Interview with Seth Chanowitz

What made you want to write Return to Little Russia?
"Return to Little Russia" is the story of a young man's journey from Finland to the United States and what he learns about his family who lived in Soviet occupied Estonia. It is also about what the main character learns about four dead Finnish peacekeepers in Yugoslavia, his future with his Finnish girlfriend Sofia, and fate of his start-up IT company. Maksim Feldblyum Issacovich reflects one example of the Soviet Jewish experience in the United States.

This story is inspired by true events that I experienced in NYC, Finland, Estonia, is also based on my own Soviet jewish background, my life in Finland, living in Brighton Beach, NY, and association with Estonia. I also thought that corruption in New York City has not been examined much so wanted to tackle that issue also in a thriller format. I became aware of INS's reputation of being corrupt when I worked for it in New York City . For more information, read the Preface at the beginning of the novel.
Why did you write about Finland?
Finland was a neutral party during he cold war and also played a key role during the collapse of Communism in Estonia. The TV broadcasts from Finland played a key role in the weakening of the Soviet dictatorship, according to an interview with the former head of the Communist Party of Estonia. I don't think this relationship has been examined much in the Western media and is relevant today in view of the renewed Cold War. Further, I know of no American-based novel that has used Finnish street language, such as "niin", "mmm", and "joo" and has examined the differences between the countries using a fictional novel format. Also, I lived in Finland and this novel reflects that country at the time. Sofia Valtonen is a strong female character in the novel and reflects many of the good and bad issues associated with the country.
Is not Brighton Beach, NY known as "Little Odessa"?
True, in the 1980s, the area was mostly Jewish Ukrainians from the south port city of Odessa. However, the neighborhood has always been populated by a variety of nationalities of Russian speaker immigrants. Most people know the country Russia. Consequently, I titled it to reflect the fact that it is full of Russian speakers to this day.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover is designed to reflect the mystery/spy element of the story and the fact that it takes place in Brooklyn. The Left is the symbol of the SUPO/Finnish Security Intelligence Service. I called the story "Little Russia" so that the audience would know he lived in a Russian speaking neighborhood. The colors are those of the Russia flag.
Published 2017-09-21.
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Books by This Author

Return to Little Russia
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,580. Language: American English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
“Return to Little Russia” is an international, mystery thriller inspired by true events that takes readers on a suspense-filled journey from Helsinki, Finland to the ethnic neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx in New York City, and drags them into the murky world of spies, immigration, and corruption during the late 1990s.