Join me in conversation with Historical Fiction author, Diana Stevan.
Hi Diana, and welcome to Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots.
Before we begin could you please introduce yourself to my readers.
I’m Diana Stevan, author of three novels and a novelette. I write about courage, love and intimate relationships.
Sunflowers Under Fire is my third novel, a family saga / historical fiction, based on my Ukrainian grandmother’s life in Russia during the Great War and the wars that followed. It’s a very different genre from my first two. I’ve been seriously writing for a few decades, ever since I left my private practice as a family therapist.
Mary Anne: Sunflowers Under Fire sounds amazing What inspired you to write the story of your Ukrainian grandmother’s life?
Diana: I don’t think I would’ve written this novel but my granddaughter, Chloe, suggested I write this story after I had told her a number of anecdotes about my baba, Lukia Mazurets. She and I shared a bedroom for the first fifteen years of my life. She never talked about her life in the old country. Perhaps it’s because, like soldiers who return from war, the times were so painful that she didn’t want to re-live them in any way.
Mary Anne: What challenges did you face when researching this period of history?
Diana: Initially, Sunflowers Under Fire was written as creative non-fiction, but I faced so many challenges researching this period of history, that I ended up publishing it as historical fiction. It can also be categorized as true life fiction as most of it is true. The parts I had to imagine were some scenes, characters and dialogue in order to breathe life into some of the circumstances my grandmother found herself in.
In my research, I found there was little written about the refugees in that part of the world, nor nothing about an ordinary farm wife who had to survive and protect her family during extraordinary times. Perhaps Russian or Ukrainian authors have written about this period but I was unable to read these works. As a result, I spent a lot of time in various libraries combing the shelves for books of that time and place. I visited libraries in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, New York, and a Ukrainian-English library in Stamford, Connecticut. I also consulted with a professor of Slavic Studies and found other material online, including old World War I photos and videos.
Mary Anne: Can you tell us three things that set your novel apart?
Mary Anne: Sunflowers Under Fire sounds fabulous and congratulations on your awards. Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
Diana: Because some readers wanted to know what happened next, I’m writing the sequel to Sunflowers Under Fire. I have two others in the works. A collection of short stories based on a rooming house I grew up in. Also a non-fiction book, Along Came A Gardener, combining thoughts from my 25 years as a family therapist with my love of gardening. Subscribers to my newsletter get the first chapter free. I’ve also sent them other chapters of this work-in-progress.
Mary Anne: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today!
Scroll down to be in with a chance of winning an eBook copy Sunflowers Under Fire.
Sunflowers Under Fire
By Diana Stevan
In this family saga, love and loss are bound together by a country always at war.
In 1915, Lukia Mazurets, a Ukrainian farmwife, delivers her eighth child while her husband is serving in the Tsar’s army. Soon after, she and her children are forced to flee the invading Germans. Over the next fourteen years, Lukia must rely on her wits and faith to survive life in a refugee camp, the ravages of a typhus epidemic, the Bolshevik revolution, unimaginable losses, and one daughter’s forbidden love.
Sunflowers Under Fire is a heartbreakingly intimate novel that illuminates the strength of the human spirit. Based on the true stories of her grandmother’s ordeals, author Diana Stevan captures the voices of those who had little say in a country that is still being fought over.
Diana Stevan is giving away one ebook copy of her fabulous book Sunflowers Under Fire.
All you need to do is answer this question:
What period of history are you most interested in reading about and why?
Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm BST on December 2nd.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
• Giveaway is only open Internationally.
•Only one entry per household.
• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
•Winners will be announced in the comments.
• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Sunflowers Under Fire
Diana Stevan likes to joke that she’s a Jill of all trades as she’s not only worked as a clinical social worker, but also as a teacher, librarian, model, actress and a sports writer-broadcaster for CBC television. With writing her passion, she’s published fitness and travel articles for newspapers; poetry in the U.K. journal, Dreamcatcher; a short story in Escape, an anthology; and a novelette, The Blue Nightgown, a coming-of-age story set in the 1950s.
Her novels cross genres: A Cry From The Deep, a romantic mystery/adventure about an underwater photographer who’s given up on love but encounters a woman from a previous century who hasn’t (2014); The Rubber Fence, women’s fiction, about three very conflicted women, inspired by her work on a psychiatric ward (2016) and Sunflowers Under Fire, historical fiction / family saga (2019.
When she isn’t writing, she loves to garden, travel, and read. With their two daughters grown, Diana lives with her husband Robert on Vancouver Island and West Vancouver, British Columbia.