Stuart, who lived for a short time in Kiev, wrote her book Like a River From Its Course after meeting Maria Ivanovna, a survivor of a Nazi slave labor camp, while she was on a trip in Ukraine. "I heard her story, and her father's, who survived the massacre at Babi Yar, and I realized I wanted to fictionalize the story,'' she said. For 10 years, Stuart, 38, gathered research, including interviewing more than 100 veterans, and in June, the author saw the release of her historical novel based on the real-life stories. An Odessa resident, Stuart holds a degree in English and a minor in Russian literature from Baylor University. On Nov. 12 she will discuss Like a River From Its Course, and the people who inspired it, at the Times Festival of Reading as a featured author.
What's on your nightstand?
Weekend before last I went to Savannah for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance gathering. I came back with 12 books. My husband thinks I have a problem. The three I'm currently reading are Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness by David Casarett and The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. I sort of pick them up at different times throughout the day. I can't just read one book.
Is there one that is standing out?
Truly Madly Guilty. I also read her Big Little Lies.
How is this one different?
I think so far I like Big Little Lies more. It was more engaging, but this one has more suspense, which is why I keep going back to this one. She's leading you to an event, and I want to figure out what happens.
How does she structure it?
It's very interesting how she goes back and forth. The whole thing is set in the present time, and then events that happened two months earlier. I don't know what happens to make everyone so tense in present time, and it's cool to figure out.
With your minor in Russian lit, I must ask what is your favorite Russian novel?
My very favorite of all time is Anna Karenina. I was probably 20 the first time I read it. Actually, I read it in English while I was studying in Kiev. I came home and got a copy in Russian, but I admit, I never made it through.
Contact Piper Castillo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Florida_PBJC.