I sent a flurry of e-mails to friends announcing the book and inviting them to the book launch. I immediately received a response from Mariya Reva, a former student of mine from Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Now a talented architect living in New Jersey, she is Ukrainian, with family ties to Odesa. She remembered Night Train to Odessa, as we'd discussed the story when we were at Taliesin.
She was thrilled with my news.
"You won't believe this, but it's meant to be," she wrote back. "I am leaving shortly for Ukraine and have a ticket for the Night Train that runs between Kyiv and Odesa. I will be reading your book on the train!!" And she sent me a copy of her ticket:
Overjoyed, I quickly mailed her a package of books to take to Odesa. This was a dream come true—with more on the way. After we checked the date and time on her ticket we discovered Mariya would be reading my book on the train and arriving in Odesa just as my book launch was taking place at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe. Needless to say, I tucked a copy of her ticket in my pocket for good luck as I headed to my book launch.
Here is Mariya in Ukraine on board the night train. This train that has traveled between Kyiv and Odesa for over 100 years and is featured in my novel.
Here is the iconic train station in Odesa, Odesa-Holovna. It is a beautiful building that announces the historic architecture of this fabulous seaport city.
Odesa, a place of writers and poets, hosts a variety of bookstores, book bazaars, reading rooms,
Mariya talked with booksellers, translators, readers, and friends. I am grateful to her and could not have asked for more. . . except for a photo of the Opera House featured on
the cover of Night Train to Odessa.
Thank you Mariya. Despite this impossible, dreadful war you've signaled a glimmer of
hope for us all.
Warm greetings to all in Ukraine. . . Peace
Signing books at Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, NM
September 14, 2023.
NIGHT TRAIN TO ODESSA COMES TO UKRAINE
September 27, 2023
All writers wish to share their books with as many readers as possible and work diligently to make that happen. As Night Train to Odessa was going to press I was excited, but also wondered how the book would reach readers in Ukraine, a country now bombarded daily by Russian artillery. When I began writing the story eight years ago, I knew the political situation was precarious, but never imagined a full-scale war would break out and decimate cities like Mariupol and villages like Bucha. I watched the nightly news and worried—not just about my book, but about the people of Ukraine and about the talented writers and artists who live there and struggle to continue working during such a difficult time.
After I received the final proofs of Night Train to Odessa and knew the book was as ready as it would ever be, I contacted Dorothy Massey, the owner of Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, where I live. Collected Works, in business for 45 years, is a landmark in the city, and Dorothy has always promoted beautiful books and showcased a select number of local authors. I was pleased when she read NightTrain to Odessa and was eager to launch the book at Collected Works on September 14, a Thursday evening.