My Top Five Writing Tips

On my  this week, I talk about my passion for historical fiction and share a few insights into how I write my books.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with historical fiction. As a child, I always had my nose in a book, even when I was supposed to be doing something else, like homework. The Count of Monte Cristo was my number one favourite, with its dark themes of revenge and ultimate forgiveness. The Three Musketeers was a close second, with its astonishing friendship and swashbuckling adventures. Dumas has an incredible ability to transport you back in time and capture your imagination and I couldn’t get enough. When I was a little older, I discovered one of his lesser known novels, The Companions of Jehu, and it led to an obsession with Napoleonic history that lasted a lifetime, and a university degree. At university, I realised there was only one thing better than reading historical fiction, and that’s writing it.

Every writer is different and what works for one person might not work for others, but are five tips that always help me when I’m writing.

Cover Reveal for Daughters of the Resistance

I am absolutely thrilled to share the cover for my new book, Daughters of the Resistance, coming to Kindle in April and bookstores in September. Huge thanks to the fantastic team at HarperCollins UK for this beautiful and atmospheric cover, I think it captures what the novel is all about perfectly.

Out of all the books I’ve written, Daughters of the Resistance is definitely my favourite. It’s a story of war and partisan battalions, of love, difficult choices and sacrifice, inspired by my grandmother’s memories. For those who have read Sisters of War, this story is told from the point of view of the other sister, Lisa. Can’t wait to see the book out there soon!

Ukraine, 1943

On a train from Ukraine to Germany, Lisa Smirnova is terrified for her life. The train is under Nazi command, heading for one of Hitler’s rumoured labour camps. As she is taken away from everything she holds dear, Lisa wonders if she will ever see her family again.

In Nazi-occupied Kiev, Irina Antonova knows she could be arrested at any moment. Trapped in a job registering the endless deaths of the people of Kiev, she risks her life every day by secretly helping her neighbours, while her husband has joined the Soviet partisans, who are carrying out life-threatening work to frustrate the German efforts.

When Lisa’s train is intercepted by the partisans, Irina’s husband among them, these women’s lives will take an unimaginable turn. As Irina fights to protect her family and Lisa is forced to confront the horrors of war, together they must make an impossible decision: what would they be willing to lose to save the people they love?

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Sisters of War is USA Today Bestseller

Sisters of War is on the USA Today bestseller list and I’m still pinching myself because it feels like a dream. Thank you HarperCollins UK and all the readers out there who bought the book. I can’t wait to see Sisters of War in bookstores around the English-speaking world later this year.

It was my childhood dream to see my books in bookstores but I never thought it would happen. When I moved to Australia as a teenager, I didn’t speak much English. And when I was brave enough to write in English and finished my first book, like most authors I received rejection after rejection from agents and publishers. There were times when I promised myself I would never write again but I continued because I loved it. After years of writing and trying to get my book published, to finally hold my copy in my hands was an incredible feeling!

Sisters of War

The Story of Us had a make-over and I couldn’t be more excited! It has a new title (Sisters of War) and a brand new cover. I’m so in love with the new concept for the book, I think it suits the plot and the atmosphere of the novel perfectly. I hope you like it too!

In other news, Her Perfect Lies was in the top 50 in Kindle store on Amazon US and number 1 in all its categories this month! It’s a first for me and I’m so grateful to the lovely team at HarperCollins UK who made this possible and to all my wonderful readers who downloaded the book. Thank you!

SBS Radio

I had a fantastic time on SBS radio, talking books, publishing, my writing process and inspiration, and what it’s like for new authors out there. Thank you SBS Australia for inviting me!

My journey to publication was a long and difficult one. When I finished my first book, I thought all the hard work was behind me. Little did I know, the hardest part was still to come. If you speak Russian, you can listen to my story .

Cover Reveal for Her Perfect Lies

My second novel is going to be published in November and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve been working on this book on and off for years, writing, re-writing, deleting everything and starting from scratch. Over the years it’s changed titles, main characters and even genres. It started as a short story, hurriedly scribbled on a boarding pass during a holiday in Grenoble and later appearing in Spark anthology. A couple of years later it became a romance novel and then a romantic suspense novel. Finally, it transformed into a psychological thriller.

This book is dark, sinister, and scared me at times as I was writing it. Because it’s a departure from my usual genre of historical fiction, it will be released under a different pen name.

