Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Anna Kashina, author of Ivan and Marya, a dark fantasy set in the world of Russian myth

Since I'm getting ready to move (and just finished a one month blog tour), I'm hosting some guest authors for the end of October and first week of November. Today's guest is Anna Kashina, author of dark fantasy. Welcome to The Write Type, Anna. ~Cheryl

Thank you, Cheryl, for the opportunity to interview for your blog.  I am very happy to be here.

1. What is “Ivan and Marya” about?

In a few words, it can be called “the dark essence of Russian myth”.  It is a fantasy with elements of romance based on a classical Russian fairy tale. 

The heroine, Marya, is a shapeshifter and the head priestess in her father’s cult of human sacrifice that dominates his kingdom.  Marya aids her father’s cause by luring their enemies into a trap of her beauty, and destroying them.  Ivan, a young man on a quest to defeat Marya’s father, walks straight into the trap and falls in love with her at first sight.  An unlikely hero, who carries no sword and has never killed anyone in his life, Ivan does not seem to be much of a challenge, but as Marya confronts him, she finds him to be a tougher enemy than she imagined.  To face Ivan and achieve her ‘happily ever after’, Marya must first discover the truth about her birth and her father’s true power -- and survive it.

2. So, why Russian myth?

I have always been interested in folklore and mythology.  Russian myth is very rich and distinct, a blend of East and West with many twists that make it truly unique.  This area is under-explored in fiction writing and those few books that use Russian folklore elements rarely make them authentic.  Having grown up in Russia, I feel I can really bring an authentic feel into the story, so that in addition to an adventure and love story it also can have a different flavor compared to other fairy tale fantasies.

3. Is all your story based entirely on folklore?

I carefully research all my books, so I made sure that it was not only an accurate representation of Russian folklore, but consistent with Russian history and real-life traditions.  Russia at that time was a collection of small kingdoms, which have not yet embraced Christianity.  The harvest god was one of the main worshipped deities, and the Solstice celebrations honored him with fertility rites and human sacrifice.

Solstice celebration is one of the oldest traditions in many religions that certainly precedes Christianity.  In Russia it acquired several unique twists.  What is not commonly known is that, in some forms these traditions are still practiced today.  When I was in school, we always went out into the woods on Midsummer eve, sang songs, made flower wreaths and set them floating in the water, drank herb tea that symbolized the ‘drink of love’, and jumped over a bonfire.  We also chose a girl and threw her into the water (not to drown her, of course, just for fun :-).  And, we sang a special Solstice rhyme.  I tried to follow this as closely as I could in my story. 

4. What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Write what you are passionate about.  And, never give up.

5. Do you have a web site where readers can find out more about yourself and your books?

Yes.  I have an author’s web site http://www.annakashina.com/ and a blog at http://blog.annakashina.com/, where I post writing tips, interviews with authors and publishing professionals, and book information.  Recently I started an ‘author exchange’ web site http://vacationreads.com/ that highlights recent fiction titles for all tastes.  I always welcome friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter and MySpace. And, I highly recommend my publisher’s web site, home to many great authors and stories: http://www.drolleriepress.com/.

IVAN AND MARYA is now available from most major e-book retailers (it is still not listed on amazon, but will be soon), as well as on my publisher’s web site.


Anna Kashina, was born in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994. She has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and is a published fantasy novelist in several languages.  Her other English language novel, THE PRINCESS OF DHAGABAD, is a love story between a princess and her djinn, set in the magical world of the Arabian Nights.  She lives in Philadelphia, where she is working hard on combining her career as a scientist and her passion for writing.

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