Biking along the Baltic near Svetlogorsk (former Rauschen) in Kaliningrad Oblast in 2019. The characters of my new novel might have wandered along these beaches.

My mom attended this school in Kreuzburg in 1931/32 when she first arrived from the Soviet Union.

As a newcomer and orphan, Katya, in Broken Stone, experiences much unhappiness here. When I explored the Kaliningrad Oblast in 2019, bullet holes from the final battles of the Second World War, still scarred the partially inhabited building.

Found it! This would have been the family house that my mom and her siblings lived in after their escape from the Soviet Union. Orphaned during collectivization, East Prussian relatives took them in.  This transition was a dark time for my mom, which I explore in the novel Broken Stone. 

When I visited back in 2019, a friendly, retired man from Kazakhstan lived there. The house was well maintained and his yard filled with flowers.

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