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Women play so many different roles throughout their lives, and I wanted to illustrate that a bit in my three main characters, Vika, Liliya, and Halya, who are all experiencing the war in various ways and points in their lives.

Vika is first and foremost a mother. She’s tough, but she struggles to find a way to protect her children through two different, yet brutal, invasions and occupations—Soviet and Nazi—when she doesn’t know how to survive herself. Her character was very personal to me, both as a mother and because her storyline loosely follows my great-grandmother’s experiences in Ukraine during World War 2.

Liliya is young woman in the prime of her life. When she should be preparing for the next exciting steps into adulthood, she’s burying family members and fighting to protect her younger cousin and friend. Hers, like so many others who experience such turmoil in their youth, is a life deferred, and in that interim period, her dreams shift and readjust to fit her new reality. But, at what cost?

Halya is my youngest character. Readers of The Memory Keeper of Kyiv will recognize her as the baby Katya struggled to keep alive through the Holodomor. Her story was especially difficult to write, as she’s not even twelve years old when she’s taken from her family and sent to Germany as a slave laborer. My son was roughly her age when I wrote this novel and even imagining him going through what she and millions of other even younger children endured was heartbreaking.

I sympathize with each of these women on a different level, and they all hold a special place in my heart. I hope their stories resonate with you the same way.

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