Thank you HQ Digital and HarperCollins UK for making my dream come true and for this fantastic cover.

She can’t trust anyone. Even herself…

When Claire Wright wakes in hospital, she doesn’t recognise the person staring back at her in the mirror. She’s told that she has the perfect life: she’s beautiful, famous, with a husband and a house to die for.

But Claire can’t remember anything from before the devastating car crash that’s left her injured. And now she’s surrounded by strangers, saying they’re her family and friends.

As Claire discovers the person she used to be she must also unravel the mystery that surrounds the accident. But the more Claire uncovers, the more she will be forced to face up to the dark secrets from her life before…

What readers are saying about Her Perfect Lies:

‘Awesome psychological thriller with edge of your seat suspense. If you’re planning to read only one psychological thriller this year then make it Her Perfect Lies!’

‘Unpredictable and full of suspense, this engrossed me from page one.’‘Suspenseful and full of mystery!’

‘WOW! I didn’t see that coming! So many twists and turns; I couldn’t put the book down!’‘An entertaining and gripping book that kept me on the edge till the end.’

‘Loads of mystery, twists and turns and filled with suspense!’

‘This book caught hold of me and had me hooked from the start. I was literally on the edge of my seat reading this book!’

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View on Amazon UK

For more buying options, view on Harper Collins Website

Historical Novel Society and The Story of Us

I am thrilled to be featured in Historical Novel Society Magazine’s New Voices column this month, and in such wonderful company.

I attended a writing conference organised by the Historical Novel Society in London in 2014 and it was absolutely fantastic. I got to pitch an early draft of The Story of Us to two amazing agents and received personal and insightful feedback. I also enjoyed meeting some of my favourite authors and hearing about their writing process. I still remember Conn Iggulden’s keynote speech, which inspired not only my writing but also my quest for publication. Knowing that others had faced rejection and still made it to the top was incredibly encouraging. Every time another rejection letter landed in my inbox and I wanted to give up, I thought of Conn’s words and kept going. Now that The Story of Us is finally out there for readers to enjoy and I’m working on my next two books, I’m so glad I never stopped trying. Thank you so much Historical Novel Society for this wonderful experience and for featuring me in your column!

Cover Reveal for The Story of Us

I absolutely love the cover for The Story of Us, with its haunting images of Kreshchatyk and Pechersk Lavra under the Nazi occupation! With only two months to go until publication, I am getting super excited. I can’t wait to see this book out there and to share it with all of you!

Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, Natasha Smirnova realises her life is about to change forever.

As Kiev is cast under the dark cloud of occupation, Natasha falls in love with Mark, a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.

But as Natasha fights to protect the friends and family she holds dear she must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will the love she and Mark share be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear them apart?

The Story of Us is a powerful tale of love, loss, and the power of hope set in Kiev during the Second World War, perfect for fans of Kate Furnivall, Pam Jenoff, and V. S. Alexander.

The story of Natasha and her family is very close to my heart. Like most Russians, I grew up hearing about the war from my grandparents. These stories are in our blood, like our love for Pushkin and our penchant for drinking tea with every meal. My grandparents were too young to fight in the war but old enough to remember the hunger and the fear for everyone they loved, especially their fathers, far away at the Eastern front and inching their way towards Berlin.

The Kindle edition will be published in December and the paperback a couple of months later. The Story of Us is available for pre-order at all the online retailers.

View on Amazon US

View on Amazon UK

For more buying options,  view on Harper Collins Website

Savaged Lands is acquired by HQ Digital/HarperCollins

I have amazing news! My first novel, Savaged Lands, has a new home. It has been acquired by HQ Digital, an imprint of HarperCollins, who publish many of my favourite authors. The book will have a different title (The Story of Us), a brand new cover, and will be available in December. I’m thrilled to be joining HQ Digital family and can’t wait to share the new edition with all of you!

On This Day in Napoleonic History – 21 January 1793

Louis XVI is executed by guillotine at the Place de la Révolution in Paris

The king’s execution marked the turning point of the French Revolution. On hearing about Louis’s death, Napoleon said, ‘Oh, the wretches. The poor wretches. They will go through anarchy.’

Napoleon saw the king’s execution, followed in October by Marie-Antoinette’s, as a tactical error. ‘Had the French been more moderate and not put Louis to death,’ he later said, ‘all Europe would have been revolutionised.’ As it was, the king’s death would propel all major European powers to start arming against France.