timofiy shadura on a background of the Ukrainian flag in the shape of Ukraine
I’ve been working on edits for my next Redemption’s Price release for what feels like forever now. It follows the Boulder Pride alpha’s oldest son as he’s taken captive by the Soviet Army when they invade Berlin. He becomes trapped in Russia and trapped in the horrors of the Soviet system. He rebuilds a pride shattered by Soviet cruelty and sacrifices himself to that cruelty to save them. He refuses to stop fighting against the regime trying to destroy him. This is a book I’m immensely proud of as a writer and as a historian.

But I cannot in good conscience publish this book while Russia is engaged in a genocidal war against Ukraine. I refuse to even accidentally play into any kind of Russian propaganda about the greatness of Russian culture while their entire culture is focused on committing genocide and some of the most horrific war crimes the world has ever seen. 

I’ve been fascinated by Russian history since I was 13 and saw the Palaces of St. Petersburg exhibit in Jackson, Mississippi. At the time, I was reading a series called The Russians by Michael Philips and Judith Pella. The things I had read about the day before were on display right in front of me, from this far away place that a girl from a dying Louisiana cotton town couldn’t imagine. Ever since then I’ve devoured Russian history and read every novel I can get my hands on set in Russia. Pre-internet, that was no easy feat.

It’s because of my deep love and interest in Russian history that when I woke up on February 24, 2022 and looked at the hundred or so messages on my phone from my editor, I knew exactly where I stood in this war. I #StandWithUkraine, now and always. I continue to be in awe of Ukrainian courage, tenacity, and humor. I’ve cried with them, rejoiced with them, and participated in the fight against Kremlin propaganda. I’ll keep doing these things for as long as it’s needed, because my historical knowledge of Russia gives me an edge in the fight when it comes to exposing Kremlin lies. My main hobby for relaxing is counted cross stitch. I’ve done a deep dive into Ukrainian cross stitch motifs and I design cross stitch patterns with them. It’s a way for me to work through my grief and contribute to raising awareness of the beauty of Ukrainian culture. 

I won’t say the last 16 months (at the time of this writing) have been easy. There have been so many days where I’ve cried most of the day. And nearly as many days spent in almost paralyzing rage. Then the day after, I go right back to work helping Ukraine fight for their right to be free and make their own choices. I refuse to actively cause pain to any Ukrainian anywhere in the world by publishing a novel set in Russia. To do so right now, for me, is morally wrong.

The art is of Tymofiy Shadura. He was brutally murdered via beheading in February of 2023. His last words were “Slava Ukraini.” Glory to Ukraine. The response to this is Heroyam Slava, glory to the heroes. Ukraine is a nation of heroes and I’m proud to fight alongside them.

Слава Україні!