Saturday, June 6, 2015

HOTEL MOSCOW-- The Surprises

[Note to readers: With the launch of HOTEL MOSCOW this week, I've been late in posting the May newsletter that had been sent last month to subscribers. Please write to to receive your June mailing as soon as it is available.]

Hello to old friends who have read my previous novels, and hello to new ones that, I hope, will soon embark on a satisfying journey with Brooke Fielding, the protagonist of my new novel, HOTEL MOSCOW.

In my April newsletter—the first in this monthly series—I touched on how my experiences in Russia have finally materialized in HOTEL MOSCOW: I was a consultant to Fortune 500 companies when, in 1993, I was sent by the U.S. Information Agency to Russia to teach Russian women the entrepreneurial skills they needed after the fall of communism. On my second visit, in October, I was caught in the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Yeltsin, was chased by the militia and was threatened with jail.

What equally terrified me in the midst of a civil war was seeing graffiti of Yeltsin's name with the letter L—a triangle in Cyrillic—turned into a Star of David. When I asked why, I was told, “The Jews are behind it.” 
       It was a sobering introduction to virulent anti-Semitism. Jews were again being blamed for events that had nothing to do with us! 

The second surprise happened on November 3, 1993 at 2:48 PM—just four weeks after my escape from Moscow—when I sat down and began to write fiction. 
       A story happens when the individual’s spirit clashes with the power of religion, social conformity, or political upheaval—and emerges victorious. And I’ve had quite a few stories to tell. But it took me to mature as a writer and have the perspective of time to return to this particular historical time and place. 

An over-arching situation sets the background for a novel and drives the plot, but often marginal fragments of research spin the story into a surprising, new orbit. 

In Moscow I had witnessed some of the uprising first hand, with hundreds of civilians attacking a large police unit, the heavy artillery military confrontation, and the burning of the parliament building. But to make sense of the events, back in the USA I attended lectures about the Russian politics of the time and interviewed Cold War-era US security personnel. I recorded personal accounts of recent Soviet immigrants about the suffering and tribulations of living at the bottom of the food chain in a corrupt society. Personally, while visiting Russia twice in 1993, I watched the most educated group of women I had ever met suffer the indignation that came from deprivation: When the famous food lines led to empty stores, these women were reduced to being gatherers and hunters almost like the African women I had counseled before.

HOTEL MOSCOW's unique themes:

       Brooke meets Russians conditioned to distrust after a lifetime of bankrupt ideology and empty slogans—and living in nightmarish communal apartments. They are trying to make sense of a bewildering world in transition from communism, a world where economic survival is critical yet overwhelmingly foreign. 
       On a different layer, HOTEL MOSCOW also has two strong Jewish themes: One is the legacy of second-generation, children born in freedom to Holocaust survivors. The other is the challenge of forging secular Jewish identity unrelated to faith. I wanted to juxtaposed these ideas against blatant anti-Semitism, and so I sent my protagonist to Russia to see how she would react. 


It is exhilarating to meet book lovers. Please check my upcoming book tour schedule, starting in NY, NJ, and CT. (By August I’ll add my visits elsewhere.)

In my keynote speeches I talk about what happens to a society when women are excluded from participating in the public arena. I speak about the forged identity of an unaffiliated, secular Jew, or I discuss how stories find me.
Stay tuned: There is so much I want to tell you (and Skype with you in your book groups!) In my next newsletter I will write about the Kommunalkas—the communal apartments that were a lifelong nightmare which has left its mark on the Russian psyche.

The countdown to the release of HOTEL MOSCOW on June 2nd has begun. Now is the time to pre-order it at a great discount at  Amazon, B&NiTunes, or even better--support your indie bookstore. (My novels are published in paperback format to keep the price down.)

Thank you, former readers and future friends. I am looking forward to hearing from you,

Talia Carner

       Endorsements for the book have been coming from bestselling authors of suspense thrillers. Nelson DeMille wrote: “HOTEL MOSCOW is a wonderful evocation of time and place and a post-Cold War thriller that will keep the reader mesmerized.” 
       Or Kirkus Reviews: “…a compelling narrative of lives lived in dystopia. The novel sheds much-needed light on this turbulent period in Russian history."

       For more pre-publication reviews from best-selling authors Andrew Gross, Tami Hoag, Ellen Mesiter, Rodney Barker, and Jay Neugeboren, please click here.