My grilling, er, interview over at A Staffer’s Musings

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Last week, Justin Landon over at A Staffer’s Musings, reviewed The Winds of Khalakovo, and shortly after, he asked if I’d like to do an interview with him. I said sure. My blog title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the questions were definitely challenging. We talked about the themes in Winds and where they came from, especially as they relate to Russian literature. We talk about some of my fears with Winds and the reviews that have come out since the books release.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview:

Justin: Did you have any heartburn about the use of Russian words?

Beaulieu: Some, yes. On those words that don’t have much of a direct translation—like cherkesska for the long coats the military wear, or the names of weaponry, or kozyol (goat) for a swear word—I didn’t really think twice about it. They bring a certain amount (and the right amount, in my opinion) of foreignness to the read. I debated some time over things like privyet for “hello” and dasvidaniya for “good-bye.” They were coming close to direct translations that might be better left translated, but in the end, I kept a smattering of these to color the text.

I also thought long and hard over the use of da and nyet in the text. Some people are put off by this. Others don’t seem to be bothered by it. I think if I’d ended up with only one culture and one language, I probably wouldn’t have used those words, but I started out of the gate with two primary languages (Yrstanlanan and Mahndi) and I’ve added two more since, and I wanted some way to orient the reader through dialogue (similar to aye and nay in Scottish). I wanted them to have a cue that the characters were speaking one language or the other. And now that I’ve expanded to four languages total, I’ve continued to use that. Whether or not that works for the reader, I can’t say, but that was my intent: to provide simple cues that also added some flavor to the read.

All joking aside, this was a great interview that forced me to dig a bit deeper than normal. Head on over to A Staffer’s Musings to read the interview in full.


  1. Steve Hick

    December 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Oh now I get it, about not being that well read in Russian literature but still managing to evoke the tropes. They’re drawing from the same sources, your book (your familial wellspring) and the authors. Then, great job channeling your grandmothers’ stories from your unconscious in the grist for your stories.

    • Brad

      December 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks much, Steve! I’m so gratified that you enjoyed the novel.