I live in the Pacific Northwest of Canada, a land of beauty and inspiration. My companions are four house rabbits, each with a unique personality but all masters of deconstruction and mischief.
I was born on the wrong side of the iron curtain in Soviet Russia but discovered a different universe in England where I spent five years of my childhood. My father, a diplomat and writer, and my mother, a scholar of Farsi, were firm believers in the immersion method of learning a foreign language. Thus at the age of five I found myself immersed in a Church of England primary school where I began to understand and speak English, and to keep down the dreadfully unfamiliar lunches, out of sheer need to survive. To this day I don’t get jokes about the blandness of English cuisine. Growing up with two languages and two great literary traditions has shaped my stereoscopic vision of the world and my style as a writer: Russian lyricism blended with English refusal to take my characters too seriously.
While the wind of change swept across Russia in the late eighties I completed a university degree in linguistics and worked as a translator and conference interpreter, watching my country (specifically its oil and gas industry) open up to the world. Translating other people’s words made me hungry for exploring my own ideas on the background of the West’s intellectual heritage, and despite the exhilarating changes in Russia, I had longed to return to England—or to one of her children—ever since saying a reluctant goodbye and returning to Russia with my family. I got my lucky break in 1993 when I was accepted into the Master’s program of St John’s College in Annapolis, MD to study Liberal Arts. This and the subsequent PhD program in Social Thought at the University of Chicago were a time of intellectual feasting, getting tipsy on conversations with fellow students who became lifelong friends. After settling in Canada in 1999 I put my knowledge to use as a professor of philosophy and the humanities at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON. During a lull in teaching I followed an impulse and signed up for Biology 101 to become a student at the same university where I taught. This was the beginning of a new career in veterinary medicine, a homage to my high school love of science and to my lifelong fascination with animals.
Upon graduating from the University of Guelph in 2008 I settled in Squamish, BC to work as an associate veterinarian and later as a locum. The responsibility for a life placed in my hands has cured me of pretty much all other fears as well as of perfectionism. In 2010 I finally decided I was ready to convert my life experience into writing, and launched a blog, Animal Doctor in Transition, reflecting on the practice of veterinary medicine and on what we can and should learn from animals. I started writing fiction at about the same time.