Tuesday 25 June 2019

#HistoricalFiction author, Elizabeth Ducie, is talking about what inspired her to write her fabulous book — Gorgito’s Ice Rink #History #Russia @ElizabethDucie

Where does my writing come from?
An Author’s Inspiration
By Elizabeth Ducie

When I first worked in Russia in 1993, my client was a Georgian immigrant called Khariton Davrashvilli. He was a larger than life character: a hard drinker who loved to party when the working day was over. Our first meeting took place in a casino. He shook my hand, gave me a few gambling tokens and pushed me towards the Blackjack table! That was the moment realised my working life was never going to be quite the same ever again.

Khariton ran a large pharmaceutical distribution company out of a former military base in the middle of a forest 500 kilometres north east of Moscow. 

I never did find out how he made his way from Tbilisi in the far south of the Soviet Union to this wild place. Nor how he managed to get hold of what had the potential to be a huge asset once the finance systems settled down. We were there because he wanted to begin manufacturing the drugs himself. It was a fascinating project, and the small packaging facility we set up and commissioned is still running successfully, more than 25 year later. 

Khariton was a great sports benefactor. His dinner guests included Olympic boxers and other local sports heroes. And he had a dream: to build an ice rink where the future Olympic skating stars could train. Unfortunately, his lifestyle caught up with him and he died in his mid-fifties before he had a chance to bring the ice-rink into reality.

So I decided to build it for him - at least in the pages of a novel: and at that moment, Gorgito Tabatadze was created.

Gorgito Tabatadze 

Gorgito’s Ice Rink is a time-slip quest novel with story lines set in the 1990s and from the 1940s to the 1970s. It is completely fictional; I didn’t know anything about Khariton’s family or his background - so I made it up. And I never set foot in Russia before 1993, so the historical thread was very definitely a complete work of fiction. But inevitably I picked up anecdotes and experiences in the fifteen years I was working there, and many individual incidents found their way into the book.

The moonlight drive down narrow country roads in a minibus following a weaving limousine as our hero drives honoured guests back to their hotel after a party. The British engineers teaching the Russians to dance the hokey-cokey. The missile silos converted into underground warehouses holding a wide variety of goods during the time when money was short and even the larger companies indulged in bartering. The day-long celebration accompanying the opening of the factory.

The hardy Russians picnicking in the snow on Valentine’s Day. The bottle of water switched for vodka by an engineer hoping to remain sober through an interminable dinner. The visitors to the factory who were ushered in by a proud owner with little or no regard for hygiene regulations. And, of course, the rouble crash in August 1998 which brought many projects, including the one I was working on at the time, juddering to a halt.

One question that’s often discussed among writers is whether to use real locations as settings for their books. In Gorgito’s Ice Rink, the base-turned-factory was a real place, but the town of Nikolevsky was invented. This was because I wanted to combine features I’d seen in different places. It is a mash-up of Kostroma (where Khariton lived) and Kursk, a city south of Moscow.

My fiction takes a variety of forms. As well as this novel, I have a series of thrillers, plus three collections of small pieces. But there is one thing that unites all of them: the sense of place. Most times I start with a location; then invent the characters; and then give them something to keep them occupied until they take over and direct the story themselves.

Gorgito’s Ice Rink

Can keeping a new promise make up for breaking an old one?

When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her death-bed he will find the missing girl and bring her home; but it is to prove an impossible quest.

Forty years later, Gorgito, now a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice-rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.

With the help of a British engineer, who has fled to Russia to escape her own heartache, and hindered by the local Mayor who has his own reasons for wanting the project to fail, can Gorgito overcome bureaucracy, corruption, economic melt-down and the harsh Russian climate in his quest to build the ice-rink and bring a lost sister home? And will he finally forgive himself for breaking the promise to his mother?

A story of love, loss and broken promises. Gorgito's story, told through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched. Gorgito’s Ice Rink was Runner Up in the 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards.

Pick up your copy of
Gorgito’s Ice Rink

Elizabeth Ducie

When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—text books, articles and training modules—and write about some of her travel experiences instead. She took some courses in Creative Writing and discovered to her surprise that she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction than memoirs or life-writing. In 2012, she gave up the day job, and started writing full-time. She has published three novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.

Connect with Elizabeth: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting me, Mary Anne. I really enjoyed writing this piece and remembering how it all started. Elizabeth.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx