to get it into print, and the many rewrites and adjustments are testament to it being a real labor of love. I don’t dare put myself in the same class as Dostoyevsky, but when I read about his long hours, his many rough drafts, or his incredible notebooks that served as “idea dumping grounds,” I can’t help but feel that…

Why Do Icons Show Battle Scenes?

It’s a short post today, about as much as a toddler-induced headache can muster. But I found an interesting article about a question that some of you may have had. If icons are supposed to represent holy object and people, why do some of them have full-on battle scenes? Take this one for example: What’s going on? In the Russian magazine Foma, artist Dmitrii Trophimov answered this question. What follows is my translation…

Theophany Eve: Fiery Dragons, Magic Snow, and Other Strange Folk Traditions

A few days ago, I checked the weather for the week. Today in Jordanville it was supposed to be in the forties and raining. But when I woke up, it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit. I shouldn’t have been surprised. The weatherman didn’t know he was dealing with the realities of Russian folk beliefs, even thousands of miles away from Russia! Today, as the weatherman should have known, is the day before Theophany,…

A Reflection on 2017, and Plans for the Coming Year

The end of the year should be a time of quiet reflection. The weather here around Jordanville encourages this with its cold, quiet, and dim golden light. The days are short, and the night beckons with an insistence that is maddening, especially when you have toddlers who are immune to night. But it’s rarely a calm time for me. It’s more like, “Let’s get it all done quickly before the year ends!!!”…

Can Fairy Tales Save? A Lecture Given to St. Sophia Seminary

Last week, I had the great pleasure of speaking to the seminarians at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary. The talk, given via Skype, was a distillation of much of what I’ve been thinking about over the last year or so as I’ve begun to publish my novels. Here are some of the issues mentioned: What is the interplay between culture and Christianity? Why does a Christian have to have a poetic soul?…

Constantine the Great: Russia’s Secret Tsar

The problem of power and personality is one that has fascinated people from the beginning of history. We are going to through our own particular version of it right now in America. Everyone seems to be at war with the President and Congress. Then we have a strange, sometimes morbid, obsession with Vladimir Putin in Russia. I am fascinated by individuals in history who manage to reach an apex of power where…