Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Welcome to 1880s Vilnius, a volatile Northeastern metropolis where Balts, Germans, Poles, Russians, and Jews compete for a place in the sun. After sustaining fatal burns in a fire instigated by his rivals, textile magnate Hermann Lichtner spends his final days in a shabby infirmary. In a hasty and bizarre deathbed transaction he gives his fifteen-year-old daughter Renate in marriage to Thaddeus, a widowed Polish farmer who rejects social hierarchy and toils side by side with his peasants.

Renate’s arrival quickly disrupts the bucolic flow of life and antagonizes every member of the household. During an excursion to the city, Renate rekindles an affair with a young Jewish painter who sells his watercolors outside the Gate of Dawn chapel. While her despairing husband might look the other way, his servants will not stand by and watch while their adored master is humiliated.

Taking us from the cobblestone streets of old Vilnius, swarming with imperial gendarmes, to the misty bogs of rural Lithuania where pagan deities still rule, The Gate of Dawn is a folkloric tale of rivalry, conspiracy, and revenge.

Some Q & A with Marina:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.

I grew up in Central Europe, in a family of classical musicians. My mom is Russian and Jewish, and my biological father is Polish-Lithuanian. They made it a point to introduce me to English early on, so I grew up reading and writing in both Russian and English. I always had a very vivid imagination, so I would replay various fantasies and prospective disaster scenarios in my mind. I have a very grim worldview and a dark sense of humor.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I am a crazy cat lady, and I converted the rest of my family to that religion. We are not Cat-aholics ;-) I don’t consider myself a cat-owner. A more appropriate term would be “cat hostess” or “cat guardian”.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

I work for American Institute for Foreign Study, and I feel truly privileged to be part of a mission that’s almost apostolic – bringing the world together. My knowledge of foreign languages and different cultures really come in handy every day.

Where do you get your ideas?

I draw a lot of inspiration from history. My focus is on the lesser known figures that for whatever reason were obscured by historians. Usually there is a political reason why a particular historical figure was swept under the proverbial rug.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?

Interestingly, I am more influenced by music and folklore than by the works of other novelists. I think it’s important to be familiar with other landmark works in your specific genre, just so you know what you’re up against and what you should be aspiring to. At the same time, you have to resist the temptation to become a so-and-so knock-off. It’s important to discover your own authentic voice.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Amazingly, finding a publisher was not hard. It took me 16 years to finish the first presentable draft of “Wynfield’s Kingdom” and only a few weeks to find a publisher.  I guess it was worth the wait.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

Actually, the opportunity presented itself. My first publisher is struggling after the death of the founder, so I got my rights back for three of my novels, so I am in the process of editing, changing the covers and republishing with another publisher.

How do you market your work?

Oh boy, that’s my least favorite part. Marketing is not same as sales. You can get great reviews and exposure, and that may or may not translate into sales. There are so many people trying to get through the same narrow doorway. Seriously, I write because I have no other choice.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a sequel to The Gate of Dawn. It’s set during WWII on the Polish-Lithuanian border.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?

Absolutely. The Gate of Dawn is set in rural Lithuania, the land of my paternal ancestors. Raven’s Bog is a real place that my family inherited. Some pretty horrifying things happened there.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

From the point of view of writing or reading what I’ve written? Personally, I find that battle scenes come to me a lot more naturally than love scenes. I start laughing when I try to write something remotely erotic, and it ends up being grotesque and a little violent. Definitely not the stuff of romance novels.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

As I mentioned before, marketing is not pleasant. I get so many high fives and thumbs up, which don’t always translate into sales. Or people promise to read and review your book, and then it’s “dog ate my homework”. It’s always thrilling to get a publishing offer. And then brainstorming on the cover! My publishers allow me to use real actors and models for the covers. It’s such a thrilling process to go through dozens of headshots to pick the people who fit the parts perfectly.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you so much for your interest in my work. It’s such an intimate experience. I invent so much of myself into my work. I realize that a lot of what I write falls outside of many people’s comfort zone. I touch upon subjects that are still taboo in our society. On several occasions, publishers declined to publish my work, despite its alleged literary merits, due to the risqué content. 

To purchase this book:
Amazon link:

To connect with Marina:

Marina's blog & Facebook links:


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