Thank you, Jennifer Jackson, for inviting me to write an article for Authors’ Lounge. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about my book, A Rose for Sergei.
This true story chronicles my real-life relationship with Soviet defector Sergei Kourdakov. In 1972, our worlds collided in Washington, DC. Sergei was ex-KGB. I worked for the Department of Defense. We were both twenty-one at the time and the instant attraction surprised us both. Dating a Soviet defector during the Cold War years came with some risks. As Sergei’s and my life intertwined, I learned what it was like to be watched and followed. I learned that life is complicated when you each think the other is a spy.
I kept my relationship with Sergei a secret for more than forty years. It’s hard to keep a secret today though, especially when you can text or tweet anything, anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. But I learned to keep secrets at a young age.
The summer before my senior year of high school, I was hired as a clerical assistant to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). I was just sixteen years old. I couldn’t tell anyone about my work or the location of where I worked. I didn’t even tell my parents any details. When the summer job ended I was hooked. The mystery and intrigue of the intelligence world captivated me. After graduation the following year, I started working full time for DIA.
Keeping secrets was an essential part of the job–from “Eyes Only” documents, to “Need to Know” to “Top Secret Code Words.” I didn’t know it at the time, but all that training prepared me for staying silent about my unexpected encounter with Sergei Kourdakov.
So what happened…what convinced me to write a book all these years later when I never wanted to be an author? The unexpected motivator turned out to be social media. The controversial information I discovered online about Sergei Kourdakov’s life and his autobiography, The Persecutor, convinced me I needed to speak up. After all, I heard Sergei’s story in the privacy of my own apartment. I knew him personally. Feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I was compelled to tell his story.
It’s easy enough to say one wants to write a book. In reality, it’s harder to follow through with that idea. As a result of where I worked, I had one extra step in the writing process. I was required to have my manuscript approved for open publication by the Department of Defense’s Office of Prepublication and Security Review. Since writing was never on my radar, I surprised myself when everything was completed.
After publishing A Rose for Sergei, friends who had known me for years were shocked to learn about my connection to Sergei Kourdakov. Because his book was published in multiple languages, I’ve heard from people all around the world who were excited to find out more about him. My book’s appeal seems to be universal for readers—young adults to over ninety.
My story is a first-hand account of the time I spent with Sergei Kourdakov. I believe he had completely changed his life from the person he was in the Soviet Union. The goal for writing this book has remained the same. I did not want his story to be forgotten.
Still to this day…when I hear the 70’s song, “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago, I am twenty-one again, searching my apartment for hidden microphones, screwdriver in hand…stereo volume on high to cover my movements while pretending that everything is normal.
A Rose for Sergei is available on Amazon and from other book retailers. Find me on my blog, Twitter @KKiddAuthor or on Facebook.