From Russia with Love

Between novels being published, there’s often not a lot of news for a writer to share but this update is a big deal for me!

I celebrated a milestone birthday (21, again!) last week and used it as a good excuse to go on a special holiday to Russia, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. We started off in Moscow and did all the usual touristy stuff but then took the train to St Petersburg for a few days.

This was more of a ‘work’ than ‘play’ trip as the novel I’m writing refers to the Siege of Leningrad and I wanted to do some research. To get a feel for the impact on the city, I went on a private walking tour of the main sights related to the siege and also to the museum dedicated to the events (essential to have a guide as the signs are only in Russian). 


After the tour, I met with a retired curator who is an expert in the albums referred to in my novel which contain messages of support and solidarity between the women in Leningrad and Airdrie and Coatbridge, my local area. Irina’s specialist input and generosity in sharing her extensive knowledge was invaluable preparation for the following day.

This final appointment took a lot of planning to make it happen but it was well worth the effort. The highlight of my visit to St Petersburg was when I had the absolute privilege of a private viewing of the album which was sent from Scotland and is now in possession of the state history museum. To be allowed this opportunity was an honour and an emotional experience. I’m now home and even more fired up to attempt to bring this amazing story to life. Better stop eating birthday cake and get back to my desk and writing then!

Have you made a special trip for research? Or celebrated a big birthday somewhere that was on your ‘bucket list’?