1.This is such a richly detailed historical saga, with at least four beautifully realized fictional worlds presented to us as readers. To what extent do these different worlds mirror events and experiences in your own life – the nomadic life of the Roma/Gypsies, the world of horses and dressage teams, Russian ballet, and the plight of persecuted peoples fleeing to safety during WWII?
Most of the events mirror my own life and dreams. When the time had come for me to revisit the horrors of WW2 and my life among partisans and peoples in flight, I decided to revisit through the eyes of a peace and life loving Gypsy. Instead of her coming from the aggressor’s side, Germany, I had her originate in Russia, another victim of Nazi aggression. Ever since my childhood spent hiding in the woods of Germany and along the Polish and Czech borders, when we came across Gypsies fleeing with their horses, I have felt the noble soul of these powerful and innocent animals. Whereas among partisans all domestic animals were killed, because they could give away their locations, Gypsies did everything to save them. To them the horse is sacred. When the time had come in my life to settle down and I became a mother, the height of my life, I combined rearing my children with starting a horse farm, where I bred dogs, cats, but most of all horses and entered the world of dressage. Although, an enthusiastic but untalented rider, I was welcomed by several of our U.S. Olympic riders for training and acquired advanced knowledge of this incredible sport, often compared to the art of ballet. In fact I was exposed to ballet while living in Finland in the 50’s, where I witnessed many performances of leading Russian ballets. It was also in Finland and later in Paris that I met and became close to many Russian aristocrats in exile. It is through them that I acquired knowledge of the immense warmth and soul of this vast country that, politically, has always gone from bad to worse.