The country I was born in – the Soviet Union – no longer exists. I spent most of my childhood in Russia, and I am glad I did. I only had a few good friends in my younger years – though I’m not quite sure why. The books became my refuge. Russia has a great literary tradition, both in children’s and in adult literature, and I am certain that my love of writing grew because of the gripping stories I read as a child. It wasn’t long before I started to try my own wings, re-writing the stories that struck my imagination and experimenting with my own story lines. I cannot underestimate the importance of these early “pen games” to the writing of this book.
When I was on the verge of turning sixteen, my family got the chance of a lifetime – to move to America. The decision was not an easy one, because everything we knew and loved was in Russia. However, we saw immigration as a gift of opportunity, a chance to live a secure life – and our new homeland did not disappoint. I went to college, then attended Temple University School of Pharmacy, something I would likely have not had a chance to achieve in Russia. Coming to America shaped my writing style as much as my early writing attempts, if not more. In fact, many aspects of the Angelo story – from my character’s loneliness and opportunities the School offered to his choice of a Healer career – are distilled from personal experience.