What inspired you to write BEQUEST?
The book was inspired by my grandfather’s war diaries. In 1992, after my grandfather’s death, my grandmother gave them to me to read. They were so poignant and moving, that I promised her to make up a story around them. The diaries in Chapter 2 of "Bequest" are based on those diaries
Bequest is dedicated to my grandparents, who brought me up.
Why did you choose this story?
My grandfather was a great historian and a great man. He was well known for researching the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks; so the story of the Cossack treasures and my grandfather’s diaries made an obvious connection for me.
Furthermore, in 1992 I was interpreting for the official visit of the first Ukrainian President to the UK, and he made a joke at the banquet about searching for the Cossack treasures in the vaults of the Bank of England, so his joke made me think "What if?"
What is special to you about the book?
"Bequest" for me is more than a thriller, even though there is an element of political intrigue and a treasure hunt.
As I was researching for the book, there were three things that I tried to bring together in "Bequest".
1.George Orwell once said: " Those, who control the past, control the future". I was trying to show that a careless attitude to history, ignoring facts, drawing hasty conclusions, can lead to dangerous, even fatal consequences. There are repetitions in "Bequest" across centuries : events, sounds, colours…History does not just repeat itself: It develops and, with certain repetitions, strikes back.
2.I feel rather humble that I was given the chance to recount, through several characters, the stories of various Soviet generations – the war generation (through the diaries), the "generation of crushed hopes" of the sixties (the story of Oxana) and finally, through Taras, the story of my own generation. A generation that was brought up with Soviet communist ideas, but reached adulthood to see those values dissolve. The "Soviet" identity disappeared, but the sense of national identity, with which we grew up, was distorted. For me Taras’s story is about survival (or rather, not surviving!) of the post-Soviet generation.
3.Kate’s story is very much a "brush up " with that unbeknown post-Soviet system and the hostile world of history. "Things that don’t kill us, make us stronger" indeed.
Bequest is published by Headline in January 2010