Many, many years ago (okay, decades. It was decades ago), I was working on a history degree.
I traveled throughout the world to immerse myself in cultures to get a better idea of the history as something real and experienced by actual humans not just stories in my textbooks.
I was there! St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square.
One of the places I was fortunate, and not so fortunate, to have visited was the USSR.
"Not fortunate" because in the days prior to the Internet, information was difficult to get and the newspaper said that things were fine following Chornobyl. Things were not, in fact, fine. And I planted the seeds of thyroid cancer. So there's that. (All's good. I just passed my 2-year marker with an all-clear.)
Fortunate because I was able to experience the glorious architecture, the breathtaking dancing, and the amazing music. One of my favorite composers is Rimsky Korsakov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lEx0ytE_0
I even had one of my favorite all-time meals. Sadly, I later found out I ate horse. :/
When I was in the USSR (not just Russia but Czechoslovakia, and East Berlin), I saw how difficult life was for the people in Eastern Europe. I had so much hope when the wall, that I stood at when I left East Berlin at Check Point Charlie, came down.
Last year, I outlined Warrior's Instinct and had the cover made up. I set the book in the Donbas region, thinking of Crimea and Georgia. As I was fleshing out the novel, my words were being reflected on the news channels, much to my horror. I removed any specific nouns that indicated this region because I felt it was the most ethical way to handle the situation.
It is complicated to both love a culture and despise the actions of a people. I grappled with that as I polished my novel.
As you read Warrior's Instinct, I would love to know your thoughts. You can find me on FB at https://www.facebook.com/groups/fionaquinn